19 Jul 2022

Greymouth Youth MP works for teen sexual health

From The House , 2:05 pm on 19 July 2022

Samantha Bergin’s main priority during her tenure as a Youth MP is establishing a sexual health clinic at her school. 

She's one of 120 Youth MPs from across the country who have come together in Wellington for the Youth Parliament, an event that happens every three years. It mirrors real Parliament as we all know it, except that all of the participants are young people aged 16-24.

Youth MP Samantha Bergin, representing Labour MP Damien O’Connor.

Youth MP Samantha Bergin, representing Labour MP Damien O’Connor. Photo: Mishka Lombaard

It is an opportunity for the youth of Aotearoa to get involved in New Zealand politics, either from being a Youth Member of Parliament (MP), a Youth Press Gallery Member, or even as the Youth Clerk for the event. And in the case of this year's West Coast-Tasman representative, a chance to try and help one's direct community.

Samantha Bergin is a year-13 student from Greymouth High School who is representing Damien O’Connor as his Youth MP for the 2022 Youth Parliament. At school, she is in Ngā Here Kahikatea, the Maori Pathway, and is currently learning all about her whakapapa and where she comes from. As the Pūmanawa wāhine for her school, she is very active within the community promoting Māori performative arts as a keen participant and leader in Kapa Haka. 

As well as being a voice for Māori and Pasifika rights, Bergin is a keen advocate for sexual health for all people. The lack of access to sexual health knowledge and support on the West Coast is a big concern for her.

“I’m in an all female year-13 health class and there was probably four of us that knew, out of 20 in the class, that there is a sexual health clinic in Greymouth. That’s concerning.” 

The sexual health clinic operates on limited hours, only being open on Monday, from 2.30pm to 6pm. Bergin says this time-frame simply does not work for students who don’t have their own transportation or are reliant on buses and caregivers for rides home after school.

“The access to students, for people that want to leave school, (who) have to get consent from parents, people on buses, it's just not accessible.” 

Bergin is aiming to create a new access point of sexual health services for the students at her school. Awaiting approval from the District Health Board, she is working alongside the school’s senior leadership team to create an onsite clinic that will be available to students during school hours. 

The creation of an on site sexual health clinic could be life-altering for the rangatahi of her school, Bergin says. Its establishment could hopefully act as an example for other schools in the area to potentially do the same. 

The West Coast, like many other rural areas across Aotearoa, has a dire need for better access to sexual health services for young people.  But the West Coast-Tasman electorate’s rangatahi can rest assured knowing that their Youth MP is doing her utmost  to create more access points to sexual health services and the promotion of sexual health for young people in general.  For Samantha Bergin, creating equality in accessing basic services that should be available to all  For Youth MP Samantha Bergin, this is a no-brainer. 

*Mishka Lombaard is a member of the Youth Press Gallery which takes the role of independent media reporting on Youth MPs and Youth Parliament 2022. This article can be republished freely on your platform subject to the following conditions:

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  • It must include the following attribution to RNZ as the copyright owner: This story was originally published on RNZ and is republished with permission.