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    The Asquith Group Case Study discussions

    From the e2e Convenor

    Created on Tue , 03/14/2017
    This paper might be best summarised as a response to two related questions: How do we ensure all young people see a future for themselves? How do we ensure all young people have a future?

    Too many young people are not completing education, or not making successful transitions from school to further study, or to employment. Whichever way you look at it, disengagement of young people from school, and high levels of youth unemployment, are costing us all: socially and economically.

    Greater reflection is needed to understand and address the challenges we face - and the cost of not doing more. Greater, more effective, actions. Greater investment of our time and resources.

    All levels of government, community organisations, education and training providers, business and industry have a role to play. More concerted effort and genuine collaboration, and increased financial investment by governments especially, are required to make a real impact.

    We need to show more cleverness to tackle the issues and challenges: to show more empathy, and to be practical in our responses. There’s clearly a need for more co-operative efforts to improve policy, and to also increase the amount and quality of education, pre-employment and training program delivery, therapeutic supports, outreach and other initiatives.

    It has almost become a cliché to call for more focused, coordinated and integrated approaches, whether we’re referring to supporting children and families, or to young people. Despite years of such talk, not enough progress has been made. So too when we refer to “whole-of-government” approaches. Things move slowly indeed.

    Yet Victoria now has an opportunity to become a leader among states to effectively respond to increasing disengagement from education and youth unemployment. Although these issues and challenges are not unique to this state, there is much in place here - in funding, organisations, programs and services - which are making a difference.

    This Paper’s focus is on improving transitions and pathways for young people. In considering all relevant issues, we believe it’s important to not just focus on those aged 12 and above, but to also consider those in the middle years, ie children and young people aged 8 to 12. In fact we believe it’s time this younger age group was included in all discussions (including consultations) around young people, as well as youth policy and program delivery.

    In accordance with our own Terms of Reference, we have highlighted some key themes, and we also recommend some new approaches, as well as revisiting some. We acknowledge those that are current – eg models and programs – that are working well. Taken as a whole if our recommendations were to be adopted they have the capacity to deliver social and economic benefits.

    We are aware of the current political landscape, and the challenges that arise when state and federal governments have differing political positions. However we should never accept that we have young people who are not doing well, nor allow them to be treated them less equally.

    There’s no doubt that we should also be striving for “inclusive” growth. Apart from addressing inequalities, growth that is truly inclusive creates opportunities for the most vulnerable. Social equity matters. As a Report from the Foundation for Young Australians says, “the flourishing of young people is important, not just for their own sake, but for the benefit of all of us.”

    A note about terms and definitions used

    In Australia, the terms “youth” or “young people’, “disengaged” “at risk” and “unemployed” have widespread usage in police and practice.

    Although no fixed, age-based definitions of “youth” exists, the definition of a “young person” or “youth” usually refers to those aged 12, or those aged 15 and over. For the purposes of this paper, “youth” is defined as referring to those aged 12 and over. We also note that the upper age range for “youth” is variously marked as 19, or 24. We use the latter age (ie 24) in this paper as our upper age limit.

    We recognise that because we are exploring issues around “disengagement”, transitions and pathways, and “unemployment”, when we refer to “youth” or ‘young people” we accept that many will be thinking of those aged at least 15. However we also need to acknowledge that disengagement does occur during the middle years.

    Middle years
    Although the “middle years” is sometimes variously defined and interpreted, at least two peak bodies, the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic), have offered 8 to 12 as the age range for the middle years. This is the age range we also refer to here when we use the term “middle years”.

    “Practitioners, researchers, politicians and their education policies use the term disengaged “to describe young people who do not have a stable learning relationship with a significant adult or institution. This relationship could take place at school, through a distance-learning programme, with an employer or training provider. The important distinction is the stability of the relationship”.1 In the UK and Europe another term for disengaged youth is “NEET” (Not in Education, Employment or Training), although this term is not as widely used here in Australia.

    At risk
    “At-risk” is an adjective attached to young people who lack stable learning relationships. There is a substantial literature related to the identification of risk and protective factors amongst young populations. However the literature on this subject covers many risk variables besides education, training and employment. The concept at risk encompasses a broad view of the factors that can lead to a young person being disengaged.

    According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 3 to be classified as
    unemployed a person needs to meet the following three criteria:
    - not working more than one hour in the reference week
    - actively looking for work in previous four weeks; and
    - be available to start work in the reference week.

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