Youthworx Media is about transforming lives, helping young people to find meaningful and productive places in our community. The project began with an incipient critique of education and training options for young people with complex needs, particularly young people who have experienced homeless. Also, the policy responses to youth homeless emphasised accommodation and support, or more recently early intervention but little attention had been given to working on the higher levels of the Maslow hierarchy.
Small group trials in 2000-2003 were very encouraging in terms of engagement and participation and follow-on outcomes in terms of further involvement in education and training. One participant won a national Youth Media Award for work done in a Youthworx Media trial.
A partnership was forged in the early days with the aspirant youth radio station SYN and a lot of support was given to assist the SYN team to win the community radio licence and gain funding for the first year of broadcasting.
Three years of Youthworx Media pilot funding was obtained from The Salvation Army from 2006-2008 and in 2006, the project gained a large associate grant from the ARC for research on Youthworx Media. High quality facilities were built in an old sewing machine factory in Tinning Street, Brunswick and 2008 saw the first full year of operations commence.
Youthworx Media is a project of Youth Development Australia, a public benevolent institution created by a group of leading thinkers and practitioners as a platform for change and a way of exploring, developing and trialling innovative youth initiatives.
SUPPORT THAT GOES ALL THE WAY
Youth workers provide direct support, mentoring, guidance, and when appropriate professional case management and associated administration to young people who are part the Youthworx Media program.
Youth Development Australia is established in the tradition of “positive youth development theory”, a youth service practice movement that works with young people from a space that draws on the strengths rather that from a deficit position that emphasizes a young person’s barriers to full participation and personal growth. Youth development theory asserts that by working with young people to promote positive goals a youth worker or youth service gives young people the opportunity, skills and motivation to adopt healthy life-styles and age appropriate goals.
The Youthworx Media program provides education, training or employment outcomes, as a means of assisting young people to develop pathways to a successful adulthood. Participation in training, or indeed the processes of alternative education are not ends in themselves for our program. Digital media, music production and radio production is highly attractive to many disengaged young people and provides an opportunity for re-engagement in a positive transformative process. Young people remain in our program over a number of semesters and sometimes years achieving progress in skill development and personal growth.
In summary, Youthworx Media is first and foremost a program designed to achieve tangible outcomes for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We are attempting to do this through a means that emphasizes the possibilities for these young people rather than their barriers to participation fully in society. Therefore our youth support is broad and takes a highly “youth centered approach” using a “whatever it takes” model of youth work to link resources that are already provided for these young people or to work to find resources to fill the gaps and to work to make all of the supports available more effective.
ACCREDITED TRAINING MODEL
Youthworx Media is a three way relationship between a training provider or TAFE; Industry professionals who provide mentoring and make sure we deliver on a program that leads to job opportunities; and professional youth workers who provide support that goes the full distance.
- Heading to work – the program begins with opportunities for short experiences that involve little commitment through to an accredited training program and work experience/job opportunity
- Accredited Training – the activities are organised within a certificate I, II and III framework.
- Getting the system to work for young people – collaboration between Youth Development Australia, Brunswick Youth Services, SYN and TAFE, as well as other homeless and youth agencies and Swinburne University.
- Getting ready for life – by working in close association with the youth radio station, TAFE colleges, and industry mentors, highly disadvantaged young people can be supported to participate with a much broader cohort of young people.
- Getting Excited – most young people offered an opportunity to participate in activities they find interesting and exciting. We sneak up on young people who are getting formal qualifications during a fairly chaotic life stage.
- Being Responsible – wherever possible young people are encouraged to take responsibility and participate in decision-making.
- Start Learning – the activities take place in a semi-structured environment outside of formal school or TAFE settings. We teach using project based learning rather then classroom based theory. Students can immediately see the link to the 'real' world.
- Only do what works – Research and development is central to our work. The development of Youthworx Media is being researched under Australian Research Council (ARC) funding via the Centre for Creative Industries (CCI) and researchers from Swinburne University are conducting a long-term research program linked to Youthworx Media.