On more than one occasion across the last decade, we have lamented the voluntary youth sector’s increasing loss of its vital autonomy, its collusion with neoliberal government diktat and its increasingly corporate outlook. This slide into incorporation continues to be expressed in mergers and takeovers. Just a year ago we noted, ‘Once there were many, now but one? UK Youth and Ambition merge’. It’s worth remembering too that the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services [NCVYS] once the proudly independent voice of the voluntary youth sector was consigned to the historical waste-bin as part of this process. This week CYPN reports that ‘Youth sector organisations announce merger.’ In this case, it is the new kids on the block, the Centre for Youth Impact and Project Oracle, who have been thrust together, their futures in jeopardy. CYPN comments, “it is the latest in a long line of mergers in the youth sector in recent years. In January it was announced that youth mental health charities Place2Be and The Art Room would integrate services”.
Of course staying alive, well and critical in the present climate is no easy matter. Down in Australia our friends at Youth Affairs Network Queensland [YANQ] reveal their dilemmas in the latest newsletter.
Queensland Government continues its approach to silencing advocacy
It is now over five years since Queensland Government cut operational funding of Youth Affairs Network of Queensland (YANQ). As the peak body representing over 580 individuals and organisations from across the state and with over 30 years history since the youth sector came together and established its peak body, YANQ remains the main advocacy organisation for youth sector in Queensland.
Although it was the LNP/ Newman Government, during its slash and burn reign, that initially defunded YANQ, the ALP since regaining government has only made promises of reinstating YANQ’s funding which are still to be materialised. In the past two years the Government has provided $50k per year to YANQ as interim funding but despite lodging a number of proposals to the Government YANQ still struggles to appropriately fulfil all its peak body role in supporting the youth sector and representing the sector at policy and advocacy level without receiving full operational funding.
The only reason we can think of as to why the Government is not reinstating YANQ’s funding is our outspoken and uncompromising advocacy on youth issues. As many of you be aware, YANQ has a strong value base from which we operate. This value base underpins everything we say and do. We simply cannot compromise the well-being of marginalised young people and for the sake of receiving funding and getting a seat around the table, become silent or accept the injustices that are inflicted on our children and young people.
The role of a peak body in a healthy democracy is not to be an extended arm of the government (as some peaks have unfortunately become). Rather the role of a peak body is to provide critique of policies and programs which Governments have. This critique is based on the information gathered through membership which works in various capacity with young people day in and day out. The collective knowledge of YANQ members runs into thousands of years. It is short sited of a Government to not tap into this knowledge and mistake criticism for being adversarial.
Read more at Queensland Youth Sector News