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Investing in young people for a thriving future
Victoria’s young people need a strong commitment from the next Victorian Government, to support them through the COVID-19 recovery and into the future.
Every young person deserves the support and opportunities to achieve what they want in life. But there are significant gaps in services for young people across employment, mental health, housing and more. And the COVID-19 pandemic has further slammed young people and is still impacting their lives.
That’s why Youth Work Matters. More young people than ever before need generalist support to (re)engage with community, school, family and services; and for specialised interventions in areas such as mental health, employment, and housing. YACVic’s survey of 61 (77%) Local Government Councils across Victoria found that COVID-19 increased the demand for youth services, including mental health, education, and employment, adding pressure to services that were already facing significant challenges.
We’re calling for all parties to commit to making a historic investment in young people and youth services across Victoria, to rebuild the social and economic fabric of young people's lives.
YACVic's Top Five Election Priorities
Priority #1: Early Intervention
Invest in more early intervention and prevention services for young people across Victoria
Investment in early intervention and prevention services for young people will ensure fewer young people require acute interventions and crisis support. This will enable young people to seek out opportunities and positively engage in their communities, empowering them to live active and fulfilling lives. It will also significantly reduce service costs to the government.
This is particularly important in rural and regional communities, where specialist services are limited and often difficult to access.
- Invest more in generalist youth services and community-based programs for all young people, especially in rural and regional areas
- Invest in specialist early intervention youth programs where young people are already disengaging or at-risk (e.g. mental health, youth justice, family violence, education, housing, employment).
Priority #2: Youth Work Workforce
Invest more in the capacity and capabilities of the youth sector to drive improved outcomes for young people
Skilled youth workers and youth services provide important social and economic benefits to young people and the community. However, there is a lack of adequate, multi-year funding for youth programs, resulting in high staff turnover due to job insecurity. There is also a shortage of trained youth workers in regional and rural Victoria, and of youth workers with lived experience of marginalisation and disadvantage, such as First Nations, multicultural, disabled and LGBTIQA+ communities.
At the same time, recent graduates often have difficulty finding secure employment in the youth sector, due to a lack of entry-level positions that provide employment pathways for people completing their Bachelor of Youth Work, Diploma of Youth Work, or other relevant courses.
Investing in a skilled and diverse youth work workforce ensures young people are getting the best support and services available.
Invest in building the youth work workforce by:
- Funding supported ‘earn and learn’ traineeships in youth services
- Subsidising youth work degree scholarships
- Providing subsidies to create entry level jobs.
Priority for these opportunities should be given to young people with diverse lived experiences (young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, First Nations, LGBTIQA+, disabled, and rural communities), as well as other young people with lived experience of disadvantage or marginalisation.
Priority #3: Systems Reform
Improve approaches for key services supporting young people
Many young people require joined up and targeted supports to address the various challenges they are facing. Youth services provide direct support, and also connect young people with other agencies, supporting them to have a holistic team of care around them.
The significant and ongoing challenges to young people’s economic security, engagement in education, mental health, housing security, social connection and family supports, have resulted in an increased demand for critical youth services, and highlighted system deficiencies.
Young people across Victoria experience higher rates of unemployment and under-employment compared to the total population, and more needs to be done to ensure they have access to sustainable, meaningful employment opportunities. Young people also face significant challenges related to housing security, and there needs to be a commitment to review the current system and how it disadvantages young people. There is also a severe lack of youth-specific family violence services and skills, resulting in young people unable to access appropriate care and support.
- Develop a Victorian Youth Guarantee that ensures all young people are supported into secure employment, education or an apprenticeship/traineeship that is matched to their interests and goals, within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
- Develop a Youth Homelessness Strategy, which focuses on ending youth homelessness by improving access to affordable and safe housing for all young people, as well as supplying wraparound services, so that young people are supported holistically.
- Invest in youth-specific family violence services, and build the capacity of the family and violence and youth work workforces, to provide targeted assistance to young people experiencing family violence.
Priority #4: Youth Participation
Include young people in decision making that affects their lives
Young people are largely underrepresented in government or community decisions which affect them. Decision-makers often fail to actively seek their views and opinions, or meaningfully involve them in developing policies and initiatives that impact their lives.
Youth participation is about challenging traditional methods of decision-making and service delivery, and ensuring genuine inclusion of more underrepresented voices and diverse lived experiences.
It is essential to prioritise genuine youth participation in policy and program development, at all levels of decision-making including co-design, implementation, governance and evaluation.
- Embed funding for youth participation in grants and service agreements, and state and local government projects and reforms.
- Encourage Youth Advisory Groups in all relevant contexts, especially local government and schools
Priority #5: Sector Cohesion and Efficiency
Invest more in collective action, information sharing and efficiency, especially via YACVic’s role as the peak body
Connecting, collaborating and sharing information across the youth sector is crucial to ensuring young people have access to integrated and seamless care. It facilitates collective action, peer support and continual improvement.
As the recognised peak body for young people and the youth sector in Victoria, YACVic plays an important and impartial role in informing and engaging across the youth sector and beyond, promoting cohesion, effectiveness and efficiency.
YDAS, YACVic Rural and the HEY Partners are all proven to be delivering strong outcomes. Additional funding would scale that impact for greater numbers of rural, disabled and LGBTIQA+ young people.
YACVic has also worked strongly for several years on young people’s involvement in disaster resilience and recovery, and an opportunity exists for Victoria to show national and global leadership in this space.
- Provide adequate core funding to YACVic to ensure continued viability as backbone and convenor of youth sector, and to coordinate key initiatives such as supported traineeships.
- Provide ongoing and expansion funding for:
- YACVic Rural
- Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS)
- HEY Grants & Partners
YACVic's State Election Platform - full version
YACVic consulted with young people and the youth sector to develop our state election platform. This document includes not only YACVic's top five election priorities, but the broader priorities of young people and the youth sector in Victoria.
Who we are
The Youth Work Matters Campaign is led by Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), the peak body and leading policy advocate for young people and the youth sector.
This campaign has also received support and funding from the Youth Sector Coalition, bringing together leaders from key organisations across the youth sector and broader social sector to drive better outcomes for Victoria’s young people through recognition of the value of youth work and its unique attributes.
The Youth Sector Coalition includes:
- The Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), Whitelion, the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY), Melbourne City Mission (MCM), Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), Youth Live4Life, Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs), Knox City Council, Swan Hill Rural City Council, Grampians Community Health, Women's Health Goulburn North East and Western Bulldogs Community Foundation.
- The heads of the three Youth Work degree programs in Victoria (Australian Catholic University, RMIT University, and Victoria University), and TAFE Gippsland which delivers the Community Services certification that is often a pathway to youth work.