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What is youth work?
Youth work is a profession that supports young people aged 12-25 years to engage with their community and develop skills and capabilities to achieve their goals. Youth workers provide strengths-based, holistic care to young people to reach their full potential and thrive as active members of their community. They recognise young people as experts of their own lives, and work in a way that promotes and encourages this.
Why do we need youth work?
There are over a million young people aged 12-25 in Victoria. Many young people do not have access to the assistance and support they need. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally impacted young people's lives and further exacerbated issues they were already facing. More young Victorians are trying to access support to navigate through these challenges, and youth workers are fundamental to providing dedicated, targeted support to ensure young people are able to thrive.
Investing in Youth Work
Victoria needs a strong, secure, well-funded youth sector now, more than ever, to play a critical role in the COVID-19 recovery. Youth work represents a smart investment in prevention, early intervention and recovery, that will be crucial to rebuilding the social and economic fabric of young Victorians’ lives. Addressing young people’s challenges early, before they reach crisis point, will provide significant social and economic returns for young people and the whole community.
To this end, the Victorian Youth Sector Coalition calls on the Victorian Government to invest in the youth sector and the future of all young Victorians by funding:
- A COVID-19 Youth Recovery initiative to provide additional youth workforce capacity and capability for youth and community services across the state, to address increased demand and the long tail of COVID, and to provide capacity in coming years to implement the Government’s reforms.
- A Young Peer Workers program that will create jobs and career pathways in youth work for young people from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds and from rural and regional areas, to bring their lived experience to improve outcomes for other young people, and increase the youth / social sector’s capacity and workforce pipeline.
- Explore potential concepts to improve and create systemic change in the youth sector.
This call and need for youth work is not new. Even prior to COVID-19 in 2018, we called on the Victorian Government to employ more trained, supported youth workers in Victoria to meet the needs of young people.
About the Victorian Youth Sector Coalition
The Victorian Youth Sector Coalition, led by YACVic, brings together leaders from key organisations across the youth sector and broader social sector, aiming to drive better outcomes for Victoria’s young people through recognition of the value of youth work and its unique attributes that make it so indispensable.
The Youth Sector Coalition is working collaboratively on the Youth Work Matters campaign and 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.