Our rural youth miss out
Tolaga Bay Area School principal Nori Parata has raised the issue of the lack of oral hygiene services provided to teenagers on the East Coast and the 20-year battle she has fought to secure a regular service in Uawa.
Dental care is free to all young people up to age 18. In reality it has not been provided at all. Once 18, the not inconsiderable cost rests with the individual so it is very important that dental care is provided to young people up to that age.
In theory it is funded to DHBs by government, so there is no financial reason why the service is not provided.
Just this week a lady from a Wairoa NGO told National Radio it was now not possible for young people, or anyone in fact, to sit their full driver licence in Wairoa, yet smaller towns like Dannevirke and Feilding still have the service.
It was made clear that young people and those who may have their probationary licence are significantly disadvantaged by having to travel to Gisborne or Napier to sit their full licence. The removal of testing in Wairoa was based on “insufficient volumes” of traffic, yet in this part of provincial NZ we have challenging roads and substantial volumes of heavy vehicles.
Late last year we heard that the provision of regular health practitioner visits to secondary schools was to cease in Tairawhiti. Again, a service to our youth removed. We know that Tairawhiti has some of the lowest incomes in NZ, and we know that some families struggle to access the services they need.
The lack of dental services and driver licence services are glaring examples of central government’s lack of attention to the more isolated parts of NZ. Policies are set in Wellington with little regard to the reality on the ground.
One would hope that the politicians vying for support will see these issues as needing urgent attention.
Why should young people in rural East Coast not have access to the same services available to their city cousins, that are in fact funded for them!