In spite of this, the Government has appointed QCOSS, apparently without QCOSS's knowledge, to fill the role of peak body for the youth sector. YANQ is deeply concerned that QCOSS cannot adequately represent the interests of the youth sector - or, in fact, fulfil all the roles of a peak body for the entire non-government community services.
1. To ask you to write to the government asking them to reinstate the funding for YANQ as the state peak for Queensland's young people.
2. As a QCOSS member, to question QCOSS's decision to undermine support of the youth sector by accepting the government's proposal for QCOSS to act as the sole peak body for the entire community sector. Please cc YANQ into your communications at 30 Thomas Street, West End, 4101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. If you are a member of the Futures Forum, work with YANQ to unite the sector the represent marginalised people.
For the past 23 years, YANQ has been the peak body for the youth sector in Queensland. YANQ was formed in the late 1980s due to the absence of adequate sector support and representation on youth issues. YANQ was established as a peak body by youth workers to focus entirely on the youth sector and respond to, and advocate for, the interests of young people - particularly marginalised and disadvantaged young people.
Over the years, YANQ has developed a statewide network of youth services to support its policy development and workforce development, with active regional participation throughout Queensland. In particular, YANQ has established relationships with small community organisations, and developed strong networks in rural and remote areas, including many Aboriginal communities. YANQ offers a sophisticated, up-to-date understanding of young people's culture, issues and needs. YANQ has the capacity to provide informed, evidence-based advice to government about what does and doesn't work in youth service provision - in urban, rural and remote Queensland, and for different groups of young people. YANQ's sound understanding of priority issues and needs across the youth sector is derived from many years of listening to youth organisations, workers and young people themselves. YANQ is the only mechanism in Queensland with the means to respond effectively to local, state and federal youth policy issues. For more information on YANQ history and our role as the youth sector peak body visit www.yanq.org.au
QCOSS does not have the capacity to function as a peak for the whole NGO sector. QCOSS cannot genuinely engage with the breadth of the sector - particularly when service users are included. The Queensland community services sector is very diverse and QCOSS has struggled to represent the overall non-government sector for many years. How can QCOSS, after their recent funding cut, accept a responsibility that they are not capable of delivering? How can QCOSS represent the entire non-government community services sector and fulfil all the roles of a peak body? (See YANQ's report on What is a Peak Body? at http://www.yanq.org.au/our-work/414-what-is-a-peak-body)
YANQ is very disappointed with QCOSS's decision to await government direction to take on (supposed) representation of the youth sector. This QCOSS decision will significantly diminish the voice of the youth sector. The broader community services industry has every reason to be concerned that there will not be a state funded specialist voice for the youth sector - if QCOSS allocates resources to addressing youth issues in a genuine way, this will detract from their ability to act on issues affecting other parts of the non-government community sector which were already being serviced by QCOSS.
QCOSS members must decide the future role of QCOSS. Should QCOSS function as a government advisory body and undermine other peaks? Or, should QCOSS facilitate the voice of the sector - respecting, supporting and working alongside other peaks?
We still have an opportunity to bring the sector together and to be a strong and united voice for non-government community services and our service users. But this will require a high level of cooperation between NGOs and specialist peaks, driven by a commitment to advocate for the interests of marginalised people at a policy level. YANQ has been calling for collective action by peaks and remains committed to any genuine collaborative process that focuses on defending the rights of all Queenslanders.
Let's have an open and honest discussion. Let's use this opportunity to learn from the recent history of NGOs and peaks in Queensland. We are going through extraordinary times... whatever we lose now may take decades to recover. Let us commence an open debate that can constructively contribute to shaping the sector for years to come.
In the past week YANQ has made several requests for QCOSS to stand by YANQ but unfortunately we have not received any assurance from QCOSS that they will respect the autonomy of YANQ and its members. YANQ is happy to share our correspondence exchange with QCOSS with any interested party.
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