In recent times, we have seen a tidal wave of destruction break over the youth sector, with serious consequences for young people - particularly those living in rural areas with limited access to services, and disadvantaged young people throughout Queensland. Many highly successful youth programs have been defunded over the past 15 months. Those remaining, many of whom were already operating on shoestring budgets, have faced funding cuts. Coupled with cuts to frontline services more widely, this has put a great strain on youth services and reduced their capacity to respond to the growing demand for services by young people themselves and other service providers. As the sector's peak body, it is YANQ's responsibility to strongly resist the negative ramifications of these processes.
Small and medium size youth services have generally built strong connections to the local and regional communities they are part of, over many years. These services deserve acknowledgment and support from the Government for the tremendous work they do within such limited resources.
The Queensland Government has an opportunity to build on the work of...
This rationalisation also devalues the achievements of existing services by imposing unrealistic efficiency measures and requiring narrower outcomes. This fails to recognise the need to build trusting relationships with young people as a prerequisite to effective service delivery, and the central role of responding to young people's own perception of their needs in service success. Denial of the importance of the less measurable aspects of youth work can only lead to service provision 'on paper', which has little or no sustained VALUE for young people and will not ultimately achieve government objectives.
In short, existing services are able to provide more efficient and effective services for young people than any business-driven model of service. The only priority of youth organisations is to provide quality services to their communities - they are unencumbered by the need to generate profit. Funding existing non-government, not-for-profit, community-based, youth organisations is the best way to achieve a coherent system of efficient and effective support for young people throughout Queensland.
Instead of providing such greatly needed support, the Queensland Government has dramatically reduced the available funds, and plans to 'redistribute' the few resources left in the Youth Portfolio. Despite the high levels of demand for their services, many organisations are now at risk of losing their funding completely, or at the very least, have their youth work positions subsumed within mainstream positions which will not have the specific skills necessary to work effectively with young people.
YANQ therefore demands that the Queensland Government listen to the voices of young people, youth workers and youth services from across Queensland as detailed in the Listening to Queensland's Youth Sector report presented to the Government by YANQ earlier this year. Based on extensive consultation with the youth sector in 2012, this report provides a clear alternate framework for effective and efficient youth service delivery. The proposed approach would strengthen existing youth organisations by creating regional 'youth sector hubs' which can assist youth services in all parts of Queensland to network, share and enhance practice frameworks, and meet their workforce and professional development needs.
Building on the existing strengths of the youth sector would pay significant dividends - to both young people themselves and government. Reinstatement of funding lost to the youth sector over the past 15 months, and development of these 'hubs' would make a major contribution to improving the sector's ability to achieve VALUE for money.
YANQ also calls on the Queensland Council of Social Services (QCOSS), which has recently partnered with the LNP Government in the re-commissioning of the youth sector, to declare their position on funding of existing youth services. The adversarial, competitive, open-tender system being proposed by the Government will inevitably undermine collaboration. We call on QCOSS to act in the interest of young people - Queensland's next generation - through actively supporting YANQ's sector-informed position.