A group of St John’s College students who petitioned a high-ranking Cabinet Minister were thrilled to receive a reply to their call for social change.
The year 10 and 11 students who make up their school’s advocacy group; Policy Light House sought the establishment of a permanent Alcohol and Other Drug Court in Hawkes Bay.
They believed that by shifting from a judicial model of punishment to one of treatment would not only make the community both stronger and safer but would be a more positive and proactive approach for those who are convicted.
However, despite spending hours of out of school time speaking with community leaders, researching the issue, and refining their proposal, the boys were surprised Hon. Andrew Little had noticed it, let alone listened to it.
While Policy Light House has only been operating since February, the school has been championing activism in this area for the past two years.
The boys; Seth Howes, Quin Finlayson, Samuel Brown, Conor Frith, Angus Ross, Matthew Walters, Oscar Cooper, Thomas Jones and Harry Unwin, contacted Little in February.
Nine months later, hours before he would announce that their vision would indeed become a reality, he sent a letter to the boys.
“When I am standing with our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, later today making the announcement I will be thinking of your advocacy. It was memorable and made a difference to my Labour Party’s Policy,” Little said.
Seth says he was “mind blown”.
“We were really surprised. We almost felt like we had failed, and we hadn’t achieved anything, and Covid-19 had come in our way and stopped us from achieving anything but then after Andrew little sent the letter out we were very happy.”
St John's College head of commerce and director of social enterprise and special projects David Ivory said: “The Policy Light House provides an opportunity for students to make a difference in society using an evidence-based approach.”
“It reflects the values of the school - advocacy of social justice issues, both national and regional, affecting those on the margins of society.
He said the working towards the establishment of a Hawkes Bay Drug Court provides a great example.
“The school via its Policy Light House was very pleased to be part of the journey towards its establishment - knowing it will make incredible differences in those who are addicted, who want to change, and their whānau.
“All the reported evidence and research explored by students, both nationally and internationally, suggest this will be the case.”
Jacinda Ardern, prior to being re-elected in October on the campaign trail that a Labour Government will introduce an Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court in Hawke's Bay, which will cost $11 million over four years, aiming to tackle the drivers of crime - alcohol, drug use and addiction - and reduce reoffending.
The announcement forms part of the party's long-term project to reduce offending and improve rehabilitation, which will involve an additional $59m investment over four years.
PHOTO: A group of St. John’s College students, pictured with senior Police Constable Christine Leppien, have successfully petitioned for a permanent Alcohol and Other Drug Court in Hawkes Bay.