Queensland Youth Affairs Conference 2014 – What to Expect


A taste of what to expect at this years conference…

“I feel like we’ve become our target group and not used to actually thinking about what we as a sector really want or need… we’ve become too driven over the past decade by imposed methods, funding arrangements, etc. It feels like we’ve got no voice and even if we did we are no longer used to using it.” 

– Qld Metropolitan Youth Worker, 2012 What is Youth Work? Consultations)


Alarmed by the cuts to youth welfare and services announced in the Federal Budget? Already feeling the pinch from restrictive funding arrangements? Hampered by one-size-fits-all data bases which don’t enable you to document a lot of the “real” work underpinning successful youth work? Unable to enter into genuine dialogue with other workers because you’re all going for the same meagre funding which is available for youth services? Driven by outcomes and targets set by external or seemingly arbitrary measures rather than driven by young people’s rights, needs and circumstances?

YANQ believes Youth Work as we know it – a youth-centered, voluntary, vibrant, innovative, flexible, rights based practice – is now in serious danger of extinction. And not only in Queensland but across Australia and internationally, including the UK. The voluntary nature of our relationship with young people has been under threat for some time, with the majority of programs now having conditions attached which essentially force young people and youth workers into mandated relationships (e.g. school attendance or work readiness programs, programs for children and young people in care, diversionary programs, etc). The aims of some of these programs might be great: improved levels of education, learning more life skills, finding employment … However, forcing young people to participate in programs or services goes against the very essence of the Youth Work Definition developed after extensive consultation with Queensland Youth Workers and adopted by YANQ members in 2013.

YANQ warmly invites any workers who are concerned about the ongoing drift from rights based, youth-centered practice and the increasing focus on “outcomes based funding” to our State Youth Affairs Conference, 21 – 22 Aug. There is much we can learn from the UK experience as well as those services still operating according to tried and true principles of youth work and providing “innovative” programs in an increasingly difficult environment, a number of which will be presenting at the Conference.

Come along, get reinvigorated, get yarning with others and lets reclaim youth work as the passionate, diverse, “never-a-dull-moment” sector it can be, keeping young people’s rights and circumstances forefront in our intentions and actions. Let’s value, share and continually refine those tools, models and strategies young people continually tell or show us work best for them.


Tony Taylor, Coordinator of the IDYW  Campaign has been invited to be the keynote speaker at the Queensland Youth Affairs conference to be held in Brisbane, August 20/21, 2014. This invitation is a tribute to the impact of our Campaign, to the efforts of our supporters, over the last five years. It illustrates that, whilst our perspective is derided as out-of-date by those infatuated in the UK with targets and outcomes, the opposite is true. Our desire to defend youth work as a distinctive practice resonates with workers, researchers and academics across the globe – in Europe, in the United States and, clearly, Australia.



In the coming weeks we will post a number of the conference ‘call-outs’ being produced by the organisers at the Youth Affairs Network Queensland. These will be invaluable in illuminating our understanding of the Australian scene, in underlining that we face a common enemy, even if that foe appears in many different guises.

Queer Futures – national study into self-harm and suicide

queer futures

Queer Futures is a national study investigating the self-harm and suicide of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning [LGBTQ] youth.

Are you:

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning or unsure?
  • 16-25 years old?
  • Have experience of self harming or suicidal feelings?
  • Living in the U.K.?
  • Able to read and write English?
  • Able to access the internet?

If this sounds like you, then we want to hear from you!

We are currently looking for participants to take part in interviews (either anonymous online interviews via email or face to face interviews in person) and will soon be asking young people to complete our national survey (around January 2015).


Queer Futures – the web site for more details

Social Work At The Crossroads? Child Protection Outsourced!

A group of us were pleased to contribute to the recent Social Work Action Network’s 10th Annual Conference in Durham. We did so from the platform in one of the plenaries and through running a workshop, owing a great deal to the hard work of Anne Marron in the conference’s planning group. Our contribution was complemented by the creative efforts of the young people’s group, Utter Legends from the North-East. If anything there was just too much to take in at the conference, given the number and diversity of the choices on offer. However, running through the conference we could touch an overwhelming concern about the future of social work, paralleling our fears about the future of youth work.

This anxiety is caught in Terry Murphy’s eloquent piece,

Creeping privatisation leaves social work fighting for its soul,

which concludes,

Two politically and culturally diametrically opposed groups offer us two very different visions of the future of social work: social work as a modern profit-orientated business, or as a community-involved, democratically controlled public service. The tension between these two different models is stretching the former liberal consensus of the profession to breaking point.

Meanwhile the Coalition’s fetishism of the private knows no bounds, expressed in the following move.

Privatise child protection services, Department for Education proposes

Angry responses abound.

Professor Eileen Munro, whom Gove commissioned to carry out an independent review of child protection published in 2011, said establishing a market in child protection would create perverse incentives for private companies to either take more children into care or leave too many languishing with dangerous families.

Children England

The charity, Children England, has instigated a 38 Degrees campaign, Keep Profit out of Child Protection

Our campaign is committed to opposing the privatisation of all services, which support  ‘the common good’. We urge supporters to sign and spread the word.


On the Road to a Second Book on Youth Work and Story-Telling



As supporters will know we are in the midst of exploring a possible second book on the relationship between Youth Work, Story-Telling and Communicating the Contradictions of a Distinctive Practice. To keep you in the picture find below the latest notes provided by Bernard Davies, who is coordinating the Project. To give you a flavour here is an outline of possible sections of the book.


  1. Book sections
    • Where appropriate/possible:
      • to include story-telling case material to illustrate process etc;
      • to top and/or tail sections with a youth work story/stories relevant to the section;
      • to clarify the relationship between, and/or the interweaving of, the actual story-telling and the interrogation;
    • Draft material to be finalised:
      • Story-telling as research
      • Workshop with young volunteers
      • Story-telling: Working with students in HE
      • Story-telling in a youth organisation
      • Story-telling with youth work participants
      • Youth work story-telling and its facilitation
      • First-time story-telling facilitation
    • Other areas (hopefully!) to be covered
      • A facilitator’s critical log/reflection of their facilitation.
      • Story-telling as a part of project evaluation
      • Story-telling as part of team development
      • Story-telling as part of organisational development
      • Story-telling within non-youth work settings
      • Using drama as/within story-telling
      • Use of story-telling in another country from young person’s and worker’s perspectives

Read in full – STORY BOOK 2 Notes


YOUTH & POLICY 112 hits the streets with a fascinating mix of pieces


youth and policy

Our friends at Youth & Policy are having a bit of a hiccup with their site, so it’s our pleasure to post in the interim a pdf of the latest issue here.

Youth & Policy 112 April 2014

Youth and Policy 112 contains a fascinating mix, including a lively disagreement between Simon Hallsworth and John Pitts on ‘gang denial’. At this moment I’ve still much to read, including the welcome articles from Scandinavia, but can recommend – not just because they are supporters of IDYW! – Jon Ord’s critique of today’s imposition of simplistic measures of accountability upon youth work, together with Janet Batsleer’s passionate espousal of the cooperative rather than the military ethos favoured by such as Gove and Bernard Davies’s warning about the loss of independence being suffered by the voluntary sector. Looking forward to reading the rest in due course.


Building capacity in youth work: Perspectives and practice in
youth clubs in Finland and Sweden
How do detached youth workers spend their time? Considerations
from a time study in Gothenburg, Sweden
Gang talking criminologists: A rejoinder to John Pitts
Enclavisation and Identity in Refugee Youth Work
Aristotle’s Phronesis and Youth Work: Beyond Instrumentality
Attachment, adolescent girls and technology: a new marriage of
ideas and implications for youth work practice
Thinking Space:
[1] The Value of Youth Services towards Child and Adolescent mental health
[2] Youth Work and the ‘Military Ethos’
[3] Racism as Islamaphobia
Review article:
Independence at risk: the state, the market and the voluntary youth

Noam Chomsky and the Public Intellectual in Turbulent Times



An informative and issue-raising overview of the contribution of Noam Chomsky to the struggle for social justice.

According to Henry Giroux, the author of the piece,

Chomsky is fiercely critical of fashionable conservative and liberal attempts to divorce intellectual activities from politics and is quite frank in his notion that education both in and out of institutional schooling should be involved in the practice of freedom and not just the pursuit of truth. He has strongly argued that educators, artists, journalists and other intellectuals have a responsibility to provide students and the wider public with the knowledge and skills they need to be able to learn how to think rigorously, be self-reflective, and to develop the capacity to govern rather than be governed. But for Chomsky it is not enough to learn how to think critically. Engaged intellectuals must also develop an ethical imagination and sense of social responsibility necessary to make power accountable and to deepen the possibilities for everyone to live a life infused with freedom, liberty, decency, dignity and justice.

I do not think it is pretentious, indeed it is necessary in these conformist times, to ask ourselves if we deserve to be seen as critically-minded educators, as engaged public intellectuals committed to the struggle for freedom, democracy and justice?

Noam Chomsky and the Public Intellectual in Turbulent Times.

Thanks to Neal Terry for pointing out that Chomsky is giving a lecture in Durham  next week. These lectures are videoed and made available on the Durham Castle Lectures site

22 May 2014

Professor Noam Chomsky

“Surviving the 21stCentury”

Can human beings survive the 21st Century without a major setback? Professor Noam Chomsky will address this question of global significance in this special Durham Castle Lecture.