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Paula is a Senior Policy Adviser at VCOSS.
Contact Paula at email@example.com
Adolescence and young adulthood are critical stages for emotional, social and physical growth and development, including brain development. It is a time when young people can be particularly vulnerable and require the right support to ensure that they are able to reach their potential.
Experiences of violence, trauma or neglect undermine young people’s development. Even without such negative experiences, adolescence can be a difficult time of transition and change. Flexible, integrated services support services play an important role in ensuring all young people maximise their capacity to participate in education, training and/or employment.
Yet many communities in Victoria, particularly in rural and regional areas and on the urban metropolitan fringe, have no early support services for young people, or generalist youth services. Where services are available, they are often not local, making it difficult for young people to get to them.
Recommendations 1.That the Victorian Government incorporate a ‘life course’ approach — from birth to adulthood — into policy development beginning with the development of the Vulnerable Children, Young People and Families Framework. 2. That Victorian local governments incorporate a ‘life course’ approach to policy development to better integrate and coordinate policy and programs between the child, family and youth portfolios. 3. That the Victorian Government develops a policy framework for the ‘middle years’ — 8 to 12 years — which incorporates new program development and specific funding for services to support children in the middle years. 4. That the Victorian Government resources a partnership between the early years, family services, youth and academic sectors to address workforce skills and development in relation to the middle years. 5. That the Victorian Government extend the Best Start program statewide and expand the scope of Best Start to 12 years to better respond to the health and wellbeing needs of children in the middle years. 6. That the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development increase the assessment of health and wellbeing of children and young people through primary and secondary school based on research about the critical ages to undertake assessment. 7.That the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development develop transition planning for children moving between primary and secondary schools.
Recommendations 8. That the Victorian Government creates a new governance framework to assist evidence based and coordinated service planning, development and delivery for children and young people across Victoria. This framework would include a Regional Youth Outcomes Taskforce and Local Youth Outcomes Collaboration Groups. 9. That the Victorian Government change the name and extend the scope of the Children’s Services Coordination Board to the Children and Youth Services Coordination Board.
Recommendations 10. That the Victorian Government commit to collaborative models that will engage vulnerable young people in learning taking into consideration the system reform initiatives identified from the Youth Partnerships demonstration sites. 11. That the role of partnership brokers between schools and community sector organisations, incorporating the strengths of the School Focussed Youth Service program, be retained in future models of support for vulnerable young people developed by DEECD. 12. That the Victorian Government trial a ‘youth workers in schools’ model where youth workers from local services are funded to participate in multidisciplinary student wellbeing teams within school settings. 13. That the Victorian Government work with community sector organisations and schools to develop and resource more flexible models of education across Victoria.
Recommendation 14. That the Victorian Government develops more flexible and transparent funding models that support coordinated youth centred models. This should include the establishment of a shared pool of funding across government departments that can be utilised for more holistic service delivery approaches.
Recommendations 15. That the Victorian Government develop a workforce strategy that ensures all workers with young people, including DHS Services Connect case management staff, are familiar with the Victorian Code of Ethical Practice and that all organisations that support children, young people and their families undertake cultural competence and disability competence training. 16. That the Victorian Government, in partnership with local government, invest resources to create more generalist youth support services across Victoria. 17. That the Victorian Government fund specialist adult services to develop family-sensitive practices as recommended by the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry.
Recommendations 17. That the Victorian Government, in partnership with the community sector, local government and schools, develop measurement tools to monitor the health, development and wellbeing of young people and children in the middle years building on the Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System (VCAMS).