Child Protection is a contentious issue in Australia and indeed around the world. late last year the debate around the effectiveness of the Victorian Child Protection System hit boiling point.
With child deaths being investigated, cases of known Paedophiles having access to children because of DHS procedural inadequacies and reports of child abuse rising many people wayed into the debate.
The Australian Association of Social Workers called for in a media release:
- A Government and Community Sector workforce strategy which includes accreditation of
staff. This will ensure high quality and committed staff work with vulnerable children and
their families in the public and community sector;
- An increased investment in those professionals working with children and their families,
including measures to increase the training and recruitment of high quality staff into child
protection services and industry plans to retain experienced professionals in the sector;
Along with many of my fellow Child Protection colleagues we believe that a well trained and invested in workforce would be a really great start. In Victoria around 200 position will be funded to “fiil the gaps” in the Child Protection system, however as these 200 come into the sector the statistics would say at least that number will leave.
What would it take to retain Child Protection staff for the long term? What does youth work training have to offer this collegiate?
I was speaking to a group of youth work educators this week when the question of professionalising came up. I was interested to hear their perspectives on the current situation in Victoria.
Some of the issues that were brought up included:
- Why diploma and certificate four students would not be able to have full membership when in the field their work is generally the same as that of degree qualified workers.
- How a committee looking at professionalising can have good governance and oversight if they only have a select few people invested in the development of an association.
- That there has not been a thorough sector consultaton, particularly in rural settings; and
- That many students at certificate four and diploma level feel they are being left out of the discussion
Is it best practice to not involve the entire sector in the development of a “Professional Assocciation?”.
Western Australia had many issues in the inception of its professional association that Victoria seems destined to repeat. The sad fact is that not everybody will be happy if a professional association of Victoran youth workers is set up. However, Victoria’s committee should take a page out of WA’s book and consult the sector more widely and network more strongly so as to have more support for an association.
New Zealand spent a much longer time consulting and trialing the ideas of professionalising. To date it is working well. Maybe a longer and more thorough consultation is required.
Visit www.redcross.org.au/aftertheemergency to see stories from teenagers who’ve been through emergencies, share your own story, find information about trauma recovery and get music and messages of support from Aussie artists like Lisa Mitchell and Bluejuice.
The Office for Youth has published Investing in Australia’s young people: A stocktake of Australian Government initiatives for young people. This 251-page report is a detailed listing of the ‘programs, services, payments and policies’ available to Australia’s 3.5 million young people aged 12–25.
Large- and small-sale programs ‘to support young Australians to maximise their educational opportunities and participate productively in the workforce’ are listed. They range from petrol-sniffing prevention programs in remote areas of Australia to the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative to the Community Street Soccer program. Those who work with youth, young people themselves, policymakers and the wider community will find the report a useful resource.
The report is divided into three parts.
Part 1 contains an introduction and methodology.
Part 2 outlines the Australian Government’s role as it relates to young people. It contains a comprehensive description of each ministerial portfolio’s role in youth affairs.
Part 3 contains the listings of activities and services; it is divided into six headings: Expressing yourself, having fun and being active; Family, community and communication; Health, wellbeing and development; Pathways, work and money; Learning and skills development; and A productive and sustainable Australia.
The report can be viewed at the following link:
Youth work in Australia has changed a lot in the ten years I have been involved in it.
As a collegiate we are at a cross roads. Should we follow the path that our fellow workers from WA have taken and professionalise? Should our training become more specialist? Are THEY right when THEY say youth workers just drink coffee and play pool with young people but have no real use? It is tough being a youth worker today.
This blog will track the changes that are happening across Australia and keep youth workers up to date with news and event as they come.
I hope you join me on the Journey.