Child Rights

Podcast 036: Child Rights

Child Rights

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘Child Rights’ Aaron and Jessy give us some insight into the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child and how youth workers can use the articles within it to sharpen their practice.


Child Rights

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 and was entered into force 2 September 1990.

The fifty-four articles contained in the convention form the basis of many of the legislative frameworks relating to young people in Australia such as the Child Youth and Families ACT (2005) in Victoria and the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. As youth workers it is important for us to understand the articles and reflect on how they influence our practice.

Youth work has long fought for the rights of young people. Our very existence is based on the inextricable fact that young people have rights above and beyond the rights we all have as human beings. Our Codes of Ethics point towards child rights throughout the documents. Our practice frameworks look to empowering young people to understand their rights. In short youth work is a rights driven profession.

Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast:

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National Principles for child safe organisations

Podcast 035: National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
A summary of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘National Principles for Child Safe Organisations’ Aaron gives us an overview of the ten principles and where they came from. As youth workers our sector has always championed the rights of the child however there hasn’t been a standard that we all were required to meet. The National Principles are a guiding document for all of us in how we are to work with children and young people in Australia.


In 2017 the Australian Government asked the National Children’s Commissioner to lead the development of National Principles for Child Safe Organisations as part of  the Child Safe Organisations project. The Australian Government also commissioned the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop practical tools to help organisations implement the National Principles.

The National Principles were developed under the guidance of Community Services Ministers across Commonwealth, state and territory governments under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. The ten National Principles respond to recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The National Principles aim to provide a consistent approach to developing organisational cultures of child safety and wellbeing throughout Australia. This will help to keep children and young people safe and mitigate future harm in organisational settings.

The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations reflect the ten child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission, with a broader scope that covers all forms of harm to children and young people.

In June 2018, the Australian Government tabled its response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations. As one element of its response, the Australian Government established the National Office for Child Safety in July 2018. As of February 2019, the National Principles were endorsed by members of the Council of Australian Governments, including the Prime Minister and State Premiers and Territory First Ministers.


The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

1. Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.

This principle provides guidance on the role of organisational leadership and governance in promoting inclusive and welcoming environments for children and young people, a culture of accountability and the ways in which a child safe culture is developed and maintained.

Adoption of this principle shows that the organisation has a commitment to child safety and wellbeing through all levels of the organisation. Governance arrangements are transparent and include a child safety and wellbeing policy, practice guidance, a Code of Conduct and a risk management framework. Governance arrangements vary depending on the type, nature and size of an organisation. Organisational leadership provides an authorising environment for the sharing of information about risks to children and young people.

2. Children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.

This principle describes an organisational culture that supports children and young people to understand what child safety and wellbeing means. They are informed about their rights and responsibilities in an age appropriate way. They contribute and actively participate in building an organisational culture that is safe for them.

Children and young people know about the organisation’s commitment to child safety and wellbeing and access relevant information and programs. They recognise safe environments and understand protective strategies. In such environments, children and young people feel comfortable participating in decisions and communicating their views and concerns. Ultimately, however, the responsibility for child safety and wellbeing in an organisation rests with the organisation and its workers.

Staff and volunteers value and respect children and young people’s identity and culture, are comfortable and skilled in engaging with them, understand their developmental needs and build on children and young people’s strengths and capacities.

3. Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.

This principle outlines the range of ways an organisation can involve families and the community in its approach to child safety and wellbeing, relevant policies and practices and the provision of accessible information. This will help inform parents and carers about safeguarding children and young people and encourage their feedback and input. They will be empowered to speak up and drive conversations regarding child safety and wellbeing and how and when they can raise issues and concerns.

Families have the primary responsibility for the upbringing of their child, and are aware of their children’s primary protective networks. There is wide variety in the structure of families, the role different family members may play in a child’s life, their backgrounds and cultures. Families and carers are best placed to advise about their children’s needs and capabilities and can inform organisations about practices and environments that are safe for their children and young people. In a safe environment, children, young people, family and community members feel that their culture and identity are respected.

4. Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.

This principle examines how recognition of children and young people’s diverse circumstances enables an organisation to work in a more child centred way and empowers children and young people to participate more effectively. This builds an organisational culture that acknowledges the strengths and individual characteristics of children, and embraces all children regardless of their abilities, sex, gender, or social, economic and cultural background. A welcoming organisation is one where all children and young people feel comfortable and where services are provided in culturally safe and inclusive ways. This reduces the risk of discrimination, exclusion, bullying and abuse.

5. People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.

This principle describes recruitment and staff development policies, including appropriate screening, that are a foundation of child safe organisations. This principle also includes induction training, understanding child safety responsibilities and cultural safety concepts, and appropriate supervision of staff and volunteers. Reporting obligations, training in record keeping and information sharing provide staff and volunteers with the relevant practice tools to better safeguard children and young people.

6. Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused.

This principle provides guidance on how human resource management policies and practices and effective complaints management processes should be accessible, responsive to and understood by children and young people, families, staff and volunteers. Complaint management processes will be linked to the Code of Conduct and provide details about where breaches of the Code have occurred. Training will help staff and volunteers to recognise and respond to neglect, grooming and other forms of harm, provide appropriate support to children and young people in these instances and meet legal requirements. This includes training to assist in responding to different types of complaints, privacy considerations, listening skills, disclosures of harm and reporting obligations.

7. Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.

This principle emphasises the importance of information, ongoing education and training for staff and volunteers. Staff and volunteers build on their knowledge and skills and evidence-based practice tools through professional seminars and memberships, supervised peer discussions, team training days and access to research and publications. This ensures staff and volunteers develop awareness and insights into their attitudes towards children and young people, and have a contemporary understanding of child development, safety and wellbeing. They will be able to identify indicators of child harm, respond effectively to children and young people and their families and support their colleagues.

Staff and volunteers are able to respond in culturally appropriate ways to children and young people who disclose or show signs that they are experiencing harm outside the organisation. Staff and volunteers are trained in the rights of children and young people in relation to record keeping, and the possible uses and audiences for records that may be created.

8. Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.

This principle highlights that reducing the risk of harm in physical and online environments is an important preventative mechanism. Risk management strategies clarify potential risks where adult to child or child to child interactions occur, or where the physical environment is unsafe. Technological platforms within organisations provide valuable tools in education, communication and help seeking. Risks associated with these platforms are minimised through all necessary means, including: education of children and young people, parents, staff and volunteers about expectations of online behaviour; the application of safety filters; and communication protocols.

9. Implementation of the national child safe principles is regularly reviewed and improved.

This principle emphasises that child safe organisations seek to continuously improve their delivery of child safe services and their operations. They also conduct reviews to ensure that organisational policies and procedures, including record keeping practices, are being implemented by staff and volunteers. The participation and involvement of staff, volunteers, children and young people, families and community mentors in these reviews will strengthen the organisation’s child safeguarding capacities. This includes the importance of reporting on the finding of reviews, and sharing good practice and learnings on a regular basis. Regular reviews ensure that organisations address new challenges or concerns that arise.

10. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

This principle outlines the importance of organisations having a clearly documented child safety and wellbeing policy. This will ensure all stakeholders, including organisational staff and volunteers, children and young people and their families and carers, are aware of how the organisation is planning to meet its obligations to create an environment that is safe for children. Partner agencies or organisations funded to provide services to children and young people should demonstrate adherence to child safety and wellbeing policies and practices.

Documenting policies and procedures ensures consistent application of child safe practices across the organisation. It also enables organisations to examine, through review processes, adherence to child safety and wellbeing principles and practices.


Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

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Raise the Age

Podcast 034: Raise the age

Raise the age

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘Raise the age’ Aaron speaks with Jessica Sanders from Jesuit Social Services ‘Worth a Second Chance‘ project about how we can understand the legal issue of the age of criminal responsibility and how we might support the campaign to raise it from 10 years of age.


Jessica Sanders

Jess is an author, advocate and social worker from Melbourne, Australia. She is incredibly passionate about social justice and supporting young people to be their best selves. Jess has supported Aboriginal women and children fleeing family violence. Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in alliance with African Women fighting for their rights to land and provided workshops to children teaching the importance of consent and respect for self and others. Today Jess manages a youth justice campaign that elevates the stories of young people in the justice system and advocates to create a justice system that uses a therapeutic approach as opposed to a punitive one.


Raise the age

Everyone knows that children do best when they are supported, nurtured and loved. But across Australia, children as young as 10 can be arrested by police, charged with an offence, hauled before a court and locked away in a prison. It’s time for the federal, state and territory governments to do what’s right and change the laws to raise the age, so children aged 10 to 13 years are not sent to prison. Children belong in classrooms and playgrounds, not in handcuffs, courtrooms or prison cells.

Medical experts say that children’s brains are still developing, especially the parts that regulate judgement, decision-making and impulse control. This means that kids cannot foresee the consequences of any action and cannot fully understand the criminal nature of their behaviour. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on countries to raise the age to at least 14 years old. China, Russia, Germany, Spain, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Rwanda have taken this step and we must do the same for Australian kids.

In just one year across Australia close to 600 children aged 10 to 13 years were locked up and thousands more were hauled through the criminal legal system. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are disproportionately impacted by these laws and pushed into prison cells at even higher rates, accounting for 65 per cent of these younger children in prisons. There has been a chorus of calls both nationally and internationally from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, expert United Nations bodies, human rights organisations, medical and legal bodies, and academics for Australia to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

Children need to be loved and supported so they can reach their full potential. Not locked up.

Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

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Cultural Intelligence

Podcast 033: Cultural Intelligence PART 2

Cultural Intelligence

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘Cultural Intelligence PART 2’ Aaron continues to speak with Gregg Morris from Mahana Culture about how we can begin to gain some Cultural Intelligence. As youth workers we have a developing Intelligence or IQ eg. theory that informs our youth work practice. We have good Emotional Intelligence which lets us understand our young peoples feelings and how to respond to them appropriately. Yet we do not spend enough time thinking about Cultural Intelligence. Today Gregg helps us to begin understanding our Cultural Tale.


Gregg Morris has worked as an educator, youth worker, lecturer and community development practitioner with a broad range of vulnerable community groups  in New Zealand and Australia, for more than twenty years. In his role as chief cultural intelligence researcher, training facilitator and cultural supervisor at Mahana, Gregg’s passion for cultural justice enables him to assist others to explore their own cultural tale, as well as support organisations to adopt a culturally responsive lens. In recent times, he has come to appreciate how a person’s cultural resilience can strengthen their sense of wellbeing.

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence completes the sociological and psychological circle of human development that begins with mental or intellectual intelligence (IQ). IQ is best known as a standardised measure of cognitive ability. It’s also the foundation on which emotional intelligence (EQ), rests, where EQ defines your ability to recognise and manage your emotions, and identify others’, in a social setting. IQ and EQ are essential to cultural intelligence. If you possess reasonable levels of both (AS YOUTH WORKERS DO), you are more likely to have a reasonable CQ level as well.

Cultural intelligence is a relatively new phenomenon. CQ researchers Soon Ang and Lin Van Dyne coined the term in the early 2000s, and David Livermore expanded on it in his book Leading With Cultural Intelligence. Between them, they have identified four capabilities:

CQ drive (or motivation)

CQ drive measures willingness and confidence to operate effectively in culturally diverse environments.

CQ-knowledge (or cognition)

CQ knowledge gauges awareness of cultural similarities and differences across business, interpersonal values, beliefs, and customs, and social, verbal and physical exchanges.

CQ strategy (or meta-cognition)

CQ strategy awareness of cultural diversity, and the skills to plan for and adjust to cultural experiences outside expectations.

CQ action (or behaviour)

CQ action evaluates how well or poorly subjects’ verbal and non-verbal performances impact on each other.

In this podcast we continue with Gregg to begin to understand our own generational cultural tale, a concept from Sioux Indian Martin Brokenleg, by unpacking our BLOOD, BIRTH and CHOICE. By understanding who we are are we can better show curiosity for who others are… a key concept in Cultural Intelligence.

Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

  • Mahana Culture (Check out the Mahana website for training and articles around Cultural Intelligence)
  • Martin Brokenleg
  •  If you want to explore these ideas personally we can help through the Ultimate Supervision Service

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

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To help out the show:

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Cultural Intelligence

Podcast 032: Cultural Intelligence Part 1

Cultural Intelligence

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘Cultural Intelligence PART 1’ Aaron speaks with Gregg Morris from Mahana Culture about how we can begin to gain some Cultural Intelligence. As youth workers we have a developing Intelligence or IQ eg. theory that informs our youth work practice. We have good Emotional Intelligence which lets us understand our young peoples feelings and how to respond to them appropriately. Yet we do not spend enough time thinking about Cultural Intelligence. Today Gregg helps us to begin understanding our Cultural Tale.


Gregg Morris has worked as an educator, youth worker, lecturer and community development practitioner with a broad range of vulnerable community groups  in New Zealand and Australia, for more than twenty years. In his role as chief cultural intelligence researcher, training facilitator and cultural supervisor at Mahana, Gregg’s passion for cultural justice enables him to assist others to explore their own cultural tale, as well as support organisations to adopt a culturally responsive lens. In recent times, he has come to appreciate how a person’s cultural resilience can strengthen their sense of wellbeing.

Cultural Dignity

The basis of good Cultural Intelligence Gregg tells us is the ideology of dignity. At our very least and poorest we know, or should know, we are worthy of honour and respect. Cultures, religions, and social movements the world over, uphold the central notion of dignity, from the sacred potential of childbirth, to the reverence of age, and the mourning associated with death. We thrive in the presence of dignity, and falter in its absence.

As civilisation continues to advance, and our knowledge of other cultures grows, the world around us shrinks. Dignity is an unalienable birthright, a gift we universally celebrate. Dignity is the moral foundation on which we as human beings survive, live, and thrive. Only aberrant cultures like Nazism deny it. Dignity and courage in the end defeat them.

But for all our vigilance, indignity is never far away. It begins with comparisons and judgements that we as humans are too often unable to resist. Our unconscious wants to believe that one culture — usually ours — is superior to another — usually theirs. These judgements lie at the heart of all the isms: racism, sexism, ageism, and many more, all parcelled together into a box that we might term otherism.

To preserve our cultural dignity and to become more Culturally Intelligent, we need to understand other cultures, not just our own. That understanding has to rest on the unshakeable belief that every human is intrinsically worthy and valuable. Only then can we begin to grasp our own biases and blockages, and see them as the impediments that obstruct otherwise rewarding human relationships.

As youth workers our work is based on the ideology of human rights which are guided by the idea that every human has dignity and is worthy of that dignity being given to them. We often work with young people who have had their dignity harmed or totally disregarded. One way we can help to restore it is to be Culturally Intelligent.

Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

  • Mahana Culture (Check out the Mahana website for training and articles around Cultural Intelligence)
  • Martin Brokenleg
  •  If you want to explore these ideas personally we can help through the Ultimate Supervision Service

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Share this cast with a friend or colleague.
  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Share this show on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help the podcast and I read each one.
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Podcast 031: Self-Care 201 – The Wheel of Life.

Wheel of Life

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘Self Care 201’ Aaron chats with us about how we can take our self care journey to the next level. We have run self care training using our balanced life framework for eight years and in almost every session some says something along the lines of this is too basic and we want something more. We usually ask them if they are implementing all the steps we talk about in the level one training and if they have been doing it for at least two years. Most people tell us that they have given it a go and that they had dropped the ball. It is important to get the basics right before moving on to the next level otherwise you will have the same trouble at this level. For the rare youth worker who has got the basics down we send them along to look at the ‘Wheel of life’


In Youth Work, we often speak about having a “toolbox” to help us become a more rounded person and provide the best possible service to our young people. This could be in the form of a literal box of “tools” always sitting in your work vehicle. Such as toys, books or sports equipment that you can pull out at any time to de-escalate or engage a young person you’re working with. Other items that enhance our toolbox are things that encourage us to grow and learn, such as “self-care cards”, which can be useful to start conversations in supervision or with other colleagues.

We’re no strangers to self-care activities here at Ultimate Youth Worker and you’ve probably spent some time reading one of our many past articles on the topic. Today we are stepping it up a notch and introducing you to the ‘wheel of life’.

Wheel of life

The wheel of life is very similar to our first ever podcast on self-care, where we talk about the self-care stool. However, we are taking it to another level this time and working on eight areas of life that we want to improve.

Wheel of Life

This is the wheel of life. Well, one version of it. There are many different wheels that have existed over the years, some people even suggesting the original wheel of life was created by the Buddha to teach his followers the eight-fold path to enlightenment. The modern day purpose of the wheel of life is the same, whether you call it enlightenment, wholeness, balance or even flow. When a wheel is not balanced, it will struggle to move freely and with ease… See it is all about balance.


Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

Wheel of life

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

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Podcast 030: Self Care in Youth Work

Self Care in Youth Work

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘Self Care in Youth Work’ Aaron chats with Ex-Student Panel about self care in youth work. How do youth work practitioners leave work at work? Do relationships, boundaries and practices change when we engage in self care? What supports do youth workers need to be effective at self care? What happens when things go pear shaped?


Self Care in Youth Work

Youth work is all about relationships. We pride ourselves on being able to create and maintain positive relationships with young people where they can grow into the people they want to be. We focus so much of our attention on supporting young people by carrying their baggage while they scale their own developmental mountains. We are like Sherpas. This means we have to make sure we look out for ourselves so we can provide the best possible support (we need to be able to carry that load) to our young people.

If we don’t look after ourselves ultimately we can do more damage to our young people. Walking into the room burned out, frustrated, and with low tolerance to the difficulties life throws at us is not what our young people need from us. In order to give our best, we need to be at our best. This takes training and persistence. Self-care is not sexy. It is a long and difficult process that has its rewards in the journey and at the top of the mountain.

SO what have four youth workers learnt about self care in the day-in day-out struggles of the job after a few years in the field? How do they leave work at work and look out for their own self care?


Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Share this cast with a friend or colleague.
  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Share this show on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help the podcast and I read each one.
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Before you go…

Online Youth Work

Podcast 028: Online Youth Work

Online Youth Work

Online Youth Work

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘Online Youth Work’ Aaron chats with Wolfgang Vachon from the C2YPodcast about youth work in the virtual realm. How do youth work practitioners work in the virtual realm? Do relationships, boundaries and practices change when interacting with young people online? What supports are available for youth workers online? What does an intervention look like when you have only met the young person virtually?


 

Its testing times for youth work globally. Austerity measures have cut us down and a global pandemic has crippled us. Yet, youth workers are a resilient bunch. We make do with what we have. Recently that has meant moving to the online space to continue building relationships with our young people.

This has been a trying time for many of us. The technical issues, having the right equipment and getting the ok to use different programs from management have all but scared us from the process. For others we dove in with abandon and used everything we could get our hands on…damn the IT Policies. So what does this mean for good youth work practice?

Well, thats the million dollar question. We probably wont know how effective we have been for a long time yet. However, we should find that doing online youth work has been based on our theoretical approach to youth work as usual. Young people are still our primary consideration, We still have a duty of care to exercise, we still have to think about privacy and confidentiality, there are still boundaries and it is reliant on cooperation and collaboration to name but a few of our ethical considerations.


Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Share this cast with a friend or colleague.
  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Share this show on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help the podcast and I read each one.
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Before you go…

I want to quit

Podcast 027: I want to quit

I want to quit

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘I want to quit’ Aaron speaks to us about how to resign from a youth work position well. Regularly at Ultimate Youth Worker we speak with people who are ready to move on from the position they are in. It may be that they are moving on to greener pastures and with the blessing of their manager or it may be that they hate where they work and already have a foot out the door. All of these people get a conversation about how to resign well and now we will give you that information too.


In testing times people have one of two ideas about their job. They either dig in and stick it out or they throw in the towel and say ‘I want to quit’. We are currently in testing times with the corona virus spread throughout the world and we know that there are youth workers who are ready to quit. When there is an economic downturn we see people hold on to their jobs tightly. When there is an upturn we see people move on. So how do we resign well? There are three stages…

  • Prepare to resign
  • Resign
  • Act professionally in the interim

Prepare to resign

  • The process will take 6 weeks!
  • Have 6 weeks cash in the bank
  • Make sure you have the other job first
  • Assume you will be shown the door straight away
  • Prepare a transition file
  • Make a bunch of lunch appointments
  • TELL NO ONE!!!

Resign (don’t quit)

  • Don’t resign in writing
  • Do it privately and with your boss
  • Never resign in anger
  • Say nothing negative…EVER
  • Say it the right way (don’t say ‘I want to quit’
  • You don’t have to answer any questions
  • Be ready to leave immediately
  • Take your transition file with you
  • TELL NO ONE!!!

Act professionally in the interim

  • Expect a counter offer
  • Expect to become disenfranchised and ostracised
  • Expect to work hard during this period
  • You should go home on time too
  • Do not say anything during your exit interview
  • Solidify your network

Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

  • Share this cast with a friend or colleague.
  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Share this show on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help the podcast and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

Before you go…

Debriefing after an incident

Podcast 029: Debriefing after an incident

Critical incident debrief

Critical Incident Debrief

In this episode of the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast ‘Online Youth Work’ Aaron chats with us about how to conduct a critical incident debrief. We look at two models and unpack how individuals and teams can best use the debriefing process to look after themselves and reflect on the best ways forward.


As youth workers we find ourselves working with young people when they are at the best and when they are in their darkest places. When they are at their best we feel a sense of pride and live on the mountaintop. When they are in their darkest place we can see them in the depths of pain and the heights of anger. In their darkest place young people can be prone to making rash decisions. Sometimes, this can lead to young people lashing out, running away or in extreme cases they may harm themselves.

When a young person lashes out or injures themselves as youth workers we find ourselves in the midst of critical incidents. We deal with the circumstances as best we can. We keep as many people safe as we can. We provide first aid to those who need it. We call on emergency services such as the police or ambulance officers as the need arises. After all is said and done we find ourselves in front of the computer. Writing up an incident report.

What could have been hours of our lives, probably on our own, whittled down to a few pages in the hands of bureaucrats. For most of us that is about where it finishes. If you are lucky you may get to chat it over with your Team Leader or Manager who may even recommend that you use an Employee Assistance Program. Unfortunately, many EAP’s do not understand the work that youth workers are involved in and the sessions end up being less than useless. What we really need in this situation is a proper critical incident debrief.

At Ultimate Youth Worker we work with many organisations to implement a strong Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) framework. We use and train others to use two different yet important models within a wider (CISM), the After Action Review and the Critical Incident Stress Debrief.

After Action Review

An After Action Review (AAR) is a process used by teams to recognise and understand the lessons learned from successes and failures, with the goal of improving future performance. It is an opportunity for a team to reflect on an incident, activity, event or task so that they can do even better the next time. AARs should be carried out with an open spirit and without blame. The Army use the phrase “leave your rank at the door” to remove blocks to involvement whilst optimising learning through the process. One member of the group facilitates, capturing results on a flip chart or in a document.

After Action Review is a form of group reflection where participants review four things:

  • what was intended
  • what actually happened
  • why it happened and
  • what was learned.

Critical Incident Stress Debrief

Critical Incident Stress Debrief is narrowly defined in scope and intent as part of a more comprehensive CISM. CISD is strategically focused on the detailed disclosure of facts, thoughts, and emotional reactions and sensory material linked to a particular traumatic event (or “incident”). It is often seen in the literature as psychological first aid and is generally carried out within 48 hours after an incident. This is not counselling or psychotherapy (however that may be part of a fully developed CISM).

The steps to a Critical Incident Stress Debrief include:

  1. Assess (audit) the impact of the critical incident on support personnel and survivors
  2. Identify immediate issues surrounding problems involving “safety” and “security”
  3. Use defusing to allow for the ventilation of thoughts, emotions, and experiences associated with the event and provide “validation” of possible reactions
  4. Predict events and reactions to come in the aftermath of the event
  5. Conduct a “Systematic Review of the Critical Incident” and its impact emotionally, cognitively, and physically on survivors. Look for maladaptive behaviours or responses to the crisis or trauma
  6. Bring “closure” to the incident “anchor” or “ground” support personnel and survivors to community resources to initiate or start the rebuilding process (help identify possible positive experiences from the event)
  7. Debriefing assists in the “re-entry” process back into the community or workplace. Debriefing can be done in large or small groups or one-to-one depending on the situation. Debriefing is not a critique but a systematic review of the events leading to, during, and after the crisis.

Today’s resources

Here are links to some articles and training that have bearing on todays podcast.

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