In order to develop our knowledge of the issues affecting young people, we brought together a working group of organisations with expertise in youth policy and on the ground service delivery.
The working group agreed that we should focus on initiatives that expand opportunities for disadvantaged young people who have, or are in danger of, dropping out of the education system, are unable to access vocational training, obtain employment or otherwise unable to reach their full potential.
With help from the working group, Melbourne Community Foundation ran a donor information session, titled Exploring Positive Futures for Young People at Risk. This forum provided an overview of issues facing young people, and showcased five projects active in the areas of employment, education, training and community involvement pathways for marginalised young people.
Following this session proposals were sought from those organisations which had presented at the forum, for projects addressing these issues. On the recommendation of the Melbourne Community Foundation grants committee, the Board approved three of the projects.
Through implementation of the Youth at Risk initiative, it has become apparent that the youth employment and training sector is fragmented, resulting in difficulties for young people navigating the system, and preventing them from moving easily between programs.
Together with a range or other community sector, government and philanthropic organisations, known as the Youth Collaboration, Melbourne Community Foundation became involved in the development and funding of a project which was designed to improve the way that young people, particularly those leaving school early, can make a successful transition to economic independence.
Youth researchers between 15 and 19 years of age were trained and employed at three sites - Braybrook-Maidstone in the Western suburbs, Frankston and Shepparton - to gather feedback from other young people on their experience of transition pathways before and after they leave school. The information that they collected was used to inform local service providers and government departments about how they can be more responsive to young people’s need to navigate service systems and access support programs.
The report of phase one of the project Youth Voice: Peer Research into Youth Transitions, was launched by the then Education Minister Bronwyn Pike on 30 November 2007 at Braybrook Community Centre.
On the basis of the first phase of the project, youth research and consultation training modules were developed and utilised in phase two of the project. A further 18 young people from the three sites were recruited to undertake accredited training, design the consultation format, conduct a range of consultations with 300 young people in relation to youth transitions and their knowledge of youth transition services and programs. In addition, a feasibility study to explore the establishment of a youth consultancy social enterprise was undertaken.
The findings and recommendations from phase two of the project are contained in the report Youth Voice Report Stage II: School Transitions.
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