20 Sep 2011

Utah conference seeks to help Pacific youth

2:37 pm on 20 September 2011

A conference in Utah, in the US, this week aims to find culturally appropriate strategies for dealing with troubled Pacific Island youth.

Young Pacific people face various challenges, including low achievement in education, gangs, violence and substance abuse.

A Utah-based Tongan social worker, Hemaloto Katoa, is taking part, and says organisers hope to attract an array of community stakeholders to the first time gathering, that's entitled "Navigating the Future" .

"Now we want to move, let's be clear, following other efforts that our people really want some hands on work to be able to take home and utilise with their families. We know what the problems are and now we really want to push and make a difference and do something about it."

Hemaloto Katoa says the shift from cultural knowledge to a Western lifestyle could also be impacting negatively on Pacific youth.

Utah has more than 13,000 Tongans and a similar number of Samoan residents.