yourtown provides a national voice for young people to ensure they are valued, their human rights respected, and their needs and issues acknowledged in social policy.
Our work with young people brings with it the responsibility of leveraging our knowledge of their experiences to bring about systemic change.
Kids Helpline and Help Seeking: Past, present and future
In 2016, the inaugural Kids Helpline (KHL) Symposium took place at the Human Right’s Commission, Sydney.
This landmark event not only shared what we had learnt over 25 years of KHL but brought together a panel of experts hosted by the National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell to discuss the future of help seeking in Australia. On the table was how KHL had evolved and where we could go next both in terms of service delivery and in national policy agendas affecting the wellbeing of children and young people.
“Kids Helpline makes it easy and okay for children and young people to seek help when they need it. This vital, confidential service for kids is available anytime of the day or night and has no doubt saved the lives of many children and young people over the years.”
Social Procurement: Good for business, good for community
There are more than 50,000 young people in long-term unemployment across Australia and this is growing.
In 2017, yourtown invited thought leaders from businesses, universities and governments to join forces and promote social procurement and work enterprises to create more jobs for unemployed young people and build stronger communities.
Hosted by Lendlease in Sydney, guests included the Honourable Craig Laundy MP, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the University of New South Wales’ Professor Martin Loosemore and David Borger.
Our CEO Tracy Adams released yourtown’s position statement on long-term youth unemployment at the event, sharing our contemporary research about this issue as well as what we know from delivering services that have tackled youth unemployment for close to 20 years.
Preventing Suicide: The voice of young people
Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst 12-25 year old young people in Australia, yet discussion around this often precludes those who have lived experienced of this issue.
yourtown consulted 472 children and young people who had this experience, having thought about, planned or attempted suicide asking them about their help seeking experience. Their message was simple: Listen, don’t judge, care more.
We continue to share this invaluable research nationally.
This year this included presenting at the National Suicide Prevention Conference, working with Suicide Prevention Australia to develop the national Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention, and providing input into the Queensland Mental Health Commission’s revised Queensland Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
Spotlight on children traumatised by violence
It’s estimated that 54% of women who have experienced violence by a current partner had children in their care, with 31% of these seeing or hearing the violence.1
yourtown has operated a Family and Domestic Violence Accommodation Service for women and their children for 13 years. We called on frontline family and domestic violence services from across Queensland to a Children in Refuge Symposium to discuss contemporary approaches to supporting children traumatised by domestic violence.
The Honourable Yvette D’Ath MP, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills opened the event at Parliament House, Queensland. Key note speakers included child trauma specialists discussing the impact of trauma and the use of innovations such as yourtown’s expressive therapy program as a way of treating the effects of trauma.
1 Campo, M. (2015). ‘Children’s exposure to domestic and family violence: Key issues and responses’ (CFCA Paper No. 36). Melbourne: Child Family Community Australia information exchange, Australian Institute of Family Studies. Sourced from: https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/childrens-exposure-domestic-and-family-violence
Objectification and violence is never OK
Children’s exposure to pornography has dramatically increased as a result of access to digital technology. The nature of pornography has also changed, with mainstream pornography containing aggression and violence, mostly directed towards women.
This year yourtown continued to advocate strongly about this issue. In response to media reports of thousands of graphic images of school-aged girls posted and traded online, we highlighted the significant impact increased availability of pornography and objectification of women is having on young people.
Early education for young people about respectful relationships is urgently needed as is skills development in children and young people that helps them critically analyse sexualised media and empowers them to challenge gender stereotypes. These along with other strategies are critical to establishing behavioural standards that promote healthy communities.
We blend the voice of young people and a diverse range of expertise to create new, innovative and effective supports that empower children and young people to positively participate in the community.
yourtown continues to work with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) on the creative design of the Kids Helpline website to increase the reach and impact of self-help resources.
This year this has included co-design workshops with children and young people aged 12-25 to hear their views about what they need to develop and sustain positive emotional wellbeing. Two new digital tools are scheduled for release in 2018. This research has been partly funded by the Australian Research Council.
Construction industry and Indigenous engagement
One in eight jobs in Australia are related to the construction industry.
Keen to develop strategic plans for increasing the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, GROCON asked yourtown to look at how the construction industry can engage with Aboriginal communities to recruit, train and develop sustainable employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians. Our resulting research and the evaluation of existing programs will help inform the construction industry nationally.
Children and family law
Children who are exposed to court proceedings due to family conflict and associated issues understandably experience significant distress.
This year, the Children’s Committee for the Australian Family Law Court commissioned yourtown and Sydney University to identify what children like to talk about during and after a family court experience, how and what they hope to gain in support, and trial possible group digital support options for children in this situation. Funded by Family Law Practitioners Associations in Queensland and Western Australia, this project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.
Teens, pregnancy and parenting
In 2017, we responded to the National Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into the Impact of Pregnancy and Parenting on Teens and Young People.
Our submission included insights and recommendations based on Kids Helpline contacts from young people 13-17 years old about pregnancy, sexual behavior, contraception and young parenthood, and what we have learnt from other yourtown services that support pregnant teens and young parents.
NRL State of Mind
The mental health of boys and young men continues to be a concern in the Australian community with people in this group often unlikely to seek help or support if experiencing issues.
This year Kids Helpline continued its role as a coalition partner of the NRL State of Mind Campaign designed to create awareness about mental health issues and encourage boys and young men to seek support. Our work with the NRL included evaluating the outcomes of the campaign’s mental health education program delivered to grassroots Rugby League Clubs across Australia and New Zealand.