A CAREER service for Gisborne teenagers is about to close next month and will shut the door on hundreds of young people.
The Youth Transition Service, run by Career Connexions Tairawhiti, has assisted 15 to 19-year-olds in the district for the past seven years but this will end due to contract changes.
YTS will be replaced by Youth Package and Youth Pipeline welfare reforms.
CCT director Geoff Meade says the Gisborne service helped about 500 young people last year but the Government’s Social Security (Youth Support and Work Focus) Amendment Bill meant fewer than 40 of their clients met the new criteria.
Mr Meade said Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s pipeline reforms were for 16 and 17-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET).
Turanganui a Kiwa and Ngati Porou runanga, and the Salvation Army, have been given the nod to share the Gisborne contract in the first phase of the Government’s welfare reforms.
“Under the pipeline reform, services must target 16 and 17-year-olds and most of the funding will depend on success at getting young people through NCEA Level 2.
“This is why it is more suited to a provider who has some control over that outcome.”
Mr Meade said the contract changes no longer supported 15-year-olds or 18 and 19-year-olds, while the Youth Package involved an administration and policing role with teen parents and those on youth benefits.
Mr Meade said the new reforms might be designed to keep people away from Winz, “but the reality is — that is where they will end up.
“These new changes will affect successful outcomes for families . . . families who have less than others.”
“We receive numerous referrals and people often walk off the street to seek our help, but many outside the criteria range will now only have Work and Income New Zealand to turn to.
“Many nannies have brought in their mokopuna to our office for advice and to avoid seeking assistance from Winz.”
It is not the first time Mr Meade has experienced a career service for youth “re-structured into oblivion” .
“Here we go again.
“The need for youth needing a helping hand with career choices hasn’t changed since Quest Rapuara in the 1990s — only the names.”
Mr Meade said it was hard to walk away because he knew so many young people would fall through the gaps.
“We have helped thousands of kids sort out their lives. Helped them achieve by taking them from one place to a better place. I believe in this concept one hundred percent.
“Many of these kids will have nowhere to go but back to school and if they are unable to settle, they will be alienated.
“Looking at the ages the bill affects, perhaps the answer lies with the Ministry of Education instead of Social Development.”
Career Connexions will continue with ACC and school contracts but not at its Peel Street office.
• The final governance hui for Gisborne’s YTS was held yesterday.