A plan to put youth workers where they're most needed
The Victorian Government should develop a cross-sector youth work strategy to improve outcomes for young people, especially those facing serious disadvantage. This should be designed in collaboration with local governments, health and community services and Victoria Police and include:
- Employing an additional 50 youth workers for ‘high-need’ groups or locations, based on needs-analyses, priority issues and differing geographical costs of service delivery.
- A funding pool for rural local councils to employ youth workers, ensuring at least one appropriately trained youth worker operates in each Victorian shire.
- Increased access to specialist youth workers in the fields of mental health, homelessness, and alcohol and other drug support, for communities experiencing high levels of need and barriers to accessing services. These communities should include outer metropolitan ‘growth’ areas and rural and regional areas.
- Appropriately trained youth workers operating from the launch sites of Victoria’s Support and Safety Hubs, in recognition of the vulnerability of, and historic lack of specialist support for, young people affected by family violence.
A new initiative to recruit, train and employ youth workers from diverse communities
The Victorian Government should sponsor a new initiative to recruit, train and employ diverse youth workers, focused on communities where young people experience high levels of disadvantage, exclusion or crime.
- Prioritise recruitment of youth workers from those communities most affected, including Aboriginal, refugee and migrant communities, and in rural and regional Victoria
- Launch a new Bachelor level youth work scholarship program for 25 youth workers from priority communities, plus cadetship or mentoring opportunities for early-career youth workers from priority communities.
- Invest in a cultural competence program for all youth workers around the state, designed in collaboration with local communities, the Centre for Multicultural Youth and the Koorie Youth Council.
More youth workers to help address our state’s priority issues
The Victorian Government should work with local government and other youth (and allied) services to:
- commit to ensuring that youth work is offered as a free TAFE course in Victoria.
- increase the number of youth workers in Victorian schools and flexible learning providers, with a focus on mental health and wellbeing support and preventing young people from leaving education early,
- create a state-wide youth employment plan, which:
- engages young people and their communities in local discussions about the future of work,
- employs youth workers to assist young people to find, maintain or create employment, including via social enterprises and employer mentoring programs,
- further develop and strengthen programs that divert young people from crime, help them form positive relationships with Victoria Police, and rehabilitate young people who have offended. As a starting point, this should include ongoing funding for the Youth Referral and Independent Persons Program (YRIPP) and youth work-led mentoring and social cohesion programs.