Social services fear they will have to “work in the dark” if Government does not support a national youth survey used to shape policy, practice and science.
The Youth2000 series has provided data on the health and wellbeing of Kiwi secondary school students from surveys carried out in 2001, 2007 and 2012.
Youth2000 investigators are yet to secure Government funding ahead of a 2018 survey.
Youth2018 project co-lead and senior lecturer in adolescent health at Auckland University, Theresa Fleming said “the clock was ticking” and the survey relied on the funding.
“Our group is committed to providing good data to make sure there are good services for young people in New Zealand.
“We want to do that in the most powerful and efficient way we can. We believe young people’s voices are incredibly important in that and that is what the survey gives.”
The data identified trends affecting the health and development of young Kiwis from all over the country and across diverse communities and ethnicities.
“We think it’s a really valuable piece. It has been going for a period of time and we can track trends,” Fleming said.
In 2012 the survey was funded by the Ministries of Youth Development, Social Development, Health, Education and Justice, the Department of Labour, the Families Commission and the Health Promotion Agency (formerly ALAC).
298 Youth Health Centre director Dr Sue Bagshaw said she had been campaigning to secure funding for a fourth survey for two years.
“It almost seems like the Government isn’t interested in research, especially regarding young people. It’s made up its mind what it’s going to do and it’s not going to change.”
Bagshaw said a downward trend in young people’s drug and alcohol use came as a “total surprise” in the previous data set and she would like to know if that had changed.
“My concern is that we’re working in the dark and certainly the funders are working in the dark. How can we plan social services and do investment strategy stuff … if we haven’t got any information to base it on?”
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Social Development, the lead agency, said a decision about the series was expected later in the year.
“The Youth2000 survey series had produced some valuable and interesting findings. The variety of funding sources for the survey reflect the broad application of results.
“We are currently considering options for the future of the series, but no decisions have been made to date.”
Q-topia education coordinator Anne Nicholson said the Youth2000 series was the only tool they had to show LGBTQI youth were a high-needs group.
“The next set of data is critical, especially in the climate we’re in, where there has been significant changes around the law in the last five years. Structurally New Zealand now has equality, but has there been social change. Without this data set we don’t know what is happening.”