Relational youth work.

I have been in contact with a youth worker lately who is currently writing a book about relational youth work. In our correspondence and discussions I have realised again the immense privilege and responsibility of youth work. Ours is a profession of relationship. Without the trust and respect that comes with the sharing of life youth work is nothing but case management. Relational youth work is at the core of great youth work. It is who we are as practitioners.
Today in a supervision session I encouraged a youth worker that her building relationships with severely disengaged young people was more important than trying to link them to employment options. This youth worker had heard the opposite. From managers and other service professional this woman had been told that relationships came second to KPI’s. Our work is being eroded by a neoliberalist agenda which focuses on outcomes and finances over relationship. If we allow our core work to be tainted by this agenda then we will continue to see our young people struggle.
Relational youth work
At Ultimate Youth Worker we believe so wholly in relationship that we added ‘deep engagement‘ to our pillars of practice. The short term solutions-focussed interventions that the government has been insisting on haven’t worked. The only way youth work ticks its KPI’s properly is if deep relationships underpin interventions. We need more engagement in youth work, not less. We need youth workers who reach out to young people with a focus on developing relationship before ticking boxes. We need more relational youth work. We all know this fundamental practice needs to become front and centre in our practice again.
What is one thing you can do to develop a stronger, deeper relationship with your young people this week? How can we become more relational in our work?

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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One Comment

  1. Great post – I was only recently sharing with a new Youth Worker the importance of relationships – have forwarded your email,thanks.

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