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.
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.
Youth workers may perform the following tasks:
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.
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.
An accommodation worker assists young people living in supported accommodation environments, including crisis services, hostels, shared housing and independent accommodation.
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.
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.
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.