Insights

Advocacy

yourtown's advocacy work is focused on improving the lives of disadvantaged young people and their families.

Our work with young people brings with it the responsibility of leveraging our knowledge of their experiences to bring about systemic change.

Reports relating to employment, learning, mental health, family and domestic violence are regularly submitted to government to help shape social reform.

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Inquiry into Sustainable Employment for Disadvantaged Jobseekers Submission

Published: 09/20191AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

In this response, yourtown welcomes the Economy and Infrastructure Committee's inquiry into 'Sustainable Employment for Disadvantaged Jobseekers' and its recognition of the importance of employment and unemployment on social and economic outcomes for individuals, families and communities in Victoria. 

Through our work with young people, we know that employment has the power to provide every young person with the opportunity to reach their potential in life and, like many others, we believe that employment is critically important to an individual's wellbeing. 

We therefore share our insight and research with the Committee in our submission in the hope that, in addition to recognising the need for further government action in the development of more secure and meaningful jobs for young people, the Committee will fully understand the complexity of the issues that young disadvantaged jobseekers must overcome to secure work, so 'sustainable employment' not only includes the achievement of stable and meaningful work but also a raft of support measures both pre and post employment.

Online Safety Charter Submission

Published: 09/20191AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

In 2018, 2,70l counselling contacts to Kids Helpline were made relating to an online safety issue. We therefore welcome the opportunity to provide our insight in relation to the development of an Australian Online Safety Charter. 

Although they may be experts in the use of the internet and social media a pps, it is clear from our Kids Helpline contacts that many children and young people are highly vulnerable to internet harm, and - given their developmental immaturity - are not equipped to effectively manage the complexities and repercussions of online interactions and content. 

We therefore strongly welcome the development of an Online Safety Charter, and its intention to act as community-led standards for industry to protect citizens. The lack of regulation of social media and internet providers is a notable gap and we welcome acknowledgement that, as providers of the platforms for user interaction and access of information, they have a key role to play in controlling what is available on the internet and who can access it. 

Royal Commission inquiry into Victoria’s mental health system submission

Published: 09/20191AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

Although not funded by the Victorian government, Kids Helpline plays important and distinct roles in its mental health infrastructure. In 2018, 57 per cent (9,158 contacts) of all counselling sessions (16,034 contacts) known to be from Victoria to Kids Helpline were related to concerns about mental health, emotional wellbeing, self-harm and suicide.

Clearly, Victoria’s younger generations are in need of help and our experience in service delivery and increasing research shows that communities are not sufficiently able to support their needs.

By targeting children and young people with effective policies and interventions, there are significant opportunities to prevent and reduce the escalation of mental health issues and the considerable, detrimental, social and economic effects that they have on individuals over the life course, as well as on their families and communities.

Social and Economic Benefits of Improving Mental Health: Productivity Commission Submission

Published: 09/20191AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

We greatly welcome the Productivity Commission's inquiry into 'The Social and Economic Benefits of Improving Mental Health'. 

Given the nature of our work, and the number of children and young people we work with and have worked with, we have significant insight in relation to disadvantaged children and young people and their mental health to share.

In our submission, we identify the key areas on which we believe Australia needs to focus if we are to effectively support the mental health needs of children and young people, and help prevent and reduce the social and economic costs of unmet and escalating mental health needs over the life course. 

Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill: Submission

Published: 09/20191AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback to the Government's proposed amendments to existing legislation covering children and young people involved in the youth justice system in Queensland in this new bill.

yourtown has a history of providing youth offending support programs in Queensland, and we currently provide a group counselling program to assist young offenders regarding drug and alcohol use. 

The Bill covers many important areas, which if effectively implemented, should help to ensure that the youth justice system itself does not heighten the risk of children and young people reoffending and/or having lifelong involvement in the justice system. However there are also areas of the Bill about which we seek further detail.

Access System Redesign Submission

Published: 03/20191AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

In this response, yourtown strongly welcomes the NSW Government’s plan to comprehensively redesign the child safety, child wellbeing intake, assessment and referral system (the Access System). We fully support every effort to reframe the system so that it moves away from being crisis-focused and reactive to become an early intervention and prevention system.

Through our own work, we know that given the complexity of these challenges, there is no quick fix and no one intervention, approach or principle will alone alleviate them. However, thanks to emerging research and our own experience and research, yourtown has identified a number of broad approaches and principles to working with children, families and communities that produce positive results and provide a starting point for policy, service and system development.

In this submission, we present an overview of these approaches and principles using some examples of our programs that apply them, which cover deep and persistent areas of disadvantage such as family violence, unemployment, homelessness and youth offending.

 

 

Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Submission

Published: 03/20191AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

At yourtown we are committed to providing services that protect and keep children and young people free from harm at all times. We support children and young people to have their say, seek justice and access counselling and other support services to overcome the impacts of abuse.

We therefore welcome the draft legislation, Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, which seeks to further strengthen the Australian Government's legal response to the sexual exploitation of children.

In this submission we highlight some areas we would like to see further strengthened including:

  • The Australian Government seeking to play a leadership role in putting this issue at the top of the international agenda as well as in proactively educating children about the dangers of the digital world
  • Ensuring that minors are not unduly criminalised by the Bill’s measures
  • Developing guidelines in relation to the Attorney General’s discretionary approach to the endorsement of criminal proceedings against a minor with child and youth development experts

Inquiry into ParentsNext Submission

Published: 03/20191AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

As both a provider of ParentsNext in Elizabeth during the trial period and as a current provider of targeted ParentsNext in Mid-North South Australia, yourtown welcomes the inquiry into ParentsNext.

We have rich insight to contribute in relation to its implementation, design and delivery as a result of this experience. In addition, as we continue to deliver services to disadvantaged groups in Elizabeth, we have a unique perspective on the rollout of the intensive scheme in that area.

In this submission, we outline the changes we believe are required to make ParentsNext effective, including:

  • The alignment of the two programs in terms of the provision of an employment fund in both
  • Increasing the age of the parent’s youngest child to one year old for compulsory attendance
  • Changing the focus of activities for parents with children aged one to three years old to the provision of support to help them parent and provide stability at home and for themselves

Working With Children Submission

Published: 12/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

We are encouraged by the Government's commitment to reform the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (Government Bill). The current system is in need of some critical changes to ensure the timely and appropriate review of the background and history checks of people working with children. 

In this submission we outline our support for the Bill’s changes and implementation of the ‘No Card, No Start’ regulation for employees working with children. We also emphasise the importance of ensuring government processing of bluecards does not unnecessarily delay the start of vital frontline service staff.

Human Rights Bill Submission

Published: 11/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

At yourtown, we welcome this historical Bill. It includes many rights that are of notable importance to children and young people. In this submission we cover:

  • The importance of consulting with children and young people to ensure the Bill appropriately meets their needs and expectations
  • The need to treat children and young people differently and separately from adults in the justice system
  • The Bill's recognition of the distinct cutural rights of First Australians
  • The implications on organisations and the need for clear guidelines about their status, rights and responsibilities

Review Of The Family Law Court System: Submission

Published: 11/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

Many of yourtown's clients are deeply affected by family separation and as such they come into contact with the legal system. 

In this repsonse to the Australian Law Reform Commision's review of the family law court system, we broadly welcome the approach suggested, including a public health approach and children and young people being appropriately recognised as clients of the system.

However, we also acknowledge that the proposed changes require significant political will and resources if they are to be effective in their implementation and intended outcomes. 

The non-educational use of mobile devices in NSW schools

Published: 11/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

The non-educational use of mobile phones at school is an issue which divides many people. At yourtown, we are aware of how beneficial mobile phones are to children and young people in terms of social connections, communicating with parents, and accessing educational resources and information. However, we also know from Kids Helpline contacts the damaging effect mobile phones can have on young lives through cyberbullying, image-based abuse and online harm at school.

In this submission to the New South Wales Government review into non-educational use of mobile devices in schools, we advocate a whole school approach where schools work with parents, families and the wider community to develop local strategies to help educate all parties concerned about the healthy and appropriate use of mobile phones.

Imprisonment And Recidivism: Submission

Published: 10/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

Given the complexity of issues behind youth offending, together with the fact that children's brains are still developing and hence they are vulnerable to making poor or risky choices - yourtown strongly advocates for a justice system that is driven by a focus on holistic, early intervention and supported by acute services that deliver effective and comprehensive rehabilitation options.

As a result, we strongly welcome the Queensland Productivity Commission's inquiry into imprisonment and recidivism in Queensland.

In this submission, we acknowledge the complexity and range of causes behind youth offending and that there is no one single thing that can be done to reduce offending. We also present a number of different key intervention areas that, from our experience of delivering youth offending support services, we believe require greater attention to reduce youth offending.

Inquiry Into jobactive: Submission

Published: 09/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

As a youth specialist employment provider, yourtown sees firsthand the transformational power of employment on young people's lives. Securing a stable and fulfilling job has the potential to improve a range of life outcomes, including health, wellbeing, social and economic outcomes.

Yet youth unemployment has historically been higher than the overall unemployment rate, with increasing numbers of young people experiencing long-term unemployment.

Given the number of young people requiring assistance and the nature of their needs, our jobactive support is thinly stretched and we often cannot provide the intensive and holistic support that young people need. Over time, we have realised that the jobactive model, as it currently stands, does not address the growing number of jobseekers, especially young people, moving into long-term unemployment.

In this submission we share how our own pilot program - your job, your way, has been developed to address this challenge and demonstrate how it can be incorporated into jobactive.

Intergenerational Welfare Dependence Submission

Published: 09/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

Increasingly, research is looking at intergenerational disadvantage and ways to break its cycle and improve life outcomes for those affected by it. 

At yourtown, we work with many children and families for whom intergenerational disadvantage is a reality. Many of our clients accessing our employment support programs have parents who have never worked or who are unemployed, whilst many of our clients accessing our parenting support programs were born to teenage or young adult parents themselves. 

In this submission we present the principles and approaches that yourtown takes in the delivery of its support services to children and young people with the aim of disrupting intergenerational disadvantage.

My Health Record System: Submission

Published: 09/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

The Gold Coast Domestic Violence Integrated Response (GCDVIR) working party members, endorsed agencies and peak bodies across Australia have deep concerns about the privacy and security of My Health Record system's potential to compromise the safety of women and children who are subjected to family violence.

These concerns are derived from real life examples that we have encountered in our work with vulnerable families.

This submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, coordinated by yourtown on behalf of the GCDVIR , highlights the heightened risks to women and children vulnerable to domestic violence if the My Health Record system is introduced in its current form. 

Queensland Youth Justice Strategy: Submission

Published: 09/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

The vast majority of children and young people who commit offences are among Queensland's most disadvantaged. 

At yourtown, our work and experience providing support to the nation's most disadvantaged children and young people equips us with rich insight about the challenges, barriers and facilitators to preventing youth offending.

In this submission, we support many of the recommendations for reform of the youth justice system as presented in the Government’s review of the system. There is clear alignment between the assessment of government and non-government organisations about what steps need to be taken. 

However, there are a number of areas we would like to see further attention in any future reform. Despite broad agreement on reform, the path to successful implementation will require integrated working, significant resourcing and sustained and long-term political commitment.

The Next Generation Of Employment Services: Submission

Published: 08/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

As a national youth services provider, yourtown is very concerned about the number of young people experiencing unemployment. In June 2018 the youth unemployment rate stood at 11.6% compared with the rate recorded for all persons of 5.4%.

What is even more worrying is that increasing numbers of young people are experiencing long-term unemployment. There is evidence that this cohort is falling through gaps in federally-funded employment programs, putting them at risk of permanent detachment from the labour market.

This issue is a major focus of this submission, which is based on the insights gained from our extensive experience in service delivery and the research we have undertaken specifically with young people in unemployment for more than 52 weeks and with our staff.

yourtown's Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Fundraising

Published: 08/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

At yourtown, we believe that donors want to give to causes which they are emotionally engaged/aligned with. In doing so, donors want to be assured that their donation ultimately makes a difference.

However, for charities that operate across the nine separate jurisdiction in Australia, there is a mountain of legislative red tape to administer - which comes at a cost.

This submission to the Senate Select Committee looks at these legislations and regulations. It makes a recommendation that Commonwealth, State and Territory governments need to partner and co-design with charities a new legislative framework for the 21st Century.

Tackling Long-term Youth Unemployment

Published: 06/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, Discussion Papers, Policy Statements

There are over 52,000 young people in Australia experiencing long-term unemployment. Long-term unemployed young people deal with a range of highly complex, multifaceted and often very different issues but all are at risk of social exclusion and permanent unemployment. This set of documents is part of yourtown’s advocacy platform in response to this issue.

The Position Statement outlines what we know about long-term unemployed young people and proposes a new model of support that highlights the need for tailored, individualised and intensive assistance to help them transition into work.

The Advocacy Paper details yourtown’s research with young people in long-term unemployment by highlighting their experiences and describing strategies for finding and remaining in employment.

The Discussion Paper provides a review of Australian and international literature on the issues associated with long-term youth unemployment.

The your job your way information sheet provides a brief overview of the trial program yourtown has designed as a solution to youth long-term employment. The program complements the Federal Government’s jobactive service and offer strength based individualised client support, targeted employer engagement strategies and intensive ‘in work’ mentoring.

Accessibility And Quality Of Mental Health Services In Rural And Remote Australia

Published: 06/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

In this submission to the Senate's inquiry into mental health services in rural and remote Australia, yourtown shares learnings from our current research projects which seek to ensure that all young Australians - regardless of where the live - can access timely and high quality support.

Review Of The Family Law Court System

Published: 06/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

A long overdue and wholesale review of the family law court system is being undertaken. In this comprehensive submission, yourtown sets out the challenges, hurdles and emotional distress that the current system presents to our clients when confronted with issues such as family separation and family violence.

The Prevention and Reduction of Cyberbullying of Young People

Published: 06/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

 yourtown has undertaken significant pieces of research intothe experiences of young people and their parents in relation to cyberbullying.

In this submission to the Queensland Anti-cyberbullying Taskforce - of which yourtown is a member - we present our research findings and recommendations for a long-term public health approach to addressing this public health issue.   

Preventing suicide by children and young people

Published: 04/20181AAd
Categories: Research & Evaluations, Advocacy, Discussion Papers, Policy Statements

Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 12-25. In 2016, 153 young people in Australia aged between 5 and 19 died by suicide and many more thought about or attempted suicide. This set of documents is part of yourtown’s advocacy platform in response to this issue.

The Position Statement outlines ten key measures to prevent youth suicide that we have identified through research, consultation with children and young people, and the experience of our staff who work with vulnerable young people every day.

Preventing suicide by children and young people shares the views and experiences of 472 children and young people who told us how they got help when they were feeling suicidal, which experiences were helpful and which weren’t, and what advice they would like to give to others, including their families, friends and service providers.

Kids Helpline Key Insights 2017 provides a summary of the characteristics of the suicide-related contacts to Kids Helpline.

The Parents Matter information sheet provides information and guidance for parents who are concerned that their child is going through a tough time and may be vulnerable to thoughts of suicide.

Kids Helpline's When your friend is thinking about suicide comics aim to encourage young people to seek help and support each other.

Queensland Family and Child Commission Research in the Round

Published: 02/20181AAd
Categories: Advocacy, Discussion Papers

In February 2018, the Queensland Family and Child Commission hosted their bi-annual Research in the Round on the topic of Reducing Youth Suicide. yourtown Senior Researcher Samantha Batchelor was one of three researchers invited to present to an audience of policy makers, practitioners and researchers. Other presenters were Associate Professor James Scott of University of Queensland and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Ms Leda Barnett, a psychologist with many years of experience in Indigenous research. The presentations of all three researchers, and summaries of their research, are available on the QFCC website.

Inquiry Into Support For New Parents And Babies

Published: 12/20171AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

For young parents, and in particular for teenage parents, parenthood often presents a range of different and complex challenges compared to those experienced by older parents. These include challenges relating specifically to their age and inexperience, and to higher correlations between young parenthood and a range of complex and often interrelated issues. Young parents therefore need and benefit from support services designed to meet their specific needs so they too can positively experience parenthood.  

This submission is yourtown’s response to the NSW inquiry into support for new parents and babies.

Supporting The Retention Of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Students

Published: 10/20171AAd
Categories: Advocacy, Discussion Papers

Educational outcomes have long-lasting consequences for young people, with increased school participation and completion rates linked to improved employment, income and other social and economic outcomes over the life course. With statistics continuing to show marked differences in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, it is right that governments across Australia continue to focus on and heavily invest in policy and interventions designed to address this gap.

Adequacy Of Criminal Laws To Capture Cyberbullying

Published: 10/20171AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

Cyberbullying is a complex social issue that is affecting increasing numbers of children and young people, and there is still a lot to learn about its prevalence and its impact on victims, perpetrators and bystanders. In this submission, yourtown responds to a Senate Committee inquiry into the adequacy of current legislation to address cyberbullying.

Strengthening Child Sexual Abuse Laws In NSW

Published: 10/20171AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

yourtown’s confidential counselling service, Kids Helpline, provides us with significant insight into the impact of sexting on children and young people. In this submission we use data, analysis and case studies from contacts from Kids Helpline in 2016 to respond to the recommendations of the 2013 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and issues raised by the 2017 Child Sexual Offences Review conducted by the NSW Department of Justice, focusing solely on Chapter 12 'Decriminalising consensual sexting'.

Preventing Suicide by Children and Young People: Submission

Published: 08/20171AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

Suicide is the leading cause of death of young people in Australia. Through delivery of Kids Helpline and through our research, yourtown hears from young people thinking about, planning and attempting suicide first hand. In this response to the NSW Parliament Committee on Children and Young People’s Inquiry into the Prevention of Youth Suicide, we draw upon our experience in service delivery and our consultation with young people to highlight key elements of effective services and other issues we believe should be prioritised by policymakers and service providers.

Suicidal thoughts start young: The critical need for family support and early intervention

Published: 07/20171AAd
Categories: Advocacy, Discussion Papers

Presentation at the National Suicide Prevention Conference, Brisbane, July 2017

Between 2011 and 2015, 89 children aged 14 years or younger died by suicide and Kids Helpline data show that many more think about suicide. Concerningly, ABS data suggest that suicide rates in this age group are increasing, but very little research about the help-seeking experiences of this group exists.

In this presentation we reported analysis of two sources of data about help-seeking by this age group: Kids Helpline contact data from the past five years, and yourtown’s survey of children and young people with lived experience of suicide, which included 139 (29.4%) respondents aged 14 years or younger.

Our survey data showed that younger people were significantly less likely to have sought and received help than older age groups, and that they often seek help from parents, many of whom do not know how to respond effectively. The presentation highlighted the need for more data about suicidality in children, more education and support for families, a critical need to reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking, as well as greater access to early intervention and outreach services for children.

The Impact of Pregnancy and Parenting on Teens and Young People

Published: 05/20171AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

Each year Kids Helpline (KHL) receives, on average, approximately 500 contacts related to pregnancy, and about 520 related to sexual activity, contraception or parenting from kids and young people (aged from 13 to 17 years). As well, yourtown runs several programs in various locations throughout Australia that assist pregnant teens or young parents with parenting, employment, and educational opportunities. In 2017 yourtown made a submission to the National Children’s Commissioner’s inquiry into teen pregnancy and young parenthood. That submission drew on a literature review, KHL data on contacts from young people (13-17) related to pregnancy, sexual behavior, contraception and young parenthood, and on an interview study with yourtown staff who work with young people in services that support pregnant teens and young parents.

Harm to children through exposure to pornography on the internet: Response to senate inquiry

Published: 03/20161AAd
Categories: Advocacy, yourtown Submissions

Pornography consumption makes up approximately 30% of all internet traffic, and whether intentional or accidental, children's exposure to pornography has dramatically increased as a result of the internet. Furthermore, the nature of pornography has been changing; popular mainstream pornography contains aggression and violence (mostly directed towards women) and teaches poor messages about consent. This response to the 2016 Environment and Communications References Committee senate inquiry presents data from Kids Helpline and Parentline summarising our clients' experiences of harm relating to exposure to pornography on the internet and presents our recommendations to government for how to reduce the harm caused by exposure to pornography.

Preventing Suicide by Young People: Discussion Paper

Published: 10/20151AAd
Categories: Advocacy, Discussion Papers

Discourse about suicide often fails to recognise the lived experience of young people. This paper aims to: commence a conversation with policy makers, practitioners, researchers, and those with lived experience, and guide consultations to enhance our understanding of the issue, and inform the development of more effective responses to reduce suicidal behaviours.

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