National health and development youth policies: valuable exercises or bureaucratic niceties?

David Hanna and Sue Bagshaw
Med J Aust 2005; 183 (8): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2005.tb07099.x
Published online: 17 October 2005

A national policy challenges professionals to move beyond their specific field and view young people from a broad holistic perspective

Health practitioners specialising in adolescence tend to have some common characteristics. They are passionate about young people. They have a strong community focus. And they tend to view health from a broad perspective that encompasses the links with families, peers and the school or workplace. It is this broad perspective that provides the critical link between discussions about adolescent health and those about youth development. This article begins with a wider focus on positive youth development and then shifts to ask questions in relation to health practice and delivery. In early 2002, the New Zealand Government released the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa.1 This document was the product of extensive discussions and workshops with a cross-section of young people, youth practitioners and academics with an overseas peer review process. Led by the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Strategy’s goal was ambitious. It was to provide a common framework that would inform all government policies in relation to young people. The driving question being — what do “we” need to do to support the development of a healthy youth population?

  • David Hanna1
  • Sue Bagshaw2

  • 1 Wesley Community Action, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • 2 198 Youth Health Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Competing interests:

None identified.


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