Youth Development


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Youth Development Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

14.1 We implore the Government to enforce and endorse the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, with particular emphasis on Articles 42 and 12; the Government is obligated to promote the convention to make it known to all educators, children, and parents, and young people’s voices should be respected, valued, and taken into account when adults are making decisions that affect them.
14.2 We stress the need for the Government to encourage Aotearoa civil engagement in rangatahi through, for example, the following:

  1. Introducing a national, bi-annual rangatahi council that includes a number of representatives from all age brackets and backgrounds; and
  2. Co-creating online resources and systems with rangatahi to empower rangatahi to participate in civil engagement in Aotearoa.
14.3 Recognising the importance of hauora rangatahi (the wellbeing of youth), we call for the Government to increase funding for mental health services, such as YouthLine and school counselling services in light of the alarmingly high rates of youth suicide in Aotearoa.
14.4 We call on authorities (like the Government and the education system) to non-tokenistically consult with and obtain the agreement of a wide variety of rangatahi before any decisions are made that would affect them.
14.5 We strongly urge for a fair, non-judgemental and empathetic approach to all forms of abuse for both offenders and victims through restorative and preventative programmes for rangatahi.
14.6 We support the Government funding school lunches and stationery to ease material poverty for rangatahi and to help equalise educational opportunities.
14.7 We strongly urge the Government to prioritise the retainment of the family unit when families reach out for awhina (support) to maintain the livelihoods of their children and the support is unable to be given by the family due to circumstances such as low income. We additionally recommend that someone, preferably within the whanau of said family, can advocate, and possibly be, the support for any children in question. The analysis of each case would be provided by a combination of social services and support systems already present in the child’s life.
The Youth Development Focus Group

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Isabella and Amarind, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Social Development


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Social Development Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

13.1 We acknowledge that homelessness is a critical issue prevalent in Aotearoa that requires long-term, sustainable solutions, not short-term measures. We appreciate the recent steps the Government has taken in addressing the issue, however, we are alarmed by a lack of cohesive progress between the Government and relevant NGOs. We strongly urge the establishment of a collaborative National Strategy to combat this issue, including, but not limited to:

  1. Launching a national inquiry to collect data surveying the issue;
  2. Prioritising the use of the Housing First model; and
  3. Ratifying Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which recognises a person’s fundamental right to adequate housing.
13.2  We have identified the presence of and recommend amendment to policies that create significant disparities for certain groups within the Aotearoa social welfare system, including, but not limited to:

  1. Clauses 70A, 176, 177 and 178 of the Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill, which discriminates against solo mothers who do not identify the biological father on their children’s documentation; and
  2. The Accommodation Supplement, which fails to adequately take into account the added cost of living for residents of certain areas of Aotearoa, such as transport fees.
13.3 We have witnessed a lack of knowledge of and access to social detoxification facilities for those facing drug and alcohol addiction. These centres are beneficial in preparing such dependants for the rehabilitation process. We promote:

  1. Further education about and awareness of social detox centres
  2. The expansion of accessible social detox centres nationwide; and
  3. Government funding and support for these centres.
13.4 The current minimum wage is inadequate to provide a decent quality of life for full time working New Zealanders. A living wage has been shown to increase employee loyalty and trust in a company and will also allow workers to further contribute as active citizens in our society. We propose that a living wage is implemented for full time workers, especially prioritising those that are the main provider of income for their family.
13.5 We recognise the strong institutional barriers that exist in accessing the Aotearoa social welfare system, such as prohibitive requirements to receive identification. We advocate for the mitigation of such barriers to afford access to welfare for our most vulnerable citizens.
13.6 We are concerned that poverty remains a major issue within Aotearoa. We acknowledge that a multitude of factors contribute to the chronic nature of the poverty cycle, many of which are outside an individual’s control. It is incumbent upon the Government to take concerted action to further address this issue, such as altering the welfare system to provide support to maintain the livelihood of such persons, whilst further incentivising participation in the workforce of Aotearoa New Zealand.

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Lexi and Mitchell, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Science & Innovation


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Science & Innovation Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

12.1 We understand that science, as a subject, is not introduced early enough to students in schools, resulting in rushed and inadequate science education. Therefore, we ask for the Ministry of Education to mandate schools educating Year 7 and above to adopt frequent science education (five or more hours a week). This will create a higher quality science education for the population and more scientifically literate citizens.
12.2 We recognise that in low socioeconomic communities, students have limited access to adequate tools and facilities in order to pursue an education in the scientific and technological disciplines. This has diminished these students career prospects in the STEM fields. We propose that equitable funding be provided to low decile schools so students can receive equal educational opportunities to students in high decile schools, in science and technology . This will allow all students to have a fair chance at undertaking an education and career in STEM in NZ.
12.3 Science is often difficult for the public to understand because of jargon and paywalls. This allows special interest groups to mislead the public on scientific matters, such as climate change, fluoridation, nuclear power, genetic engineering, the abuse of scientists, and for crucial action to be delayed. We request the creation of an independent, publicly funded organisation to defend scientists from slander, ensure accurate science reporting and uphold mohiotanga in New Zealand.
12.4 We believe that the New Zealand Government’s investment in domestic research and development is inadequate per capita GDP compared to other developed countries. This inhibits high level advancement in science and technology in New Zealand. We call upon the Government to increase funding to Crown Research Institutes, such as Callaghan Innovation, to allow New Zealand to remain economically competitive.
12.5 The automation of the workforce is increasing at an exponential rate. We urge that New Zealand be ready for this wave of progression, considering the negative effects of automation, such as job displacement. We stress the the importance of mitigating this by advancing worker skills, resulting in more efficient, upskilled generations in the future, leading to creative innovation in employment.
12.6 We believe that minority groups such as women, Māori and Pacific Islanders, and LGBTIQ+ people are underrepresented in STEM fields. This disparity prevents fair representation in the scientific community and prevents a socially diverse contribution to STEM development in New Zealand from reaching its full potential. We appreciate equity funding via scholarships, support networks, promotional programmes and community outreach as a way to address the problem.
12.7 We believe that there is a shortage of publicity and funding for extracurricular science programmes that target motivated high schoolers. These students are limited in reaching their potential. We call upon the Government to promote and support science extracurriculars and extension through (though not limited to) the following:

  1. Increasing government funding for extracurricular programmes in science-based activities; and
  2. Giving schools information through the NZQA website to promote science extracurriculars opportunities such as Olympiads as extension.
The Science & Innovation Focus Group

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Lauren and Mat, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Media & Communications


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Media & Communications Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

11.1 We believe New Zealand’s media has a responsibility to provide the public with reliable, accurate information. We ask for New Zealand media to deliver news that provides unbiased, legitimately-sourced information and represents a variety of perspectives for the strength of our democracy.
11.2 We appreciate the Official Information Act’s role in allowing journalists to hold the Government accountable. Further, we desire media outlets to clearly acknowledge sponsors and ownership arrangements, cite press releases and respect the protection of sensitive sources.
11.3 We would like New Zealand’s media to represent our diverse population. If groups are not represented then they become marginalised in society. We suggest the following strategies be promoted by the Government to ensure a diversity of voices are heard in all levels of the media industry:

  1. Scholarships in media courses, film-making and journalism schools;
  2. Creative New Zealand schemes to encourage content creators to consider New Zealand’s diversity; and
  3. Working with stakeholders and portrayed groups to ensure historical and factual accuracy.
11.4 We wish to see a stronger presence of Te Reo and Māori perspectives in the media industry to facilitate the integration and preservation of Māori culture in our national media. We acknowledge the potential of RNZ’s Māori Journalism Internship and encourage other media outlets to implement such initiatives in order to foster kotahitanga within Aotearoa.
11.5 We acknowledge the vital role of independent media outlets in our national information infrastructure and are disappointed by the lack of government funding for media in New Zealand. We urge the Government to:

  1. Guarantee RNZ’s funding be adjusted to inflation to allow them to continue to create accurate and diverse news and creative content on multiple platforms;
  2. Increase funding for Māori TV;
  3. Appoint board members for TVNZ, NZ On Air and other similar agencies by a vote of Parliament; and
  4. Provide 25% increase in funding for NZ On Air.
11.6 We acknowledge the media’s influence in increasing political awareness and engagement to combat low voting rates among young people. We believe young people equipped with quality information from the media are better able to hold politicians accountable, resulting in increased representation of youth voices in government policy. We recommend the Government work alongside the youth of Aotearoa to create an online educational resource, promoted through social media to educate young people about politics and political systems, targeted at secondary school students.
11.7 We recommend that the Government recognise Internet access as an integral part of New Zealand society. Today, Internet access is critical for New Zealand communication and is a necessity for a variety of services, including education, banking, student loans, social welfare and participating in censuses. Without Internet access, individuals will be left disconnected from the world’s affairs and unable to express their beliefs. We assert that the Government should not cut off Internet access in a crisis and desire a legal obligation for providers to supply affordable and accessible Internet.
The Media Communications Focus Group

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Esme and Freya, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Law & Order


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Law & Order Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

10.1 Currently in Aotearoa, terminally ill people who are suffering are unable to die with dignity on their own terms. As a result of this, doctors are unable to legally assist, resulting in many patients taking their own lives without mitigation of pain. Therefore, we encourage the Government to pass the current End of Life Choice Bill.
10.2 New Zealand has high recidivism rates due to difficulty for ex-prisoners in readjusting to society post-incarceration. Therefore, we recognise that the justice system should be primarily, although not wholly, focused on rehabilitation and reintegration over punishment. As such, we urge a re-evaluation of funding from incarceration-based punishment towards rehabilitative and reintegration programmes.
10.3 Currently, criminals incarcerated in prison are unable to vote, although sentences falling outside of the election cycle are not subject to the same restriction. This results in unfairness in our sentencing that disproportionately affects communities of lower socioeconomic status, particularly certain Māori and Pasifika groups. In view of the Attorney General and High Court’s declaration on the fact, we urge the Government to reinstate prisoner voting rights that can be revoked at the discretion of a judge at sentencing.
10.4 Consumption of marijuana is currently illegal in Aotearoa, despite an increased awareness of its positive effects. Gangs control supply, more harmful drugs are becoming cheaper, and chronic pains are unable to be treated. We urge the Government to consider legislation in order to generate revenue and regulate standards of consumption, both recreationally for those over the age of 18, and medicinally for those over the age of 18, or under 18 with parental consent.
10.5 Currently in Aotearoa, a criminal defendant and the prosecution may come to a plea agreement prior to commencement of a trial. Although this may increase the speed and rates of convictions of offenders, there is no transparency in this process and defendants are at risk of accepting unfair bargains. In the interests of justice, we urge the Government to introduce a ‘plea jury’ to ensure that any bargains accepted are carefully considered by both members of society and an informed judge. Plea jury means 12 members of the public who attend the pretrial plea negotiations between the prosecution and defendant, and ultimately accept or reject the proposed bargain by consensus on the grounds of fairness.
10.6 We strongly support the Rangatahi Courts introduced in 2008 and their incorporation of Tikanga Māori. They have played a significant role in reducing re-offending by Māori youth, addressing the underlying causes of criminal behaviour and providing relevant rehabilitative responses such as community focussed solutions.
10.7 Due to increasing rates of gang violence and violent crime, we re-affirm the Government’s efforts to arm every police officer with non-lethal force, specifically tasers. Moreover, we support the drive to increase recruitment of police officers to protect the public, especially in rural areas that lack an active police presence.
The Law & Order focus group students are gathered together on the grounds of the University.

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Lisa and Riana, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Infrastructure & Civil Defence


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Infrastructure & Civil Defence Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

9.1 We are concerned that over 30% of Aotearoa New Zealand’s population resides in Auckland alone, resulting in overpopulation and a strain on infrastructure. Other regions consequently suffer economic and cultural stagnation. We see a need for the Government to continually explore options to develop business and skilled industries in order to attract and redirect the influx of people towards other regions.
9.2 The proliferation of private car ownership and the mass congestion it causes in large urban centres is a result of the lack of accessible alternatives, thereby failing to indicate a shift toward sustainable travel. To mitigate this, we recommend:

  1. The implementation of already-successful bicycle-sharing systems similar to those in Europe, which involve widespread availability of bicycle lanes in regional areas; and
  2. A monitored phase-in of mass transit bus systems into major bus stations to hasten and streamline public transport, following examples already in place in Bogotá.
9.3 Horizontal expansion of cities and suburban sprawl is a detriment to transportation, livability and available employment opportunities. We believe in initiating a gradual increase in urban density through the construction of residential and commercial high-rises in new or existing urban centres.
9.4 We appreciate the three key priorities of the Ministry of Transport (economic growth and productivity, road safety, and value for money), regarding the funding of transport projects and maintenance. However, we would also like to prioritise environmental sustainability and public transit in transport decisions, thus, we recommend that the Ministry of Transport add these to their list of key priorities.
9.5 We are disappointed by the lack of social interaction and appealing community spaces, causing New Zealand’s CBDs to be less liveable. This results in a lack of urban culture and is detrimental to commercial activity. We recommend that City Councils take initiative to pedestrianise roads and develop engaging community spaces in the CBD, in conjunction with NZTA.
9.6 It is concerning that civil defence practices in New Zealand are not comprehensively and publicly reviewed after emergencies. This may leave unsuitable or dysfunctional practices in place, risking inadequate response in subsequent emergency situations and a lack of accountability. We strongly recommend the implementation of mandated crisis response reviews following times of emergency, with the aim of ensuring the public is effectively informed of any developments to response practices and that the correct parties are held accountable.
9.7 In light of recent events, we recognise that there is a lack of comprehensive education regarding emergency procedures in Aotearoa. New Zealanders are underprepared with respect to the correct procedures surrounding civil defence actions. Therefore, we recommend that compulsory education detailing the multiple stages (before, during, after) of disaster recovery is incorporated and caters to every level of schooling.

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Yasith and Kane, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Hauora


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Hauora Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

8.1 We believe the Government should take a holistic approach to hauora, considering all aspects of te whare tapa wha model. This includes targeting the social determinants of health which have a profound impact on the health status of populations in Aotearoa, especially in relation to low socioeconomic and minority groups.
8.2 We recognise the increasing rates of mental health issues within Aotearoa across all demographics, which impacts the quality of life for individuals and families, and increases the risk of suicidality. We recommend:

  1. Increased promotion of mental health, especially amongst overrepresented populations. This includes education within schools, as well as partnering with local iwi and hapu in the creation of self-care strategies;
  2. Encouraging realistic and healthy hours, pay, and a psychological support system for our health professionals; and
  3. Extended funding of safe mental health facilities that provide fully subsidised professional support.

Not only does this enhance the mental health of New Zealanders in general, but it protects our health sector workforce in providing quality patient care.

8.3 We believe that abortion being part of the Crimes Act 1961 compromises the reproductive rights of women in New Zealand. We recommend that in order to support the autonomy that women have over their bodies:

  1. Abortion should be taken out of the Crimes Act 1961; and
  2. The criteria for getting an abortion should more readily take into account factors including, but not limited to, consideration of the socioeconomic status of the woman as a reason for seeking an abortion, effectively creating a more tailored approach to the specific situational circumstances and needs of each individual.

This will help to remove the social, financial, and personal harms of the current lack of accessibility to a safe procedure, as well the stigma around it.

8.4 Recognising the high rates of domestic violence within New Zealand, we advocate increasing:

  1. Awareness and education around domestic violence, including the statistical overrepresentation of Māori and Pacific Island groups; and
  2. Funding and promoting facilities which provide subsidised services, including professional counselling, group sessions and a safe environment to go to for support to strengthen communities through kotahitanga.

In consequence, the awareness around domestic violence and the importance of manaakitanga (support) is emphasised, whilst increasing the availability and accessibility of support for all.

8.5 We believe that New Zealand’s ranking as the third most obese country in the OECD is shaped by obesogenic environments, including increased accessibility to calorie-dense foods and decreased accessibility to exercise opportunities. We recommend:

  1. Implementation of a sugar tax on confectionery and excessively sugary and artificially sweetened drinks and foods, where money is redistributed to subsidising fruit and vegetables;
  2. Regulated standard for foods available in school canteens; and
  3. Funding sporting bodies and communal physical recreational areas.

The combination of more affordable healthier food options, decreased accessibility of unhealthy food in schools and promotion of fitness opportunities will provide a holistic approach to decreasing rates of obesity.

8.6 The socioeconomic status of individuals is not always accurately represented by neighbourhood area deprivation (NZDep). The current system of subsidising primary care (for example, GP appointments) according to area deprivation disadvantages particular individuals. In order to reduce the financial barriers around access, we recommend that patients are charged for primary care services proportionately to their income, where the lowest income individuals are provided with free care. This makes access to health services more equitable to protect the most vulnerable individuals in society.
8.7 We believe that New Zealand’s ranking as the third most obese country in the OECD is shaped by obesogenic environments, including increased accessibility to calorie-dense foods and decreased accessibility to exercise opportunities. We recommend:

  1. A realistic and healthy education surrounding the practicalities of sex and contraception;
  2. In-depth education surrounding consent, including within diverse relationships;
  3. Combating the unhealthy stereotypes promoted through the porn industry; and
  4. Funding for external sexual health organisations to deliver this curriculum.

The combination of more affordable healthier food options, decreased accessibility of unhealthy food in schools and promotion of fitness opportunities will provide a holistic approach to decreasing rates of obesity.

The Hauora Focus Group are gathered on the stairs of the University campus.

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Day and Michael, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Governance


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Governance Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

7.1 We recommend legal supremacy for the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. We further recommend the entrenchment of the Act so it is unable to be repealed or amended unless one of the following conditions is met:

  1. A 75% majority in the House of Representatives;
  2. A majority of voters in a electoral referendum.
7.2 We encourage the implementation of a non-partisan, compulsory civics education programme being woven into the national curriculum.
7.3 We recognise the importance of a youth voice and youth participation in civics. We believe the best way to ensure this is to lower the voting age to 17 for reasons that include but are not limited to:

  1. Allowing youth to vote whilst in an environment where guidance is still obtainable; and
  2. Allowing Year 13 students to have a privilege whilst in school, providing the opportunity for younger students below this age to look forward to and see voting in an optimistic light.
7.4 We recommend the extension of the Parliamentary term from three to four years to promote long-term policy strategy.
7.5 We recommend the retention of the monarch as the Head of State of New Zealand.
7.6 We recommend the retention of the following electoral thresholds in MMP:

  1. 5% of the Party vote;
  2. The majority of votes in an electorate.
The Governance Focus Group strikes a pose on the lawn of the Owen Glen Building

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Jason and Julia, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Foreign Affairs


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Foreign Affairs Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

6.1 We value the effort towards moral foreign policy. We place great importance on New Zealand as a multicultural nation. New Zealand has demonstrated strength in moral policy by taking strong stances on controversial issues, such as nuclear policy. We hope to see a continuation of moral foreign policies based on the unique key values held by our nation, particularly respecting both our own and other cultures. We emphasise that moral foreign policy and national interest are not mutually exclusive.
6.2 We recognise New Zealand has a responsibility as a leader in the Asia-Pacific due to our robust democracy, strong economy and humanitarian capability. We applaud the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (MFAT) strides towards stronger sustainable development and security in the Pacific region, as well as their effective humanitarian responses and civil service training for Pacific crises. We encourage MFAT to take stronger stances on contentious Asia Pacific issues including: the genocide in West Papua, the human rights abuses under Filipino President Duterte, as well as democratic issues in Pacific nations.
6.3 While we understand that New Zealand is economically dependent on China, we believe we can encourage an interdependent relationship with China through increasing our dependence on non-agricultural industries, particularly tourism, through initiatives such as travel visas. We believe that through this we would grow our travel sector and gain more political influence.
6.4 We recognise the power imbalance in some international institutions, such as the United Nations, due to the dominance of certain states and the under representation of the Asia region. We acknowledge that this can cause institutional ineffectiveness. In light of this, we strongly support New Zealand’s ongoing efforts to protest veto power in the Security Council and wish to see further reform through the increase of Asian seats and further expansion in the ASEAN free trade area defence agreements and ASEAN Plus Six summits/conventions.
6.5 We believe that the standard of living in many refugee camps is unacceptable. Therefore, we strongly encourage increasing the annual refugee quota to address the rising number of displaced persons and asylum seekers. Furthermore, we discourage complacency regarding the standard of living within refugee camps. To combat this, we urge an increase in funding to non-governmental organisations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the aim of providing basic human needs, such as educational facilities, clean water and sanitation and livable housing conditions
6.6 We recognise the rise of isolationist radical populism and its negative impact on the global economy and traditional collaborative institutions. We recommend that the Government upholds an adaptable globalist approach in light of recent events in the United States, the United Kingdom and the Philippines.

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Ash and Alysia, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

Equity


Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Equity Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

5.1 We believe that there is currently not enough reliable information that allows us to fully support the needs of Aotearoa New Zealand’s diverse society. We would like to see more in-depth information gathering about minority communities. In particular, we would like more recognition of people with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ people.
5.2 We acknowledge that it is difficult for migrants, people from low socio-economic backgrounds, and individuals who live in rural areas to access disability support and information. Many people who need this information can struggle to access this information on the Internet. We see that establishing programmes and networks that provide information and support to individuals living with disabilities will ensure better quality of life.
5.3 We recognise that assigning intersex infants a sex/gender at birth causes severe harm to these individual’s long term mental and physical health. We recommend the Government ban medical gender assignment for intersex babies, in order to allow them the freedom of choice over their own identities later in life.
5.4 We are concerned that many schools enforce heteronormative policies, which limit LGBTQIA+ school groups, same sex couples at school balls, the scope of sex education, and gender affirming uniforms. We think these attitudes need to be reconsidered in order to create an inclusive, safe and positive environment for LGBTQIA+ students. We think this will help normalise these relationships and lead to healthy young people and safe sex practices.
5.5 We believe that societal expectations of masculinity and femininity can negatively impact the mental wellbeing of people of all genders. We believe these effects contribute to the existence of rape culture, men’s low levels of engagement with support services and the high rates of men’s suicide. We encourage the use of advertisements and educational materials to help challenge and change these expectations.
5.6 We recognise that both Sign Language and braille are currently not normalised in society which leads to communication barriers, limited learning opportunities and individuals becoming more vulnerable and isolated. We would like to see support for schools, businesses and employers to more commonly incorporate braille and Sign Language into public life.
5.7 We think that a lack of consent education in schools prevents us from understanding our rights and responsibilities in a healthy relationship. We recommend the Ministry of Education require schools to incorporate consent into current health and sex education courses, especially in Year 9 and 10.
A group of students pose together on the stairs of the Owen Glen Building at the University of Auckland.

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Dinithi and Bhen, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.