Since 1991, YANQ has had a subtle but far-reaching impact on the future of youth services in the state. We have introduced a language of rights into the sector, promoting rights-based rather than solely needs-based responses, and have had policy successes, including successful lobbying around ending automatic strip-searching of young people in detention.
Some of YANQ's first Steering Committee - August 1989
The Youth Affairs Network Queensland or YANQ (we pronounce it 'yank') has been in operation since 1989 and became incorporated in January 1991.
(1989-1991) Youth Affairs Contact Centre
The original idea for YANQ was to link regional networks of youth services and organisations into a State-wide network. Meetings and conferences in 1987 and 1988 confirmed the need for a coordinated networking and information-linking system in order to promote the needs of young people.
The forerunner to YANQ was the Youth Affairs Contact Centre, originally funded through a Federal Government grant and then resourced by the Youth Division of the Queensland State Government. The Contact Centre operated a free of charge Youth Info Line and sent out a monthly newsletter around the State.
During this time, a Steering Committee, which had been elected at a public meeting in 1987, was also in operation to develop a proposal and funding submission for the Youth Affairs Network of Queensland.
(1991 onwards) YANQ: Core Activities of the Network
YANQ receives its core operational grant through the Queensland Government's Office for Youth, currently part of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. YANQ also receives special projects' funding from various State and Commonwealth Government Departments, Universities and other youth organisations, especially in project areas relating to specific social justice target groups.
Since 1991, YANQ has engaged with a broad spread of issues relevant to disadvantaged young people and the youth sector:
Multicultural Development (1994-2009)
Since 1994, YANQ has advocated on behalf of young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and has worked to develop policy measures that reflect their needs. To this end, YANQ established the Multicultural Youth Network Queensland, and in 2007, developed a vision for multiculturalism that incorporated all cultures in Multiculturalism: from Myth to Reality. Whilst reduced funding in recent times has meant work on this front has been somewhat limited, we are excited about upcoming opportunities to re-establish the Multicultural Development Officer position.
Engagement with Murri Communities (2003 ->)
In 2003, YANQ realised that it had made few sustained efforts to engage meaningfully with Murri communities in Queensland. Since then, we have made this a top priority of the network, visiting communities throughout the state, researching and developing specific reports on the Murri Youth Sector and providing avenues for a strong Murri voice in YANQ's policy development. In 2012, we established a Murri Reference Group to further our work on this front, and have grounded our new Vision and Values on our learnings from Aboriginal culture and knowledge.
Workforce Development (2009 ->)
In 2009, YANQ received an Australian Research Council grant to focus on workforce development issues. YANQ has been advocating for a systemic approach to the development and maintenance of the State's Youth Sector. We believe that a wide ranging, well planned collaborative approach is required to ensure Queensland has a quality skilled youth sector into the future. Workforce development provides a framework for organisations, sectors and the government to approach sector wide development.
Since 2009, we have undertaken research into the sector's workforce, developing in 2010 an overview report The Youth Sector in Queensland, and in 2011 a report that specifically focused on youth work in Aboriginal communities, the Murri Youth Sector in Queensland.
Alternative education (2003 ->)
The genesis of this project goes back at least to 2003 with the publication of a discussion paper entitled What Are Schools For?. In that report, YANQ welcomed the then Beattie Government's plans to fund community organisations to employ youth workers in schools around Queensland. In the same report, however, we also called for greater support for young people who were marginalised from education and not attending schools. Since that report, YANQ has continued to agitate for greater support for young people who are disengaged from schooling through a range of publications and research projects.
Juvenile Justice (1991 ->)
YANQ has been working to reduce the numbers of young people on remand, and to stop the incarceration of 17 year olds in adult prisons for nearly two decades. Along with the Incorrections Interagency, we have lobbied State Government for an end to Queensland detention laws that contravene international children's rights obligations. We have also developed campaign resources to help other organisations campaign to this end.
'ADHD' Advocacy (1992 ->)
Advocacy and awareness raising around the overmedication and overdiagnosis of disorders such as ADHD has been high on our agenda for a long time. Our aim is to directly engage communities through our Celebrate, Don't Medicate campaign, running forums and information sessions to help parents understand the dangers of medicating difficult behaviours. We also continue to lobby at a state level to ensure children in state care are being properly looked after – as levels of medication for social disorders for children in care remain disproportionately high.
Policy Forums and State Conferences (1987 ->)
Over the last two decades, YANQ has brought the youth together to network and feed into government policy processes. We host annual policy forums and in 2011 established Communities of Leaders Action Practice Networks in 10 regions across Queensland to further decentralise YANQ policy processes. YANQ is also funded biennially to organise and run the State Youth Affairs Conference as one of its most significant State-wide activities. The next Conference is planned for June 2013.
Publications and Communication
We have been regularly updating the Queensland youth sector to relevant goings on since 1987. Back then it was a monthly newsletter, but this has developed over time to a fortnightly email update, along with continually updated news and training opportunities sections on our website, which came into being in 2000. As hard copy publications, YANQ has produced the quarterly Network Noise magazine since 1989 that is delivered free to all members, along with newTransitions, our annual youth work journal.
YANQ has delivered training to the youth sector for 20 years, focusing particularly on the values underpinning youth work practice. In 2003, YANQ was established as a Registered Training Organisation to fill a gap after the Youth Services Training Council folded. Between 2003 and 2006, YANQ Training delivered Certificate 4 and Diploma in Youth Work courses to Youth Workers around the State.
History of our Values and Vision
In 1999, YANQ underwent the initial review into the first 10 years of operations. What came out of this critical process was that a more consistent approach to YANQ's work was needed – in short, an organisational values base was required. This values base was developed over the next year and was incorporated into the Constitution and consciously into YANQ's work for the next decade.
In 2012, we finalised an updated version of this Vision and Values document. These new values are based on a bedrock of engagement and learning from Aboriginal communities and culture, and reworking YANQ's organisational processes to incorporate these lessons. You can read the full values and vision document here.