How to become a Youth Worker

Youth workers work with and support young people, either individually or in groups, by developing and facilitating programmes that address social, behavioural, welfare, developmental and protection needs.

Personal requirements of a Youth Worker

  • Able to take initiative
  • Leadership qualities
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Able to work independently
  • A non-judgmental attitude
  • Able to plan and organise

Education & Training for a Youth Worker

To become a youth worker you usually have to complete a VET qualification in youth work, youth justice, community services or child, youth and family intervention. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a youth worker through a traineeship in Youth Work, Youth Justice, Community Services or Child, Youth and Family Intervention. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school. Alternatively, you can become a youth worker by completing a degree in social science, social work, social welfare, counselling, human services, youth work or a related field. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. See the separate entries for Community Worker, Social Worker and Welfare Worker for further information.

Duties & Tasks of a Youth Worker

Youth workers may perform the following tasks:

  • interview young people to identify problems and act as advocates (representatives) for them, raising these issues with relevant government authorities
  • advocate for young people who have a grievance with government departments or other organisations
  • assist with developing policies relating to young people
  • provide support and advice to young people experiencing difficulties, such as family problems, unemployment, illness, drug abuse and homelessness
  • arrange and provide counselling, food, shelter or clothing
  • assess risks and provide intensive short-term crisis counselling for victims of domestic violence or child abuse
  • arrange for the referral of clients to appropriate specialists or community agencies
  • provide information about community services and resources available for young people
  • plan, conduct and evaluate programs for young people in areas such as employment and training, education, self-development, accommodation, welfare and counselling
  • plan and organise activities such as sports, handicrafts, dancing, drama, hiking, bushwalking and holiday camps
  • establish and supervise youth clubs and small neighbourhood support groups in the local community
  • write reports and submissions requesting funding for continuing programs and new projects
  • evaluate data relating to the effectiveness of community support services
  • work closely with teachers, social and welfare workers, local authorities, health professionals, refuge workers, parents and, in some instances, the police.

Working conditions for a Youth Worker

Youth workers work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, corrective institutions, youth refuges, community centres and organisations such as Scouts, Guides, YWCA and YMCA. They also work in places where young people congregate, including shopping centres, parks and reserves. Youth workers often work unsupervised and much of their work takes place outside normal hours.

Employment Opportunities for a Youth Worker

Youth workers are mainly employed in social welfare organisations and government departments that provide community services. There is considerable demand for this occupation, although employment opportunities and job security are often dependent on government funding.

Specialisations:


Accommodation Worker

An accommodation worker assists young people living in supported accommodation environments, including crisis services, hostels, shared housing and independent accommodation.


Detached (Street Based) Youth Worker

A detached (street based) youth worker builds working relationships with young people in public spaces such as parks, shopping centres or on the streets. Young people are then provided with information and support to meet their needs.


Drug and Alcohol Worker

A drug and alcohol worker provides support to young people looking to decrease or stop using drugs and alcohol when it becomes a problem for them. They may work in rehabilitation centres, counselling services, health services or in other community settings.


Family Support Worker

A family support worker works with families experiencing financial, relationship or other difficulties. They offer practical help, emotional support and advice about coping strategies, so as to allow children to stay with their families rather than be placed under the care of the state.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,000

Future growth:

very strong growth

Employment by state:

ACT 2%

NSW 34.2%

NT 3.1%

QLD 17.4%

SA 8.7%

TAS 2.3%

VIC 19.1%

WA 13.2%

Hours worked:

34.6

Unemployment:

average

Gender split:

Proportion of male workers 33.2%

Proportion of female workers 66.8%

Education level:

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 10: 0%

Proportion of workers who have not completed Year 12: 5.8%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is secondary school: 17.3%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 24.6%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 21.7%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 22.1%

Proportion of workers whose highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 8.5%

Age bracket:

Proprortion of workers aged below 35 years: 32.7%

Proportion of workers aged above 35 years: 67.2%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

Additional Information
Introductory training is available as a volunteer through Scouts, Guides, church groups and special welfare programs (Youthlink, Lifeline or YMCA/YWCA, for example). In addition, some employment agencies offer in-service training for new employees in areas such as street work, counselling, group work and information services. To become a member of the Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA) you need to complete an approved degree or 2-year diploma in community services work, human services community welfare, community development or a similar discipline that is approved by ACWA. Contact the association (www.acwa.org.au) for further information and a current list of approved courses. You will need to undergo a Working with Children Check and be prepared to deal with vulnerable people.
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