For anyone who missed the National Youth Conference recently hosted by the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition in Sydney it was a fantastic opportunity to reflect on what is and isn’t working in our current ‘youth work’ practise. I really struggle with this idea of ‘youth work’ as being focused on young people who are disengaged and having trouble and this is something I reflected on a lot over the 3 days of the conference. To me working with young people is grounded in providing opportunities for all young people to achieve their full potential and although stretched resources certainly need to be prioritised I believe our vision needs to be bigger and needs to encapsulate what we want for ALL young people.
My vision for young people?
That young people not only experience being young as a joyful and exciting transition into becoming healthy, resilient and connected adults but also have the opportunity to experience ‘youth’ as a unique and important life stage in and of itself. A time to grow, explore, learn, experience, fail & love. That young people are supported and valued by their communities as sources of inspiration, insight and catalysts for growth.
I also had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Thomas Banks whilst at the conference, you should buy his book and read it. Tom was an amazing ‘speaker’ who invited us into his everyday life and shared his inner thoughts. I was brought to tears during Tom’s presentation…. which was a little unfortunate as I was presenting directly after him so I was a bit emotional during my own presentation!
Here’s a copy of the powerpoint from my presentation – Participation: More than just being in the room.
I must also say a HUGE thankyou to the South Australian Office for Youth who supported my attendance at the conference with a full bursary. With most of my work contributed in-kind I simply would not had the financial capacity to attend without OfY’s support.
To get a feel for some of what the conference offered take a peek at the twitter hastag #ayac2011!