Michelle Lensink

South Australian Youth Workers Conference

This speech is in regards to the South Australian Youth Workers Conference on 19 and 20 April 2011.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:28): I rise to speak about the South Australian Youth Workers Conference on 19 and 20 April this year, which I had the great privilege of opening. It was held at the Goodwood Orphanage and organised by the Youth Affairs Council of South Australia, and I would like to congratulate them, particularly committee members Ms Anne Bainbridge and Dr Phil Daughtry. Twelve months prior to the conference, they had hoped for 120 participants; they had to close registrations at 250.

There were a number of youth workers from across the state from various sectors including local government and non-government organisations, representatives from youth advisory councils, city and country delegates and delegates from as far away as Malaysia. There were two days of workshops, which included a range of topics such as:

youth participation;

restorative justice;

reflective practice and supervision in youth work;

engaging with the stories of Indigenous people and their families;

promoting holistic culture and staff teams;

the shape of a code of ethics for youth work in South Australia;

working creatively with young people's reluctance, resistance and protest;

engaging with stories of diverse youth ethnicity;

and bridging the divide: conversations between 'secular' and 'faith based' youth, among many others.

We had a cultural item from Imbala Jarjum, who represent the Peramangk people of the Adelaide Hills. We also had a keynote speech from Mark Henley—who would be well known to many honourable members—who has a long history of working in the youth sector. His speech was very interesting, and I have since encouraged him to publish it because he talked at length about youth work being a relatively new Western concept, which can be for children of 15. However, as children develop younger and more independently into the adult years, youth is now generally considered a transition from dependence to independence.

Mark Henley talked about youth work in the 50s and 60s and the role of the YMCA and the YWCA; the uniformed groups, such as the Scouts; the recreational approach; centre based and camps based, which is a topic of interest to the Hon. Dr Bob Such; and the role of the departments for recreation and sport and primary industries through rural youth.

Previously, youth workers were very much volunteers without training. In the next phase we have Service to Youth, which went into orphanages, with much focus on youth gangs and street work in the 70s. In the 80s, we had the formation of YACSA. Much is often made of the angst issues of young people, and I think there are a lot of stereotypes associated with young people working in the youth sector. Those people certainly are aware of the great diversity of young people. Whilst some kids may need assistance, there is also a very large number of young people who will never need any assistance at all because they know exactly what they want.

We have had recently in this place the youth parliament, with some of the most articulate young people that the state has, which is also a great opportunity that fits within the general purview of youth work. I think it is important that we do not stereotype young people. Particularly with youth work, we would like kids to realise that they have opportunities, and we would like to assist them with those opportunities so that they are set on to their life path.

 

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