Challenges within the emerging & connecting worlds of Youth Work
By Lisa Hann
Youth Work Engagement Advisor
In Aotearoa right now, there are approximately 761,900 young people aged between 12 – 24yrs old. A large percentage of these young people will be entering the workforce over the next few years. Last week saw the long awaited and much needed, Ara Taiohi’s National Youth Work conference, ‘Involve – Me hoki whakamuri, kia ahu whakamua, kaneke: Looking Back to Move Forward’. Three days witnessed 900+ delegates, all with a passion for youth and the youth work sector, sharing spaces, stories, collaborating, connecting, planning, celebrating and dreaming……………and throwing down challenges to those brave enough to pick them up.
In his opening address Judge Becroft spoke of the high rates of mental health challenges our youth face, the escalating prevalence of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in rangatahi and highlighted ever present challenges from colonisation, poverty and material disadvantage. As recent as this week, The Herald ran an article on the increasing number of youth offenders with disabilities going through the court system in Aotearoa, research suggesting up to 75 percent of youth involved in the justice system may have a mental disorder or disability.
Judge Becroft told the NZ Herald, “We also have young people who are affected by methamphetamine, early onset of mental illness and intellectual disabilities, as well as a high percentage of young people who are affected by traumatic brain injuries.” Research shows that as many as 50 to 75 percent of youth involved in the justice system meet diagnostic criteria for at least one disorder and twenty percent of youth offenders were also identified as having a learning disability. Judge Walker reminds us that ‘disabilities and mental health challenges don’t have an expiry date’.
As the Industry Training Organisation for the youth work, mental health and disability sectors, Careerforce’s challenge, I believe, is to be creative and proactive to the emerging face of youth work, while being responsive to current needs at the same time. We know that there is a growing need for professionals in all areas that engage with young people to have a clear, robust analysis and understanding of the world young people are growing into; the challenges they face; the resources they may need and most importantly, these professionals require the right tools and strategies to engage and support young people in this space.
About the author
Lisa is the Youth Work Engagement Advisor for Careerforce and works closely with the youth work sector in Aotearoa. She has creative passion and focus for building the capacity of the youth work sector from supporting the development of emerging youth workers, to strengthening practice of competent professionals who find themselves now walking alongside Taiohi. Lisa has an extensive background in the area of youth worker development and furthers this by her independent role as a clinical supervisor in the youth work sector; rōpū and member of Korowai Tupu – The Professional Association of Youth Workers in Aotearoa and as a long-time member of the Aotearoa NZ Association for Social Workers.