Other Questions. - Youth Services.

David Stanton


7 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on proposals for the national youth work development plan, 2002-06, by the national youth work advisory committee; the actions he intends to take in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21868/02]

The proposals for the national youth work development plan, 2002-06, are with my Department and have been approved in principle by the Minister of State with responsibility for youth affairs. It is proposed to seek Government approval for the publication of the plan. It is intended that this will be done in the near future.

As the policymaker in this area, what is the Minister of State's vision for youth work? What does she ideally want to see happening in our towns, cities and villages in three to five years time?

As the Deputy knows, there are a number of youth organisations. They are, therefore, well represented. These ensure the Department, the Minister and I are well aware of their priorities in this regard. The national youth work advisory committee was established in 1999 under the previous Government. The Youth Work Act, 1997, was prepared using proposals brought forward for a national youth work development plan. This plan resulted directly from consultation with all the key elements in the area of youth work. The previous Minister did not do this off the top of his head. The national youth work development plan, to which I referred, is based on the work done by the NYWAC and under the Act. It follows through on those provisions.

What is the Minister of State's vision for youth work? What does she want to see happening? Does she want to see youth services in every town and village? Does she agree that there is a great need for out-of-school activities for young people to divert them from alcohol abuse, drug abuse and other activities? In many of our towns there is absolutely nothing for our young people to do at night. This is an urgent problem. Instead of building prisons, we should be doing much more for youth services. This should be prioritised and fast-tracked. Can the Minister of State tell me her vision for this area?

All of us recognise the tremendous voluntary effort contributed in all sorts of sectors, particularly the youth sector. All the youth organisations were given an opportunity under the last Administration to bring forward their proposals. I accept the views expressed by those who work within the sector on a day-to-day basis. We have gone through these priorities and come up with a national development plan which we will be implementing when we hear from the Department of Finance. I want it to be published, but to do this we must get the views of the other Ministers around the Cabinet table. To this end I intend to bring a memorandum to Government which summarises my own vision based on the consultation and work that has been done. The Deputy will be made aware of this once the decision of the Government on the memorandum has been taken.