Podcast 040: Supervision


In todays episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast “Supervision” Aaron speaks to us about the need for youth workers to have good professional supervision. As an industry that claims professional status it is ludicrous that mot of our members do not receive a minimum of monthly professional supervision..


In, the AYAC National Youth Work Snapshot 2013, a survey of youth workers showed that 8.4% of surveyed youth workers had never had a supervision session and around 51.7% receive it less than once every three months. As an industry that claims professional status this is appalling. It is no wonder that the sector in Australia turns over staff at 23% every year. Supervision is important to staff retention.

The best supervisors I have had came from both ends of the qualification spectrum. One was a qualified Social Worker with over a decade of experience who regularly attended courses on supervision. The other was a Youth Worker who had no qualifications but was an avid reader of supervision texts and attended every professional development opportunity focused on supervision. The skill set that both of these supervisors had in common was an eager appetite to better their own practice as supervisors and a great ability to listen and reflect. The styles they used were different, the theoretical focus wide and varied and the outcomes specific to the needs of myself and my clients.

Maidment & Beddoe (2012) believe that supervision must be placed at the core of professional development for staff, “We want to place supervision at the heart of professional development, which is career-long and where, via diverse learning activities, practitioners refine and augment their knowledge, develop skills, and undertake supervision to enhance critically reflective practice”.

The largest cause of burnout within our sector is that of psychological distress with around 23% of work cover claims. Using supervision sessions in the format above creates an opportunity for minimising the distress and maximising longevity in the field. Supervision provides a conduit for communication on specific issues relating to the causes of youth worker burnout. It asks us to be open and responsive to the issues while learning and developing our skills.

But why should youth workers have supervision in the first place???

The short answer is supervision gives us time to reflect and develop our skills to become the best we can be!

The longer answer is as people who are professionals we are required to critically reflect on the work we do through a lens of evidence and research. To do this we need to be held accountable by other practitioners in our field with more experience. The process of professionalisation has changed youth work into an industry which abides by this ethos and expects staff to be held accountable for their work.

What should supervision look like?

We use a model based on the work of Alfred Kadushin where there are at least three distinct spheres to supervision that need to be addressed in each session for effectiveness: understanding the field of practice and how it applies to your tasks, personal support and affect regulation, and the administrative elements to your work within your organisation. As an external supervisor we add the element of professional skills development to this as well.

Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast:

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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