The Jasper Declaration

The Jasper Declaration articulated a philosophy to underpin youth work. This statement was accepted at the first National Youth Workers Conference in 1977. The Declaration was put together by a group of eight people over dinner at Jaspers Restaurant in Adelaide.

The Jasper Declaration

We confess that as youth workers we fail to act as initiators of social change and in effect we are just reactors to circumstances dealing with ‘bandaid’ situations that often just help in preserving the status quo structures.

We confess that we are content to deal solely with the casualties rather than delving deeply into the cause of those casualties.

We confess that we disregard the enormous limitations imposed on youth and often attempt to make youth content with their basic life situation, ignoring the conflicts which clearly exist by distracting them with some well-chosen structured spare time activities.

We seek a commitment to a new direction in the philosophy of youth work. We will no longer be content to offer programs which merely gratify immediate wants. We are concerned for the fulfilment of individuals over a total life span. We recognise that our commitment to this philosophy will operate within a local context. This localised process will involve facilitating:

– people to become aware of themselves and others in the community;

– people to engage in human transactions with others;

– people to think through issues (consciousness raising);

– people to conceive contradictions, the level of manipulation and limitations of their local area, and the scope of their power and the possibility for change.

The implications of this are:

– that the changing of attitudes is more important than exclusively providing leisure pursuits;

– that the process of ‘bandaiding’ will be challenged because it is perpetuating the present system and aiding its preservation;

– that such a model will bring us into conflict with the existing structure of social and often the underlying philosophies of many of the youth organisations/agencies to which we belong;

– that such conflict will involve risks and we must be prepared for the type of commitment that may involve costs in terms of economics, position, reputation, time, relationships, etc;

– that there will be for us disturbing confrontation with many ethical problems and questions; this confrontation will be particularly great in terms of our degree of compromise and participation in the operation of the system.

What we have experienced through this conference is this process in operation.

Adelaide 1977