The Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) courses run by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) provide an avenue for youth around Aotearoa to get their lives back on track.
Trainees undergo an intensive six week programme of lectures, workshops and physical activities designed to develop core values and team work. Minister of Defence Ron Mark opened the newest LSV facility in Trentham today.
Mark says, "Some of these young people, just through circumstances, are either not doing well in school, have not been able to grow [or be] mentored, tutored, guided appropriately."
Since 2010 over 3,500 trainees have completed the courses, which target the 18-25 age group. Marks says the course is no easy feat.
"Yes, there's military discipline, yes there's structure, yes the expectation is you get up at six and you'll be ready to roll."
The facility will house up to 360 trainees and 40% of staff are Māori and Polynesian.
Warrant Officer Mark Mortiboy says the aim is "role modeling hopefully to make an impact on these young people to let them know that everything is possible in life".
Miru Mclean is the cultural adviser at the Burham Army Camp in Christchurch and has seen first-hand the positive impact the LSV course has had on many youth.
"When they are in this learning environment, their spirits are uplifted, they find strength to do the work. The main thing is, they find employment at the completion of the course."
The NZDF has been working in conjunction with the MSD on the course for the last 26 years. Associate Minister of Social Development Poto Williams says its been an important relationship in supporting youth.
"The MSD's role is to support, in that way to ensure that the young person is prepared as well as they can be to take the full advantage of this opportunity."
"This facility is staffed, built and the training systems and the course is designed specifically to help these young people get back on their feet."
Mark is also developing an ongoing mentoring service for trainees after completion of the course.