Youth work is the practice of providing formal and informal support, education and assistance to young people in need. Youth workers aim to promote the personal and social development of young people so as to give them a voice in their communities. Youth workers operate in diverse roles including, but not limited to, the following:
- Identifying general areas of concern for young people and raising relevant issues with government authorities
- Aiding in the development of youth specific policies
- Offering assistance and advice to young people experiencing family problems, unemployment, illness, drug abuse,homelessness or general adversity
- Organising or providing informed counselling
- Undertaking risk assessment for young people who have been or potentially could be the victims of domestic violence, child abuse or sexual abuse
- Referring young people to appropriate specialists or community organisations
- Inform young people about available community services and resources.
- Case management and support
Youth workers exist in the space created by young people’s exclusion from full involvement in community decision making. Youth work practice is predicated on the relationship with the young person as the primary client, expressed through a commitment to advocacy and healing in their work with the young person and the wider society.
Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies
The Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies has a 3 part series titled Doing Youth Work in Australia designed specifically for Australian youth workers and students of youth work courses.
For more information visit Australia Clearinghouse for Youth Studies
Becoming a youth worker
Edith Cowan University
Edith Cowan University offers a 3 year Bachelor of Social Science (Youth Work) degree at their Joondalup campus.
TAFE WA offers a Certificate III, Certificate IV and a Diploma of Youth Work at many campuses around Western Australia.
Youth work code of ethics
The YACWA and Western Australian Association of Youth Workers Youth Work Code of Ethics outlines a set of youth work principles and practice responsibilities for youth workers, identified through consultation with the youth sector. The Code also includes very useful case scenarios developed by youth workers to illustrate some of the finer points of each principle when translated into practice.
The Code of Ethics provides interesting, useful, and relevant to current and future practitioners with young people, particularly for those who identify as youth workers. Our consultation revealed that while youth work was regulated by structural, legal and ethical frameworks there was yet to be developed a code that unified them all. Our code was formulated on the back of extensive consultation, research and youth sector evaluation and is a reputable and accurate point of reference for all individuals, youth workers and youth work organisations interested in best practice ethical youth work.
You may also be interested in the YACWA/WAAYW Code of Ethics Review