Your vote will directly affect young people for decades to come – and we reckon you should vote accordingly. The consequences of the decisions that the next government make will play a central role in young people’s lives as they forge their paths into the world. Young people across the world have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and its aftermath – from their mental and physical health to their employment prospects.  Ara Taiohi (the peak body for youth development in Aotearoa), with the support of Dr Kate Prendergast, University of Canterbury is pleased to release a youth policy scorecard* that highlights how well the policy platforms of the major political parties serve the interests and priorities of young people in the leadup to the election on Saturday.

The score card uses indicators that assess parties against the issues that young people have stated are important in both the Youth 19 study (https://www.youth19.ac.nz/s/Youth19-Youth-Voice-Brief.pdf) and the University of Canterbury’s CYCLES research with young people in Christchurch (https://www.cusp.ac.uk/themes/s1/cycles/). It has been created to support the two million eligible voters who haven’t yet cast their votes to make future proofed decisions. Young New Zealanders want action on mental health, education, climate change, job opportunities and housing. We believe their voices on these issues should be heard and their futures considered in the way that New Zealanders vote. “Voting for policies that respond to young people’s calls to action can make a real difference for their wellbeing now and the future,” says Dr. Kate Prendergast.

The 18–24 age group traditionally has the lowest voter turnout for elections in New Zealand. According to the Electoral Commission, 70 per cent of eligible voters aged between 18 and 24 voted in the 2014 general election, compared with 78 per cent in the 25-44 group, and 90 per cent and 94 per cent in the 45-64 and 65+ categories respectively.  “We hear it often – young people want to vote! They want to be involved, and have their voices count. Sometimes, though, they don’t feel as they have enough information to make an informed and confident decision,” Shannan Wong, Youth Week Director says. “Countering this, traditionally older age groups vote early, they know how to access information, they have voted before. This could be seen as further entrenching intergenerational inequality.”

“Our hope is that any undecided voter that is either young themselves, or connected to young people will find this resource insightful as they make their voting decisions,” says Jane Zintl (CEO, Ara Taiohi). “We also hope this scorecard shows politicians how their policy intentions impact young people in Aotearoa. We’ll continue to raise the issues that are important to young people, and hold government to account on their commitments to young people’s wellbeing.”

*policy information received by 14 October 2020. Some amendments may be made during the next 2 days.

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