n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Professional youth work in Victoria : the whole 'kitbag'




Youth work is a distinct professional discipline that has clear parameters to its practice base. These parameters form the reference points for professional youth workers and are enshrined in the Victorian Youth Sector Code of Ethical Practice (Corney and Hoiles 2007). The parameters for youth work are underpinned by an understanding of the social, political and economic context in which young people live and operate (Maunders and Broadbent 1995). This article discusses a youth-work practice framework, using the analogy of a 'kitbag' that defines us as professionals and, more importantly, the distinct set of skills and knowledge that is called 'youth work'.

Youth work has built up professional resources, including codes of ethical practices and a research body of knowledge, and has become a defined industry, with education and training and labour-market definitions. All of these, as well as a set of ethics, values, practice reference points, principles, knowledge and skills, should be contained in the kitbag of each professional youth worker and provided through training and mentoring. The analogy of a kitbag seems appropriate when referring to all of the tools that a professional may need. Interestingly, industry representatives used the term 'toolbox' in the past, based on similar connections to the need for tools in order to be successful in any profession. The establishment of what is included in the professional kitbag of youth work requires the sort of advocacy that is found in the strong collective voice of a professional association. Victoria has a history of attempts to establish a professional association to be that advocate. In recent times there has been yet another call to align the code of ethical practice with a professional association. With an increasing number of other professions scrambling over the youth worker's terrain, there seems to be a looming imperative for youth work to professionalise or perish.


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