I have been speaking to a lot of youth workers in the slow grind to the end of the year and it seems we are all losing motivation. It is always a tough grind to the end of the year however this year seems to have upped the ante. Many youth workers we speak to have lost their jobs, their programs have been de-funded and as a sector we are really feeling the pinch. Organisations are taking the brunt of this major transition as they try to meet KPI’s before years end with minimal staff. As usual young people luck out.
A few organisations we work with have been able to buck this trend a little. Their staff, even though losing their jobs, have been professional to the end. Organising other supports where possible and opportunities for their young people to continue to become more amazing. These youth workers have put their own career opportunities as a second priority to the needs of their young people. Their organisations and senior management have supported their staff admirably. They have provided vocational counselling, Employee Assistance Programs and one on one support so that their staff can get through this time as best as possible.
Motivation is low in the youth sector. Its a tough time for organisations, youth workers and young people alike. However our motivation as youth work professionals is not a condition of how well we support our young people. As professionals we must serve our clients to the best of our ability even when our motivation is low. I was speaking to a group of youth work students who are also feeling this low motivation. They feel like the work they have done to gain their qualification is all for nought because of the issues facing the sector. As such their motivation has taken a beating.
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With longevity in the field comes wisdom about these changes. Around every ten years or so the social services sector in Australia gets hit with budget cuts. We lose our funding and then over the next couple of years we have wilderness experiences until Government realises that they actually need to support young people. If our motivation is linked to funding we will always have ‘I can’t be stuffed moments’. If our motivation is linked to our own intrinsic values then these temporary setbacks for our profession will leave little mark.