Canterbury DHB Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is a group of young people between 16 to 24 years old who voluntarily advocate for 12 to 24 year olds in the Canterbury Health System.
The council was formed in 2014 to advise the Canterbury DHB on youth-related matters in relation to policy and health services. They also support primary care through training for GPs on making their practice more youth-friendly. Council members represent the diversity of Canterbury youth and include Māori, Pasifika, CALD, disability representatives, and members of the rainbow community.
YAC Chairperson, Chelsea Skinner, draws on her own experience as a young person navigating the health system and feels strongly about empowering and uplifting the youth voice.
“YAC is an organisation by young people, for young people. As well as our own lived experiences, we are always engaging with and responding to the needs of rangatahi and whānau,
“We have a Transition Mentoring Programme which supports young people transitioning from paediatric to adult health services. This programme was developed in response to meeting with various whānau and young people. The transition can be quite traumatic for young people and we are there to help them understand the system and empower them to advocate for themselves.”
The past couple of years have had a large impact on young people in Aotearoa. Chelsea has seen a lot of frustration being felt by youth.
“Last year, we had the Two Shots for Summer campaign. Young people stepped up and got their COVID-19 vaccinations, but then still didn’t get the summer they were promised. They are experiencing a lot of isolation and frustration but there’s no voice for them or recognition of what they are experiencing. We have also seen mental health issues exacerbating since lockdowns began in 2020.”
To learn more about YAC and how they can support you or your whānau, visit them on Facebook and Instagram, or come on down to Bark in the Park on Saturday, May 7 in North Hagley Park.
Cover image: Chelsea Skinner (R) with backpacks that YAC provide to young people admitted to Christchurch Hospital.
Read the full May newsletter here