The Department of Communities is developing a new youth strategy for Western Australia.
The strategy will be developed following consultation with young people, youth service providers and government agencies.
Below is the department's youth strategy from 2012 - 2017.
'Our Youth—Our Future' is the Western Australian Government's commitment to young people. For the first time, a whole of government structured framework has been developed to guide youth programs and service planning in an integrated way into the future.
'Our Youth—Our Future' also recognises existing strategic approaches for providing services and programs to young people and the importance of government working in partnership with the non-government sector to support young people.
'Our Youth—Our Future' is a commitment to build opportunities for young people and provide support to achieve their goals and reach their full potential. It is also a commitment to acknowledge and respect all young people.
This framework appreciates that young people are not all the same and that they have different needs and aspirations. It recognises that while most young people are doing well all or most of the time, there are some who experience complex challenges or who are vulnerable and at risk.
Through 'Our Youth—Our Future', state government agencies will work together with community groups and young people and their families and carers to:
- encourage young people to participate in and contribute to all aspects of community life, including through sport, recreation, culture and the arts, volunteering and involvement with decision making
- provide opportunities for young people to learn, find jobs into the future and develop life skills to help them get to where they want to be
- promote and/or create environments and accessible options for young people to connect with programs and services that best meet their needs, keep them well and promote lifelong healthy lifestyles.
Our investment today in skills development, improving health outcomes, encouraging and supporting participation in the community and building the confidence and resilience of young people will have a long and lasting effect on the future shape and strength of the Western Australian community.
'Our Youth—Our Future' was developed in collaboration with 14 state government agencies, led by the Department of Local Government and Communities. DLGC initiated this work to highlight the diversity of young people and to enhance partnerships between agencies to support all young people and respond to their diverse needs. The following strategic documents contributed to the development of 'Our Youth—Our Future'.
- Progressing Classroom First (Education)
- Creating Value: An arts and culture sector policy framework 2010-2014 (Culture and the Arts)
- Young People Strategic and the Arts Action Plan 2011-2012 (Culture and the Arts)
- Active Living for All – A Framework for Physical Activity in Western Australia 2012-2016 (Sport and Recreation)
- SD5: Strategic Directions for the Western Australian Sport and Recreation Industry (Sport and Recreation)
- National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions (Training and Workforce Development)
- Training WA 2009-2018 (Training and Workforce Development)
- Skilling WA – a workforce development plan for Western Australia (Training and Workforce Development)
- Crime Prevention Strategy 2011-2014 (WA Police)
- Approaches At Risk Youth Strategy 2011-2014: supporting vulnerable youth to reach their potential (Child Protection)
- Drug and Alcohol Interagency Strategic Framework for Western Australia 2011-2015 (Drug and Alcohol Office lead agency)
- WA Youth Justice Framework 2010- 2015 (Corrective Services)
- National Partnership Agreement – Remote Service Delivery (Indigenous Affairs) – Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek and the Dampier Peninsula
- Mental Health 2020: making it personal and everybody's business (Mental Health Commission)
Who are our Western Australian Youth?
- In June 2011, there were 461 091 young people aged between 12 and 25 years living in Western Australia, about 20% of the state's total population. 1
- Western Australia's youth population grew by 10.5% from 2006 to 2010, the highest growth in the youth population in Australia during this period. 2
- By 2030, it is projected that there will be 551 100 young Western Australians, an increase of 20%. 3
- In 2011, 71% of young people in Western Australia aged 15 to 24 were born in Australia. Of the 69 923 (23%) youth born overseas, most were from England, New Zealand, South Africa, Malaysia and China. 6% did not state their birth place. In 2011, 48% of young people born overseas spoke a language other than English. 4
- In 2009–10, 1 344 people migrated under the humanitarian program. Of these, approximately 400 (30%) were young people aged 12 to 24 years. 5
- In 2011, 4.4% of young people aged 15 to 24 years in Western Australia were from Indigenous backgrounds. 6
- In 2011, 35% of the Indigenous population in Western Australia was under 15 years, compared with 19% of the non-Indigenous population. 7
- In 2007, the majority (77%) of young Western Australians aged 15 to 24 years lived in metropolitan Perth. 8
- In 2011, 82% of Western Australian 15 to 24 year olds were fully engaged in education, training and/or employment. 9
- In 2011, three-quarters of young Western Australian school leavers were in full-time education or full-time work. 7.7% were working part-time, 7.4% were seeking work and 9.9% were not in the labour force. 10
- In 2006, 61% of 15 to 24 year olds were employed and 51% of these youth were employed full-time. Nearly 5% were unemployed and looking for work. 11
- In 2010, 92% of young people aged 18 to 24 years in Western Australia reported they were in good or excellent health. 12
- Between 2003 and 2009, the disability rate for 15 to 24 year olds fell from 10.4% to 7.6%. In 2009, 5.4% of young Western Australians aged 15 to 24 years had a core activity restriction or schooling and employment limitation. 13
- In 2009, 6.4% of Western Australians aged 18 to 24 years cared for a person with a disability or an older person. 14
- In 2010, 142 Western Australians aged 15 to 24 years died. The leading causes of death were intentional self-harm and road transport crashes. 15
- Young Australians are more likely to have a mental disorder than older people. In 2007, 26% of 16 to 24 year olds had a mental illness in the preceding 12 months. Young women had higher rates of mental illness than young men (30% compared to 23%). 16
- In 2007–08, 29% of Western Australian 18 to 24-year-olds were overweight, while 13% were obese. 17
- In 2009-10, 49% of young people aged 15 to 24 participated in sport and recreation at least twice a week. 18
- In 2008, 38% of secondary school aged boys and 10% of girls achieved Australia's physical activity recommendation that 12 to 18-year-olds participate in 60 minutes of physical activity daily. 19
- In 2008, 84% of high school students had experimented with alcohol at some time in their lives. 23.6% had consumed alcohol in the past week, with one quarter of these drinking at risky levels. 20
- In 2007, 22% of 14 to 24-year-olds had used cannabis in the past 12 months, while 5.5% had recently used other illicit drugs. 21
- In 2006, 5 342 (1.4%) of young people aged 12 to 24 years in Western Australia were homeless. Young Western Australians aged 12 to 24 comprised 40% of the homeless population. 22
- In June 2011, 1 264 children and young people aged 10 to 17 years in Western Australia were in out-of-home care. 23
- In 2007–08, young Indigenous people accounted for 63% of those under supervision in the juvenile justice system. 24
- In Australia 89% of 15 to 17-year-olds, along with 80% of 18 to 24-year-olds, had access to the internet at home. Most young people used the internet for personal purposes and education or study, with about 70% using the internet every day. 25
- All 15 to 17 year olds and 89% of 18 to 24 year olds in Western Australia attended at least one cultural venue and event in 2009–10. The most popular venues were cinema, popular music concerts and zoos or aquariums. 26
- In 2010, 26% of 18 to 24-year-olds in Western Australia had undertaken voluntary work in the past 12 months. 27
The above are Western Australian statistics unless otherwise stated.
What Do Young People Say?
Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia consultation
The Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia undertook a small-scale consultation about 'Our Youth—Our Future'. Overwhelmingly, the young people consulted felt that a Western Australian Government statement of commitment to youth was essential.
"I think it's important for young people to feel represented by their government and feel included in decisions."
The group acknowledged that many youth services and programs are working well but that improvements in some areas are needed.
"You need to support existing services that are already successful and working."
There was consensus that mental health and wellbeing is the main health issue facing them and their peers. This included concerns around body image. Sexual health was also identified as an area that needed attention.
The young people advised that all young people should be supported to achieve their goals and that they need to be provided with a range of options to succeed in learning, work and future independence. They highlighted the importance of good information about these options. To get the most out of life and make a difference, the group thought that encouraging leadership and independence in young people was important. They suggested that these qualities affect all other areas of young people's lives.
The young people discussed the importance of having supportive environments, including families and peer groups. Programs and services for young people should be provided in a relaxed and casual atmosphere and have qualified staff. They emphasised that places and spaces need to be appealing to young people and also that the internet and social media are important ways for young people to connect with each other and the rest of the community.
"All community facilities need to be welcoming to young people."
Commonwealth Youth Forum 2011 Communiqué (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Perth, 2011)
Young people stated that "In order for the Commonwealth to be relevant and accountable to the needs of its 1.2 billion youth, it is critical that youth directly participate in all levels of decision-making and budget allocation, not only in policy and program design but also in implementation and evaluation".
Delegates at the Youth Forum recommended action and investment in the following areas:
- peace-building and conflict-management
- youth enterprise, information communication technology, sustainable livelihoods and economy
- environmental sustainability
- youth impact and participation in decision making.
Speaking out about wellbeing – the views of Western Australian children and young people
In 2009, the Commissioner for Children and Young People investigated children and young people's views on what was important to their wellbeing. Nearly 1 000 children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years from across Western Australia participated in the research.
Children and young people say a loving, supportive family, good friends, fun and activity, a safe environment, a good education, acknowledgement and trust are essential to living a full life and important to their wellbeing. Aboriginal young people also said that acknowledgement and respect for their culture was important. Their concerns included the impact of alcohol and drugs, bullying and safety in public spaces. For more information on the Commissioner's wellbeing research go to ccyp.wa.gov.au
Mission Australia's National Survey of Young Australians 2011: key and emerging issues
The survey found that family relationships and friendships were most highly valued by young Western Australians. One-third of Western Australian youth said that they valued physical or mental health.
The top three issues of concern for Western Australian young people were school or study problems, coping with stress and family conflict.
Parents and friends were the main sources of advice on young people's issues.
For more information on Mission Australia's survey go to missionaustralia.com.au
Our Youth—Our Future Youth Strategic Framework
This work is guided by across-government frameworks and strategies, and by the strategic plans of individual agencies. The Strategic Approaches graphic in the introduction shows some of the existing strategies most relevant to young people.
Underpinning 'Our Youth—Our Future' is a strong commitment to help young people who are struggling, or where life can provide extra challenges, with programs and services that work well for these young people's particular needs.
The Western Australian Government's commitment to young people is to work in partnership with the community to make a difference in areas that matter most to young people themselves:
- their health, happiness and safety
- their learning, work and future financial independence
- their opportunity to live life to the full
- their desire to make a difference.
'Our Youth—Our Future' lays out the government's vision for young people and a framework for the way state government agencies work together on these areas that matter to young people. The state government does this through a range of initiatives that support family life, through services and programs (in partnership with community organisations) for young people and through developing places and spaces (real and virtual) which are youth friendly and safe.
A bright future where all young Western Australians can participate, contribute, feel connected, be well and be supported to achieve their full potential.
The WA Government's commitment to young people is as follows.
To support and enhance:
Young People and Families
- Respect for young people and recognition of their rights
- Recognition of the role of families,carers and peers in young people's lives
- Information, resources and advice for young people, families and carers
- Additional support for vulnerable young people, families and carers
Services and Programs
- A broad spectrum of universal youth services that are contemporary and responsive
- A range of targeted youth services to support at-risk young people
- Youth friendly services and programs informed by young people
- Recognition of the diverse nature and needs of young people
- Innovation in the use of information and communication technology to effectively reach young people
Places and Spaces
- Well planned and accessible communities
- Welcoming and inclusive areas for young people
- Youth friendly venues and facilities
- Use of the internet and social media for young people to connect with each other and their communities.
- Emotional, mental and physical wellbeing
- Personal safety
- Financial security
- Access to education and training
- Employment preparation and advice
- Life skills development
- Work/study/leisure/family balance
- Sport, recreation, arts and culture opportunities
- Personal development
- Access to information, advice and support
- Participation in decision making and leadership
- Peer-led programs development
To achieve the following outcomes:
- Healthy, happy and safe young people
- Learning, work and future financial independence
- Living life to the full
- Making a difference.
1. Being healthy, happy and safe
Promoting healthy lifestyles is essential for the wellbeing of young people. Being well helps young people to participate in education, employment and other areas of life. Early intervention and prevention strategies are especially important for life-long health. These can be enhanced by connecting young people to the resources, services and programs they need to be healthy, happy and safe.
- Providing information for young people, families, carers, teachers and the wider community about issues which impact on young people such as mental health, body image, bullying, and alcohol and other drug use.
- Building and maintaining strong family, education and community partnerships to help young people become confident and resilient.
- Ensuring that mainstream services respond to the needs of all young people – there should be no wrong door for young people seeking help.
- Providing a range of targeted services for young people who experience complex challenges or who are vulnerable and at risk.
- Providing flexible youth services, programs and resources, with a focus on a coordinated approach, so that young people can access them when they are needed, wherever they live.
- Involving young people and their communities in the development of youth friendly services, programs, resources and communities.
Examples of how the Western Australian Government is supporting healthy, happy and safe young people can be found below.
Youthlink and Youthreach South – Mental Health Commission and Department of Health
Youthlink and Youthreach South provide specialist mental health services including consultation, training and community development. Services focus on enhancing the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 13 to 24 years who are marginalised and disadvantaged, particularly those who are unable to access other mental health services due to significant barriers.
School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA) – Drug and Alcohol Office.
SDERA aims to keep young people safe from drug-related harm and road injuries. The program works with school-based staff and the wider community to provide a range of programs to teach young people about resilience, drugs and road safety
- drug and road safety programs to implement in schools
- professional learning workshops
- teaching resources.
School Health Services – Department of Health and Department of Education
School Health Services aim to promote improved health outcomes for young people through universal and targeted prevention, health promotion, early identification and intervention. Services are provided on site and in collaboration with schools. Key elements of the program are universal health assessments at school entry, access to health care for adolescents and health promotion for all students.
2. Learning, work and future financial independence
Education and training are important for young people, enhancing their future independence and employment opportunities. Access to advice to find the right learning pathways is essential, as is additional support for young people who need it while transitioning from school to further study and work. Learning and work also need to be balanced with other aspects of their lives, like family, friends and community participation.
- Ensuring young people have the opportunity to access high quality education and training.
- Assisting young people to complete year 12 or its equivalent.
- Catering to the different learning styles of young people from diverse backgrounds.
- Encouraging participation of young people in apprenticeships, traineeships, vocational education and tertiary education.
- Responding to the diversity of individual needs by offering multiple, flexible pathways through education, training and employment.
- Providing career planning advice and assistance to navigate pathways for young people and their families and carers.
- Addressing barriers to learning and providing additional assistance if needed.
- Providing mentoring support to help young people transition into training, higher education and employment.
- Assisting young people to gain knowledge and skills to achieve future financial independence and to make informed career decisions throughout their lives.
Examples of how the Western Australian Government is supporting learning, work and future financial independence can be found below.
The Foyer Oxford – Department for Child Protection
The Foyer Oxford is a partnership between Anglicare WA, Foundation Housing Ltd and the Central Institute of Technology with operational funding provided by the Department for Child Protection. Currently under construction, when completed it will provide accommodation, support and education opportunities for 98 young people aged 15 to 25, including young parents, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. During construction, a smaller scale Interim Foyer is providing young people and young parents with supported accommodation and outreach support in the community to potential Foyer Oxford clients.
Youth Mentoring Reforms – Department of Local Government and Communities
Government and the community sector are working together to showcase best practice in youth mentoring and promote the benefits of programs that meet national youth mentoring benchmarks. In 2012, using funding under the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions, nearly $300 000 has been provided to four demonstration projects aimed at improving the quality of mentoring available to young people. The projects will develop resources for use across the sector for training mentors, evaluating mentoring programs and working with newly arrived young people and those in regional areas.
Training together–working together Aboriginal Workforce Development Strategy – Department of Training and Workforce Development
Aboriginal Workforce Development Centres have been set up to 'join the dots' between employers, jobseekers and service providers, between state agencies and between all levels of government. In 2011, Aboriginal Workforce Development Centres were established in Perth, Bunbury, Broome, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie. The centres provide culturally sensitive support to assist Aboriginal people to get a job and remove barriers to Aboriginal workforce to participation by working with employers, government and the Aboriginal community. In 2011 over 230 jobseekers across WA were assisted into either employment or training linked to employment.
Senior School Engagement Programs (SSEPs) – Department of Education.
In 2011-12, the Department of Education provided $5.7 million for flexible learning programs that provide individual case management to support students to meet their learning goals. The program is for students who, prior to the Raised Leaving Age, would not have returned to school to complete Years 11 and 12. SSEPs are generally run as discrete, 'off grid' classes that deliver a variety of Curriculum Council, VET and Endorsed Programs. Core learning includes literacy and numeracy, career development, life skills and workplace learning.
3. Living life to the full
Being part of the community is important to young people and strongly influences their health and wellbeing. Participation in sports, recreation, arts, culture and other activities helps young people to develop positive relationships, social networks, a sense of belonging and to have fun. Being involved in positive ways helps young people to grow and develop their identities and learn life skills, like trust and reciprocity, and has benefits for education and workforce participation. Finding a balance between leisure, study, work and family life is essential.
- Working together with young people to develop innovative strategies to promote inclusive, accessible and culturally secure participation by young people.
- Facilitating involvement by all young people, including those in rural, regional and remote areas and those from disadvantaged or marginalised backgrounds, by addressing barriers to participation.
- Supporting all young people to develop life skills, including conflict resolution and resilience to handle life challenges and risks.
- Encouraging young people to be active, creative and involved by offering diverse sport, recreation, arts and culture options that adapt to changing lifestyles.
- Promoting the use of open spaces, natural environments, creative hubs and community facilities by young people.
- Providing mentoring support for young people in sports, arts and culture.
- Providing opportunities for young people to make connections with each other in supportive on-line environments and social networks.
Examples of how the Western Australian Government is supporting young people to live life to the fullest can be found below.
Sport and Recreation Programs – Department of Sport and Recreation
The Department of Sport and Recreation has developed a significant youth focussed initiative 'Sport for All' featuring community based activity programs.
- KidSport – provides financial assistance for club fees, giving every young Western Australian the opportunity to participate in sport and recreation regardless of their economic circumstance.
- Community Volunteer Program – boosts the capacity of clubs to handle increases in club membership through support for volunteers.
- ClubTalk – provides sport and recreation organisations with information communication technology and support to enhance participation.
- Nature Play WA – encourages unstructured play outdoors and helps connect Western Australian children to nature.
Cadets WA – Department of Local Government and Communities
More than 7 000 young people participate in almost 200 cadet units across Western Australia. From Kununurra to Esperance to Kalgoorlie, young Western Australians are learning practical life kills, developing leadership potential, initiative and teamwork. Cadets WA builds a sense of community responsibility as well as allowing young people to make new friends. Cadets units include Bushrangers, Police Rangers, Emergency Service cadets, Red Cross, St John Ambulance, Surf Life Saving and defence forces cadets.
Young People and the Arts Funding Program – Department of Culture and the Arts
The Department of Culture and the Arts provides more than $2.5 million a year directly to young people, groups and organisations. The funding supports young people to develop skills, establish careers and achieve financial independence as artists and cultural practitioners. The 'Young People and the Arts Action Plan' prioritises actions to support young artists, children and their support networks, and the youth arts sector.
4. Making a difference
Many young people have a strong commitment to making the world a better place, contributing to community life at a local, state, national and even international level. They are active volunteers and seek out opportunities to have their voices heard and influence decisions. Community respect for young people is important along with recognition that some common negative stereotypes about young people do not apply to the majority. Some young people need additional skills and support to help them contribute. Their efforts to make a difference should be recognised and valued.
- Supporting young people to develop skills and confidence to be future leaders and to participate in decision making.
- Building the capacity of the community to include young people as active participants in all aspects of community life.
- Encouraging a stronger youth voice and providing opportunities for young people to have a voice in community life and develop solutions to community issues.
- Profiling the positive contributions young people make to the community to counter negative stereotypes and encourage further involvement.
- Working with young people, including those from disadvantaged or marginalised backgrounds, to develop innovative strategies to promote their contributions.
- Promoting the benefits of volunteering and developing innovative and inclusive strategies for the ongoing participation of youth volunteers.
- Strengthening and supporting youth volunteering in rural, regional and remote areas.
Examples of how the Western Australian Government is helping young people to make a difference can be found below.
Viewpoint – Department for Child Protection
Viewpoint is a web-based software program which promotes individual and collective participation by children in care. Using an interactive, selfinterviewing tool, delivered on dedicated laptops at a place of choice, it offers children a non-threatening environment where they can express unmediated views and wishes about their personal care plans and the services provided for them. Viewpoint delivers individual reports, and also collates responses to provide collective anonymous feedback from children about their experiences in care, the value they assign to existing services, and what they would like to see in the future.
Child and Adolescent Health Service Governing Council (CAHS-GC) – Department of Health
The CAHS-GC has two youth ex-officio members. This governing council brings highlevel community and clinician input and control into the planning and monitoring of public health services in Western Australia. The council members represent a broad cross-section of skills, experience and interests to ensure that health services are responsive to the needs of their communities. The two young members, along with the other council members, have a responsibility for ensuring effective engagement with community and clinical stakeholders, and ensuring their interests are reflected in health service planning and reporting.
WA Youth Awards – Department of Local Government and Communities
This annual awards program brings to community prominence the diverse and outstanding contributions of many young people. The program identifies and promotes these young people as role models and highlights and rewards media that portray accurate and balanced depictions of young people to counteract prevailing negative media stereotypes.
Count Me In Youth Strategy – Disability Services Commission
'Count Me In' is a long-term strategy to guide all of Western Australia when responding to people with disability, their families and carers. Within this, a youth strategy has been developed with four key areas:
- Young people with disability have access to information that is relevant to them.
- Young people with disability have opportunities to express their ideas and opinions about things that matter to them.
- Young people with disability receive encouragement and support to participate in community activities which interest them and to assume greater decision making and leadership roles.
- Key government agencies and community groups have strategies for engaging young people with disability about policies, planning and initiatives.
The way forward
The state government's vision is for a bright future where all young Western Australians can participate, contribute, feel connected, be well and be supported to achieve their potential.
This vision will be realised by:
- working together with young people, their families and carers, government and community groups
- listening to young people's views and involving them in decision making about what matters to them
- respecting, valuing and acknowledging young people's knowledge, experiences and choices
- engaging young people in creative approaches, programs and services to ensure they reach their potential
- recognising and building on the strengths and capabilities of young people
- being flexible and responsive in meeting the diverse needs and aspirations of young people, whoever they are and wherever they live
- delivering programs and services that are informed by research and feedback on what works.
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'Our Youth – Our Future' was developed in collaboration with the following Western Australian agencies:
- Department for Child Protection
- Department of Corrective Services
- Department of Culture and the Arts
- Department of Education
- Department of Health
- Department of Indigenous Affairs
- Department of Sport and Recreation and the Physical Activity Taskforce
- Department of Training and Workforce Development
- Disability Services Commission
- Drug and Alcohol Office
- Mental Health Commission
- Department of Local Government and Communities – Office of Multicultural Interests
- Western Australia Police
The Department of Local Government and Communities would like to acknowledge the input provided by young people, with support from the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia.