Minister Joe O’Brien addresses the Planet Youth Strategy Consultation Day

8th July, 2022

Minister Joe O’Brien opened the Planet Youth Strategy Consultation Day held in Portmarnock on the 8th of July.  The strategy involves a program of surveys, consisting of extensive data collection and information dissemination concerning family and adolescent welfare. Part of this effort was designed to inform the need for population-wide primary-prevention through research aimed at arresting and reversing observed increases in adolescent substance use. Today this method is being run in five continents of the world under the name of Planet Youth.

At the end of 2021 the Task force undertook a huge population study of risk and protective factors and health and wellbeing indicators of young people aged 14-16 in North County Dublin.  2677 individual young people in North County Dublin were analysed based on an 80 question detailed instrument which they completed in schools and other education centres. The data is anonymous and very comprehensive.   It captured details on every aspect of growing up in North County Dublin including but not limited to:  engagement in community , facilities, services, school life, family life, peer engagement, smoking, drug & alcohol use, vaping, physical exercise, mental health, sexual, emotional, economic wellbeing, social media engagement, anti-social behaviour and a range of other indicators.

This study will be conducted every 2 years.  It provides a baseline for all services, agencies, groups and individuals involved in young persons’ lives in North County Dublin to inform their plans and efforts to improve young people’s lives and future opportunities and reduce the likelihood of them engaging in harmful behaviours including substance use.

The event in Portmarnock brought together key stakeholders to examine the data under 3 key themes ‘community’, ‘health and wellbeing’ and ‘Child & family.  Participants at the event were to look at the evidence that has emerged from the study under that theme and identify what needs to change (goals) and agree specific actions to achieve those goals.  Central to the work is the recognition that no one agency or service has all the answers.  By each partner committing to an aspect of the plan that is within their scope of practise and pooling the expertise and efforts of all partners into one cohesive strategy that links all of those actions together we can achieve long term positive change.

Addressing the Consultation Day Minister O’Brien said:

This is a very significant day and a very significant event for young people in North Dublin.

I want to acknowledge the scale of the work already completed to get us to this point. 2677 surveys were conducted with 14-16yr olds, which is 75% of the target group. This kind of participation does not happen without a huge amount of relationship building and collaboration. The youth strategy that will be developed out of today’s discussions will be based on very solid evidence, provided by young people themselves.

I’m really struck by the breadth and depth of organisations, experience, perspective, and expertise in the room today. We have a duty towards the young people of north Dublin to make the most of this today. Fingal as a whole has the youngest population of any county in the State, so the impact of our work will be very significant I believe.

Too many reports get launched and left unimplemented, but this is clearly not going to happen with Planet Youth – based on the evident level of commitment here. What we are trying to do is ambitious and will require commitment over time, to make north Dublin a safe and supportive place for young people that gives them opportunities to grow and flourish.”

The development of a clearly defined youth strategy that is based on robust data with goals, actions and named partners that will be reviewed and updated as we complete each risk and protective factor & health and wellbeing study with the population of young people in North County Dublin every 2 years.

– ENDS –