The first question, "What is important to you?" revealed a variety of responses, but a number of themes were immediately clear. The question was interpreted in a few different ways. Some saw the question as relating to YANQ's place in the community, and in relation to their own organisation. Others took a more personal approach. Some of the themes crossed both areas.
As a token of thanks for helping YANQ plan for its future, we offered respondents the chance to win one of five $30 book vouchers. The lucky winners of the vouchers are:
- Maren Strachen
- Jacqueline Pedersen
- Tina Hefford
- Jeff Cheverton
- Angela Dwyer
Thank you to all of you who filled out the survey. Your ideas and comments will be very useful as YANQ's Management Committee and staff begin developing our next strategic plan.
The first and probably most commonly raised issue was the need for strong networks and relationships, and for regular and clear information dissemination. Some respondents expressed a desire for better collaboration between organisations and government departments, and for stronger relationships between organisations. The word "partnerships" was mentioned several times, suggesting a desire for more interactive networking.
The Email Bulletin was mentioned, as a positive source of information. A general desire for up-to-date information on services and research was expressed.
Another common thread in this section was on social justice issues, including equality, fairness and criminal justice processes. Youth homelessness and housing issues, as well as drug abuse and education concerns were commonly tied into this theme. Respondents said that equality in the community was important, for all community members, including indigenous and young people. In particular, a desire for equality for disadvantaged youth was mentioned, and an increased emphasis on human rights and freedom.
Not surprisingly in the current financial climate, financial stability and job security were also high on the list of things that are important to us. This included a desire to see more effective or fair funding opportunities. Some examples were specific, such as "increased funding to provide Post Prison support programmes for young people up to 21 years of age" and others were more general. Fair wages for community workers was mentioned a few times, reflecting a general concern over job security in the face of funding cuts to the sector.
The final common theme was a desire for a strong advocacy movement. The point was raised that many organisations only have time and funding to work on what is in front of them, so a separate body was required to advocate on their behalf. Points such as "ensuring young people are on the political agenda in a positive light" and "a strong public voice for young people" demonstrate this theme. Research was often linked with this point, tying into the lack of time and funding faced by many organisations to collect necessary data.
Other points that came up in response to this question included "new, successful ways of engaging youth", "not being burnt out and [helping] staff who are on the way to break down", "early intervention" and "driving change and improving outcomes".
What is Important to Young People
The second question, "What is important to young people?" raised a number of the same points found in the responses to the first question. There were also a number of new, significant points. Foremost among them was the idea of belonging. This was raised in a number of contexts, including belonging to a family unit (or overcoming family issues), belonging to a community or peer group, being accepted and loved, and essentially having a place in the world.
Access to opportunities also came up regularly. This included opportunities for employment and housing as well as assistance with planning to make the most of the future. Access to services and support was closely linked with this theme.
Education, employment, housing, security, safety, fairness and respect were also listed as being important to young people. A couple of respondents also pointed out that the best way to know what is important to young people is to ask them directly.
Other points that come up reflected young people's desire to enjoy themselves: "sport, music, skateboarding, social networks, having fun, partying", "sex and relationships, independence", "money and possessions", "music sports and the arts, specifically visual media and internet life".
The final point that was raised more than once was hope. Hope for the future, hopes and dreams, and the safety and security of being allowed to have dreams.
The Future Shape of YANQ "How would you describe the future 'shape' of YANQ?" returned some very creative responses. The most popular shapes were a starfish (with young people and their concerns at the centre, and each arm representing ways to address these factors), an octopus (with the head making sense of all the different arms) and a tree with many branches (with different branches meaning different structures/ideologies with sub branches mixing and twining together offering shade and protection for the young people sitting beneath). Most of these interpretations approached a similar idea, that of a central point of contact with many branches (or arms or tentacles) moving independently, but towards common goals.
Other shapes included a flower (YANQ is the seed, the stalk connects with youth organisations at the centre of the flower, and the young people are the petals), the roof of a building (overlooking and providing protection to those beneath), a circle (with all parts being equal and the effects rippling outwards from the centre), a jellyfish (flexible and transparent), a burning spear (clear direction, spearing accountability), a pregnant woman (nurturing, giving birth to new ideas and guiding them to independence) and the Milky Way galaxy (a light or pathway that connect a vast range of services, young people, and agencies).
All responses demonstrated a significant place for YANQ, though our function and direction may vary.
The Height of YANQ Similarly, the final question "What is the height of YANQ?" resulted in varied replies. They ranged from "as high as the highest mountain" and "to infinity and beyond!" to "be realistic and cut back". In between were suggestions such as "grow tall, but stay focussed", "too high could mean a disconnection with those on the ground" and "the height already varies too much as it is - tall in Brisbane, but currently low in regional and rural areas".
Many responses seemed to suggest that YANQ should aim for a decent height, keeping in mind the realities of funding problems, and efficient uses of resources (including staff and management committee members). The general consensus was for YANQ to work within its limits, and not overstretch itself. Some respondents felt that YANQ should stay low, perhaps even lower than we are currently, and stay strong and spread out across the state. It was also stated that outcomes are more important than height.
Other Comments & Ideas A number of other points came up during the survey. Many were suggestions of things that YANQ should aim for. These included:
- a greater spread across the state.
- more visibility in the sector.
- conduct a skills analysis and restructure.
- stronger internet/cyber presence.
- more hands-on in the community, more interaction etc.
- do more consultation with the sector.
- connect with youth parliament or youth groups directly to have youth input.
- make young people more aware of social justice issues, get them involved in fighting discrimination and inequality.
- approach advocacy through academics and young people.
- create stronger connections in rural regions, perhaps through mergers or partnerships with existing agencies.
- keep an eye on the bigger picture at all times.
- host a conference or forum annually for sector workers.
- move beyond existing concept of 'peak body' and recreate from ground up.
YANQ's Management Committee will be meeting with staff in the next two weeks to start developing YANQ's next Strategic Plan. The ideas and comments above will be a great resource for those discussions.
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