The young people we engaged want to see an end to oppression of all kinds - no more racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia or ableism
Concerns about racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and transphobia were chosen by 62% participants in the survey (648 people).
186 people also wrote comments we have grouped under the heading ‘No more oppression’ in response to the open-field question, “What would you like to see changed in New Zealand to support your happiness and wellbeing?” Specifically, many of the comments were about the need for government and institutions (such as schools, universities, health providers) to dismantle systems of oppression e.g. institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, ableism and encourage inclusivity.
Some spoke about broad changes needed across society.
“I want to see living wages for all, equal opportunity in action, the tackling of inequalities in communities and especially in trying to transform communities who for generations have been the most oppressed, ignored and reduced. I want a kinder, healthier and more generous society. I want to see a process of decolonisation of minds, systems, processes, organisations and thoughts. Acceptance of diversity and valuing te ao Māori and te reo Māori as well as all contributions from migrants and immigrants. We need to shift away from a Pākehā-centric mindview.” - Anon, 24, Female, Waikanae
Others named education as an important starting point to teach young people to be more inclusive and welcoming towards difference.
“We need to increase awareness and education around internalised homophobia, sexism and transphobia where people are discriminatory but aren't aware of it.” - Danica, 16, Female, Auckland
“I recognise that it is difficult to shake some people's stigma around LBGTQ+ youth, but more education and support around the subject could combat people's homophobic views.” - Julia, 14, Female, Wellington
“We should learn about the Māori culture in schools because there's not much of that anymore. That would create less racism between cultures.” - Shaun, 15, Male, Weymouth
All of the gender diverse people who participated in our research mentioned changes that could be made to support their wellbeing specifically.
“We should make non-binary a recognised gender identity, along with they/them pronouns.” - Sam, 15, Gender Diverse, Levin
“We need more support for trans people. Less waiting time for hormone replacement therapy, and funding for surgeries. Free rainbow-friendly counselling and accessible information to access it. Protection and discrimination laws to keep trans and queer people safe.” - Anon, 20, Gender Diverse, Wellington
“We need appropriate and LGBTQ inclusive sex ed in schools.” - Zak, 17, Gender Diverse, Stratford
And Victoria Trow, Support Manager of Rainbow Youth added this:
“All schools should be required to have gender neutral bathrooms. Small changes like that could have a huge impact for our young people”
She also spoke about the role of government in leading cultural change.
“Marriage equality hasn't fixed homophobia but its made it much harder to be homophobic. That sort of policy signals a change in social attitudes. It makes it harder for people to discriminate. t bypasses the people who’s norms aren’t going to change, whose norms are detrimental to young people and it diminishes their capacity to harm young people.”
Some young people also spoke about the lack of representation of Asian, Māori and Pasifika people and language in media, education and government.
“I would like to see Māori and Pacific island culture and language to be represented and more encouraged to be spoken and learnt.” - Anon, 23, Female
“Te reo Māori should be a compulsory class to take at every college and intermediate. I want to see more Māori in the more popular political parties so they can make bigger decisions.” - Anon, 14, Female, Nelson
“Māori language and culture should be more widely respected, accepted, acknowledged, displayed, and just generally more prevalent.” - Grace, 18, Female, Porirua
“I would love if I could see Asian females working in diverse fields and leadership roles. Diversity and multiculturalism are an intrinsic part of New Zealand society.” - Abby, 18, Female, Auckland
“I want to see l mana motuhake realised for iwi Māori” - Merenia, 21, Female, Whakatāne
Others talked about how this lack of positive role models in media can contribute to internalised racism.
“I feel like even though New Zealand is extremely diverse and multicultural, I'm finding that I am becoming racist to my own race. For example, my parents are immigrants but I was born and raised here. I should stick up for everyone no matter what race but then I find myself criticising (in my head) others of my race for being 'cringe' or something absolutely ridiculous like that. I'm not really sure where these feelings have come from, but perhaps the way my race is portrayed on television or how I feel most people judge my race.” - Bonnie, 17, Female, Milford
The disability activist we spoke to had this to say:
“The government needs to create more entry-level positions for young people and take employment equity including for disabled people seriously. They can also play a significant role in terms of affecting attitude change in the private sector.”
“On a purely selfish level, I'd like there to be a functional regular bus from close to my house to get to the main bus station (which is about a 6-minute drive no traffic, and a walk with two treacherous roundabouts to cross with no lights that I can't do independently). On a systems level, regulation ensuring audio bus stop announcements nationally would be great. Also in various parts of Aussie not sure if the whole country, they have this system where you can call ahead to say you're getting off such and such bus or train at such time, and someone can come meet you and help you with the transfer. It'd be great if we could have that here. Blind people get the supported living payment which basically functions like a disability allowance here. Which is fabulous but WINZ forms still come in hard-copy in the mail - online options would be good.”
And finally, some of the young people who answered our survey believed we needed to do more for refugees.
“We should open our borders to more refugees and immigrants and ensure support structures for the vulnerable.” - Damien, 24, Male, Grey Lynn
“We need better support for refugees and New Zealand citizens living in poverty to be provided the tools and education to better their situation without bureaucratic hoops and financial band-aids.” - Dani, 23, Female, Dunedin