Budget 2023: Youth support leader says NZ isn't investing enough into our 'greatest asset', calls for more money in education, mental health

A youth support leader has given an insight into the tough realities young Kiwis face growing up, saying they aren't worried about Thursday's Budget but about "surviving". 

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said this year's Budget will be "no-frills" because it reflects the times the country's going through.

The Government also described the Budget, which will be released on Thursday, as being focused on the cost of living crisis.

But youth peer support specialist Rika Rosli told AM on Wednesday young people are "hopeful" the Budget can help them meet their daily needs but aren't overly confident about it. 

"Of course we're hopeful, but we've heard the cost of living, the cost of living, the cost of living over and over so many times and at the end of the day, we're not actually seeing the changes in our everyday lives," she told AM. 

Rosli believes there isn't enough investment into our "greatest asset" and wants the Budget to be focused on education and mental health.

"When you asked if the budget even matters, as a young person, if you are a person of colour, if you are queer, if you have a disability, you're not worried about the budget coming out tomorrow," she said,

"You're worried about surviving, to even see that budget do anything in this world we're growing up in." 

She believes the big difference between this generation and previous ones is the increase in social media and the speed at which the world is changing. 

"I think it's the speed at which we're growing up in which the world is changing and I think the generational gap is changing too," she told AM. 

"So even when I was a little younger, I could still relate to people five years younger than me and five years older than me and that's not the case anymore with the speed of social media, it's a different world and it's changing too fast and we can't keep up." 

She told AM there is "fear everywhere" for young people who have so much uncertainty over their future. 

A big part of that "fear" is the struggle to buy a house, to pay the bills and getting a job, Rosli said.

"We're not thinking about things we're told we should be thinking about at our age," she said. 

"Looking at investing towards buying our first home, it's not even an option anymore. We're not thinking about buying our first home, we're thinking about buying bread to put on the table for the week. So our mentality is changing because the world is changing so fast." 

Youth peer support specialist Rika Rosli.
Youth peer support specialist Rika Rosli. Photo credit: AM

New Zealand rugby league great Sir Graham Lowe, who was appearing on AM alongside Rosli, told the show the world is becoming more difficult for young people. 

"I think it was much easier when I was younger and I think Rika has put it beautifully with her words, she has just described what youth face at the moment," he said. 

"I can see the speed that things are changing and it's fantastic, but I feel for the young ones, I do feel for them because things are slowly and gradually getting out of their reach and it's alright for some that can afford to say, 'they're just not doing it right'. 

"It's not the same for everybody. I can see youth feeling more alienated as we go along and it's a shame." 

When asked if the Government understands what young people are going through with the cost of living crisis, Rosli said she feels really "disconnected". 

"I don't think they're seeing what it's actually like for real people," she said. 

"I would like to see more of a human-centred approach to this and looking more at those more vulnerable demographics." 

Watch the full interview with Rika Rosli and Sir Graham Lowe in the video above.