May 2015

A programme to help South Taranaki's young people has been extended by a year. The social sector trial, SWEET (South Working to Enable and Empower Teens) started in 2013 as an initiative for 12- to 18-year-olds aimed at ensuring support provided by agencies was useful in making a difference for young people.

The focus was on improving engagement in education and training while also reducing alcohol- and drug-related harm, truancy and offending.

Trial manager Melanie Loft said the extension would allow the government to make decisions about enabling, connecting and strengthening community-based cross-agency service delivery models.

Loft likened the trial's extension, from July 1, to a vote of confidence. A new action plan would be implemented at the start of July and Loft said that included 45 new actions identified during a community consultation process.

"The government is definitely committed to improving the social service delivery in trial communities and they want it to be sustainable and effective."

As well as iwi, Loft said she was working with everyone from volunteers to 38 schools within their age group, CYFS, Work and Income, youth therapists, local government community boards and Lions clubs.

"Not every stone is unturned but we've had a really good crack at it this time."

Social development minister Anne Tolley said 16 trials around the country had been extended.

"The social sector trials are demonstrating that a community-based approach can better coordinate Government resources to the people who need them."

Feedback would be extremely important over the next year.

"With a view to adopting permanent structures, over the next twelve months we will take a close look at what is effective in the trial areas and analyse how the trials can work alongside other initiatives such as Children's Teams and Whanau Ora, in the changing social sector landscape."

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Loft said South Taranaki's would be a living document in constant consultation and would change as the community evolved.

© South Taranaki Star

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