Push for Govt to review Youth Benefit

By Mānia Clarke

Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare says the government needs to review its youth benefit.  This follows the discovery last week that a group of homeless teenagers, have been camping in tents on West Auckland council land, for at least six months.

The bush has been home for 16-year-old Maverick and his friends for the last six months, because he couldn't get a youth payment.

Maverick says, "Last time I went into Henderson, the manager got the security to get me out, to get an Independent Youth Benefit, you needed a birth certificate to prove your ID, I had no ID, so I couldn't get the Independent youth (benefit)."

But within a week, WINZ offered to help him and his friends.

Blair McKenzie, Regional Commissioner, Ministry of Social Development, says, "We've been in contact with the six people identified as needing assistance since last Wednesday, when we first became aware of the situation, and we've continued to work with all six to identify permanent housing and accommodation arrangements for them."

Maverick says, "WINZ, they've been good, with any sort of money side we needed, but they haven't really started helping out until now.  I don't know, because maybe the cameras are here."

But Tāmaki MP Peeni Henare says the way the government assists the needy youth, needs to change.

"They should be given financial assistance, they need to be guided into education and training opportunities, so that they don't remain on the benefit," he says.

McKenzie says, "Anyone who's challenged with their housing circumstances it's important for us to be able find suitable accommodation arrangements for them."

Maverick and four of his friends will be moving to other accommodation soon but says they'll still come back to relax and be together.