For the last four years, the people of Taumarunui have been part of a social experiment, aimed at improving the way Government services are delivered.

The DRIVE programme sought to bring youth offending rates down. It was initiated by the Ministry of Social Development's social sector trial team alongside police, community, whanau, and the youth themselves.

Youth crime rates in Taumarunui were concerning. The Drive programme has opened up opportunities for young people in terms of training, employment according to Social Sector Trials Manager Hiraina Tarawa.

Police have said the programme has made a huge difference to young people they are dealing with.

"There is a monthly meeting with youth and mentors, fun stuff happens - sport related. There will be a speaker that comes in and tries to instil some belief in the young people. There is a bit of kai afterwards, so it's pretty friendly and fun," says youth aid officer Joel O'Meara.

Differences that, organisers of the trials say, have dropped the youth crime rates.

"We have seen rangatahi move from crime into employment, education and training," says Ms Tarawa.

A positive change, for the rural community.


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