Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Youngsters still feeling stressed in post-quake Canterbury

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The shaking may have stopped but the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes rolls on, with one in four youngsters feeling stressed all or most of the time, a survey has shown.

A groundbreaking new survey has revealed the stress levels of young people aged between 12 and 24 in the post-disaster zone. It found the majority of young people have experienced stress in the last 12 months that has had a negative effect on them.

And 27 per cent of the 3341 respondents to the 2013 Youth Wellbeing Survey said they were stressed always or most of the time.

Of those leaving school last year, just 28 per cent said they were planning to settle or look for a job in greater Christchurch. The rest wanted to move outside of the area (35 per cent) or were unsure where they would settle (37 per cent).

Part of the problems stemmed from a lack of things to do, with 73 per cent reporting the loss of places they used to go, like libraries, cafes, places of worship and cultural centres.

Another 18 per cent acutely felt the loss of sports and recreations facilities.

"The survey results are okay . . . but we have to be very honest about addressing the issues," Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye said at the survey results announcement today.
She announced the creation of the Canterbury Youth Initiative Fund which will provide $100,000 for new projects for young people.

Understanding young people's recovery needs was key to ensuring the right decisions are made for the future, said Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority Chief Executive Roger Sutton.

"Young people will be living in this city long after the rebuild is complete and we need to know how best to cater for their wellbeing. The survey also gives young people a chance to have their voices heard by those leading the recovery," said Mr Sutton.

"Those voices are telling us in particular that the loss of places to go and hang out with friends or play sport has really affected young people."

Seventy per cent of those surveyed said they have lost access to those places since the earthquakes and the loss of spaces and recreational facilities remain the top two stressors for young people.

Ms Kaye, who is also Associate Education Minister, also confirmed today that a $200,000 project is under way to provide Christchurch students, particularly those in low-decile schools, with better access to digital learning.

The aim of the programme is for every student aged over nine from participating schools to have access to online learning both at school and at home, either through leased or bought digital devices.

Mr Sutton welcomed the Government's announcements today.

"This funding will be used to, among other things, run a great series of youth events and initiatives this year," he said.

"These are events we want to not only see young people at, but young people organising. We're calling on young people and youth organisations to step forward and apply to put something on."

Mr Sutton says that despite the loss of spaces and places, the survey shows that young people are doing well in post-earthquake greater Christchurch and reveals "positive wellbeing trends" in the recovery.

"Four out of five young people told us they have someone to turn to when they need help and over half feel a sense of community with others in their neighbourhood," Mr Sutton said.

"The majority of young people also agreed that Christchurch provides good opportunities for future study, employment and careers.

"We are aware that some young people are struggling with their emotional wellbeing and the organisations we have worked with on the survey are looking at ways to address this."

- APNZ

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