Update on Policy Issues for those in Youth Work in Ireland 
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Policy Brief

Christmas 2015

Low Pay Commission 


The Minister of State for Labour Affairs, Ged Nash has requested the Law Pay Commission examine the situation regarding young people and the minimum wage. Currently, workers under 18 years of age, or those in their first or second year of work may be paid a lower hourly rate of pay. The rate can be reduced to between 70 and 90% of the main rate depending on age. Those who are on certain training courses may also receive lower rates of pay. The Low Pay Commission did not previously recommend any change in the reduced rate as a percentage (the lower rate will increase proportionately with the overall increase in the minimum wage. The announcement then must be welcomed although it seems unclear what the intention is.
Minister Nash’s Announcement
Youth Work Ireland Press Release


EU Youth Guarantee – Evaluation in the New Year 


The European Union drove the agenda to promote the idea of a Youth Guarantee. This would mean all young people would have access to a job, education or training within 4 months of becoming unemployed. The preventative focus recognised the key importance of young people getting a good start in the labour market rather than drifting in to unemployment. The EU has provided additional funding through the Youth Employment Initiative and earmarked and fast-tracked elements of the structural funds to support this work. Ireland has submitted a plan for the Youth Guarantee and evaluations will take place in the new year.
European Commission Presentation on the Youth Guarantee (thanks to the European Economic and Social Committee, presented on a “check against delivery” basis)
Youth Guarantee Country Report – Ireland


Children s Rights Alliance - Rights and Wrongs

The Children’s Rights Alliance held an important training event “Turning Wrongs to Rights: Using Remedies to Vindicate Children’s Rights’ on 26 November. The session was targeted towards advice givers, family and parental support workers, youth workers and others supporting children, young people and their families. The speakers were Brian Barrington, Barrister, Noeline Blackwell, Director General, Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), Barra Lysaght, Legal Officer, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Paraic Walsh, Investigator, Ombudsman for Children
Barra Lysaght Presentation
Noeline Blackwell Presentation
Paraic Walsh Presentation


EU Youth Policy

The EU Youth Report builds on statistical analysis of the situation of young people in the EU and reports under agreed headings by each member state. The report paints a positive picture of young people in many areas such as their education, volunteering and civic engagement. However, there are still major areas of disadvantage and exclusion. The structured dialogue process has become a major method of involving young people in the policy making process. The ERASMUS+ Programme is also a central tool.
EU Commission Presentation on EU Youth Policy (thanks to the European Economic and Social Committee, presented on a “check against delivery” basis)

Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will contain a package of measures designed to tackle our harmful relationship with alcohol, reducing alcohol consumption and the related harms. The measures proposed for inclusion in the Bill were announced by Government in October 2013 and are based on the recommendations of the Steering Group Report on the National Substance Misuse Strategy, which was published in February 2012. The measures will go some way to addressing the key areas of alcohol-harm reduction, including the pricing, marketing and availability of alcohol.
Alcohol Action Ireland on the Bill  
The Irish Times Coverage  


Parliamentary Questions

Recent parliamentary questions of interest were on The Youth Guarantee Young Entrepreneurs Child Poverty and Childhood Obesity


Quarterly Briefing 


Both TusLa and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on health and Children on December 10 2015. Issues for TusLa included the child protection notification system, Commissioning, Family Resource Centres, and in discussion the underfunding of the agency. The Minister’s focus included adoption, childcare, Oberstown, additional funding, the Youth Strategy and Dail na nOg
Transcripts Available Here


Marriage Equality Finally Law

The Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald has signed the commencement order for the Marriage Act 2015, which will enable same-sex couples to marry in Ireland. The accompanying regulation, under the Civil Registration Act 2002, was signed by Tánaiste Joan Burton. This meant that from Monday, 16 November, same-sex couples can give full notice of their intention to marry. Those who have already given notice for a civil partnership will be able to get married instead
The Irish Times Story
The Irish Independent  


Youth Manifesto

We often here young people are our greatest resource and a major priority for the political system. However, many do not see the evidence of this in the day to day world of politics. Young people suffered most in the crisis according to the ESRI and NESC. The harsh reality is that older people are more vocal, register to vote and exercise far greater pressure on the political system. Yet we now have various methods and approaches to providing a greater say for young people. Youth Work Ireland wants to connect these two together. Early in 2016 Youth Work Ireland will facilitate a process to devise a youth manifesto to be led by young people and launched during the 2016 General Election campaign. We are on the look out for any young people who may be interested.
Contact Youth Work Ireland if interested in the Youth Manifesto   


Dáil na nÓg 2015  

The theme for Dáil na nÓg 2015 was ‘the need for young people to have a stronger voice in their education and school’. This theme came out of workshop discussions at the Comhairle Showcase 2014 in which over 400 young people voted on the areas of their lives in which they least had a say. Education and School came out on top. Topics for discussion in workshops on the day were as follows: 
Subject choice, Transition year, what happens in the classroom, Uniforms and personal appearance
After a vote by all 200 delegates by private ballot, the winning topic was What happens in the Classroom’. This will form the basis of the work-plan for the incoming Comhairle na nÓg National Executive.
Dail na nOg Website
Delegate Guide  


EU Commission on Migration and Integration 

The crisis of large inward migration has come to the top of the EU agenda with very disturbing scenes from our external borders. The political response has focused initially on numbers and distribution where Ireland opted in to the EU system. Increasingly the focus is changing to the hugely important task of integration. The EU has developed an “agenda on migration” which is to deal with all of these topics. This may present some difficulties as the EU lacks competences in many of the relevant areas particularly, for example, mainstream education. The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) was set up for the period 2014-20, with a total of EUR 3.137 billion for the seven years. It will promote the efficient management of migration flows and the implementation, strengthening and development of a common Union approach to asylum and immigration.
The Asylum Migration and Integration Fund
EU Agenda on Migration – State of Play


HIV Ireland 

HIV Ireland (formerly the Dublin AIDS Alliance) is a new national organisation which aims to contribute towards a significant reduction in the incidence and prevalence of HIV in Ireland and towards the realisation of an AIDS-free generation. Fittingly the organisation was formally launched on December 1st.  It will advocate for individuals living with HIV, preventing new HIV infections and combating HIV-related stigma and discrimination. The new departure signifies a truly national approach to the issue of HIV and aims to combat the discrimination that people with HIV face by moving away from the focus on AIDS. The organisation also has plans to engage more with the youth sector on issues of sexual health.
HIV Ireland Launch
HIV Ireland Website  


TusLa Commissioning 


The process of commissioning has been described by TusLa as “as the process of deciding how to use the total resources available for children and families in order to improve outcomes in the most efficient, effective, equitable, proportionate and sustainable way” Many projects in the youth sector formerly funded by the HSE may in the future be subjected to a new commissioning process. TusLa also believe the commissioning of health and social services and specifically children and family services requires a unique approach when compared to the commissioning of goods and services in other, less complex, sectors. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with the DCYA, the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment and the Centre for Effective Services have carried out research on the subject in Ireland. In reality, while there is a lot published on the topic at a high level it is still unclear precisely what commissioning will look like on the ground despite considerable discussion.
TusLa Commissioning National Guidance & Local Implementation
DPER DCYA Environment and Health Report


EP on Child Poverty 


More than one in four children live at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU, totaling 26 million children. Children living in poverty are at higher risk of poor health, not finishing school, worsened relationships with peers and unable to reach their full potential in life. In a historic move recently, the majority of Members of the European Parliament signed a declaration promoting investment in children. The Written Declaration, designed to raise political awareness towards the European Commission and the Member States, calls for social and macroeconomic policies to protect children and their families as a political priority, especially those living in poverty. 
The written declaration calls upon the European Commission to introduce specific indicators on children at risk of poverty; it also urges EU Member States to use EU funding to implement the Commission Recommendation ‘Investing in Children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’. 
Full story from Eurochild
The Declaration

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