FAQs for young people

What exactly is a ‘Young Thinker in Residence’? 

YACVic Young Thinker in Residence positions are designed to give young Victorians the opportunity to research and report on a particular subject within YACVic on a social issue that they care passionately about. The aim is to inject the voices of young people into sector conversation, policy and action.

In 2017 we had two Young Thinkers, Brittany wrote a research report on young people transitioning to independence from out-of-home care and Annika created a video campaign about the impact of family violence on children and young people.

In 2018 we had two Young Thinkers working in a partnership model with other organisations. Mo worked on a project, sponsored by Melbourne City Mission, to raise awareness of body-based therapies for young Queer-Trans-People-Of-Colour (QTPOC) using homeless services. An event and self-care poster emerged from their project. We also had Harry thinking on a project, funded by the Victorian Government’s Office for Youth, on intergenerational relationships for refugee and migrant young people navigating life-changing decisions.

But remember, you can choose any topic you like as long as it fits with topic guidelines as outlined for the role you’re applying for.

Are you really going to pay me to ‘think’?

Well yeah! There’s a bit more to it than that, as we are expecting you to deliver something as a result of your thinking. We’re flexible about what this might look like but it does need to include something that we can use for ongoing advocacy. You may produce an essay, a report, a presentation or a video that sums up the work you have done. We will host an event to launch your project/campaign and so you’ll need to be comfortable with presenting in public.

What will I actually be doing?

You’ll be paid as a casual member of staff to work on a self-directed project. You’ll be supervised and will have access to a diverse support team who will guide and empower you to create your project. Project management from start to finish is key to the Young Thinkers program. This includes:

  • researching your awesome idea and looking for resources to help you build your project
  • creating a project plan and deliver your project with help from your supervisor, mentors and networks
  • consult and network with other young people and/or services and workers
  • organise and host any interviews and/or focus groups to help you with your project
  • share your 'thinking' and project with the world! This will look different for everyone but will include something concrete that we can use to continue advocacy for your ideas/asks long after your contract has ended.

I’ve got full-time commitments (work, study etc.) – can I still do it? 

Maybe! We don’t want to set you up for failure and so we’ll discuss this if we’re concerned. We will be flexible about when and where you do your ‘thinking’ because we know you've got other commitments too! If you’ll be away for a period of time during the project please contact us to discuss your suitability for this role.

What is the age bracket?

 We’re offering this to young adults (18+ years old at the start date of the project) because the role requires a level of independent work and study.

Can I do it from home/outside Melbourne? 

Definitely. You will want to spend most of the time in the YACVic and sponsor offices to get settled and make the most of the opportunity by meeting staff and getting a real sense of how both organisations work and feel, but we can chat about this further and you can do the vast majority remotely if this suits you better. If you live in country Victoria then you might want to give us a call about the practicalities of working on this project. We have offices in Warrnambool and Swan Hill which may make for potential places to work from and if these aren’t anywhere near where you live we’ll be keen to discuss how you could take part in this project.

Can I do it all in the YACVic or sponsor’s office?

 Short answer, yes! Long answer, YACVic has a busy office in Melbourne’s CBD with flexible working space, where you are welcome to work from with your own laptop/device. If you will need a computer then we should be able to work this out but there will need to be some flexibility as there is not always a computer guaranteed. Fridays are usually a quiet day in the office, which means there’s always a computer available. The sponsor organisation is likely to have some flexibility too.

Is your office accessible?

Yes, we are based near public transport, have step free access from street level and there is wheel chair bathroom facilities. We will be happy to discuss any learning or communication needs you might have and will be able to provide interpreters if needed. Please do get in touch with us if there’s anything specific you’d like to discuss.

Who will decide who gets this role? 

A team comprising a member of the sponsor organisation, the YACVic Participation and Development Coordinator and a YACVic young member/previous Young Thinker will make the final decision together with guidance from the YACVic Policy Manager.

How is the decision made? 

Once the application period has closed we will review all applications to make a shortlist of those to interview based on the shortlist criteria provided. Following the interviews and successful reference checks the preferred candidate will be offered the role.

Will I get to work with other young people/Young Thinkers? 

You will be encouraged to consult with other young people for your research. You'll also get the opportunity to connect with other YACVic Young Thinkers working on similar projects. We will also introduce you to the Young Thinkers Alumni. 

Am I qualified to do this? 

We encourage anyone with a passionate idea to apply for this role, regardless of their education and experience. There aren’t any qualification or education requirements to apply and we see lived experience as a more suitable qualification for this role than work or educational experience. One of the key aims of this program is to highlight the voice of those not traditionally heard within policy and advocacy and so we aren’t necessarily looking for people with heaps of previous leadership/advocacy experience.

What is ‘lived experience?’

Lived experience is a phrase used to describe someone who has direct experience of something either because they have been personally affected by the issue, cared for someone who has been affected, and/or been touched by the issue in another way. For example someone who has lived in Out-of-home Care may describe themselves as having a lived experience of Out-of-home Care. It is used to differentiate between those with academic or work experience of something but may not have direct life experience.  Elevating the voice of those with direct experiences of the social policy change they wish to make is a key aspect of this program.

What can I work on? 

We invite you to dream big but also think about the practicalities of your project! You are passionate about the subject and it should relate to other young people.

Is there anything I can’t do or should avoid? 

If you wish to explore any topics that would require you to do any direct work with vulnerable children (e.g. those under 18 living in out-of-home care) we encourage you to contact us to discuss the idea prior to application. This is because the process of gaining ethical clearance for studies such as this is likely to be prohibitive in the time frame. We will not consider any proposals that may cause any physical or emotional harm to children, young people or adults. If you have any questions then please let us know.

Any advice around applying for this? 

The best projects are ones that you are passionate about! So we want to see that in your application. When you're writing the application ask yourself:

  • What are the issues that are arising for you that you would like to impact and how might you go about doing that as a Young Thinker?
  • What is the question you’re hoping your work will answer? What is the change you’d like your work to make?
  • Are there other people you may need to seek some advice from such as other young people, youth workers, family etc. before you submit an application or maybe you’re ready and this will form the start of your project plan?

Feel free to get in touch to discuss the role or your ideas further!

I’m not a YACVic member, can I still apply?

 Yes, however the opportunity is a key part of our youth participation strategy for YACVic young members. So if you’re not currently a YACVic member, why not sign up now? There are heaps of benefits and its great value at just $3 for a whole year ($5 for two years).

I’m keen, are you currently recruiting?

Head to the Are you 12 to 25? page on our website to find out.

FAQs for workers and organisations

How should I support someone to apply for a position?

Have a chat with them and check they meet the application criteria and their idea fits with any topic guidelines for the role (these will be clearly stated near the start of the PD). Make sure they have capacity in their life to commit to the role. You may want to help them think through their ideas in more detail and the impact of the role itself, does this align with other goals they have and do you think they’ll benefit from the position? If completing the application/online form will pose challenges you could encourage them to apply by video.

What are they expected to create as a result of their thinking?

Young Thinkers are free to design and deliver a project of their choosing, but the topic guidelines should steer the focus of their work. We have no expectations about the physical product of their thinking and are keen to support the Young Thinker to be creative and push themselves to create something exciting and unique. All we ask is that there is something for us to continue our advocacy on their issue once the program has finished.

What are the goals of the program?

The main goal of the program is to support the voice of young people in conversations and policy development about issues that affect them. It is our key youth participation opportunity and we put a lot of our resources in to making sure they have a positive experience and create a quality piece of advocacy of their choosing having made new networks and built new skills along the way. We will look for ways to continue our support and advocacy of their work beyond the term of their placement with us and we ask for those who we work in partnership with to do the same. Another goal of the program is to work in partnership with other organisations so that our joint support can both positively benefit the young person and the piece of advocacy they create as a result of the role.

How do I get a Young Thinker in my organisation? 

We have found that working in partnership is one of the most exciting aspects of the program. We are now looking to identify potential partners for 2019. Partner organisations sponsor the program and cover the costs of the Young Thinker’s wage, project costs and YACVic’s coordination. If you’re interested in finding out more about sponsorship please contact Sam Champion, YACVic Participation & Development Coordinator on 0438 072 200 or at pdc@yacvic.org.au.

What does YACVic do for the Young Thinker and what does the sponsor organisation do?

The whole team at YACVic support the Young Thinker to feel part of the organisation and the Young Thinker is connected directly with the staff best placed to benefit their work.  Our Participation & Development Coordinator oversees the project and works closely with the Policy Manager to make sure the Young Thinker is connected with all the right people and organisations across the sector. The sponsor organisation needs to be open to committing to YACVic’s vision and goals for the program. They need to have someone to coordinate the project and help the Young Thinker to navigate their organisation and connect them to the right people and services to support their work. The sponsor organisation also helps to define the topic guidelines and overarching themes for the Young Thinker to work on.

What if we want to support the initiative without being a sponsor?

Great! We want the Young Thinkers to be connected with the people who can help them get the best results from their work and so if you think you have some skills, expertise or influence that could help our Young Thinkers then let us know!