Queensland Youth Affairs Conference 2014 – What to Expect

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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.

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