Brimbank Youth Strategy 2020-2024 is a youth program formulated by the Brimbank City Council. This strategy is aimed at empowered Brimbank Youth, inculcate a strong sense of belonging to the community, facilitate equitable access to services and encourage them to voice their concerns as well as ensuring that they are acted upon. The focus of the strategy is particularly on young people between the age ranges of 12-25 years. In addition to introducing service to these groups of people, the strategy strives to facilitate access to existing and ongoing opportunities that seeks to empower them, encourage active collaboration while also enabling them to respond to the changing trends as well as to thrive in their own communities. The purpose of this report is to assess the identified policy in terms of its effectiveness to consult, engage and empower young people.
An effective program that centers on the youth and their issues is one which is consultative in nature; that where the concerned parties voices are sought and valued. According to the United States Agency for International Development USAID (2014), efforts for youth engagement must entail elevation of their voices while availing relevant opportunities that contribute to promotion of positives changes and resolving of issues in the communities and nations at large. Accordingly, youth participation is considered to be the first guiding principle when designing youth focused programs. This means that they need to be engaged accordingly, consulted regarding their views, and that the valuable ideas to be incorporated in the final program.
The Brimbank Youth Strategy 2020-2024 can be said to be adequately consultative. In particular, more than 1000 youth in Brimbank were represented in creating the vision. Moreover, the policy also involved over 20 partner organizations which alongside the youth representatives were involved in the consultative process. Furthermore, the drafters of this program engaged with over 300 young people directly in different ways and places. In particular, there was consultation of small groups of young people on a face to face basis through focus groups and facilitated workshops. The whole consultative process involved a total of four workshops. These workshops included the young people, youth service agencies from the community and state level, youth service teams from the local government, and youth service stakeholders from the Brimbank area. The participants in these forums were required to present their perceptions on a contemporary and leading youth service, and how to make the program beneficial and engaging for the young people (Brinkbank City Council, 2015). The process made it possible to collect in-depth data regarding the major issues faced by the youth and the best way to address them. Alongside generation of rich data is the benefit of increased trust not only among the target generation but also the community and staff. This creates a picture of an adequately done consultative process that considers relevant stakeholders in the program. However, the program does not inform on how long the consultative process took place or whether there were awareness programs before the actual consultative process. Awareness on policy design process is deemed important as it makes the stakeholders not only knowledgeable on what is expected of them but also accord them time to prepare themselves psychologically and even physically. Lack of this could have jeopardized the engagement process to some level.
Helgeson, and Schneider, (2015), advise that effective youth development is based on establishing resilient communities where the youth are supported by adults. In other words, the youth need adults as well as their peers for effective development. If such support is missing, then there would be a significant gap in this aspect. This means that the young people need to engage with their local communities as much as possible. Further, creating communities where the young people are encouraged to be engaged enables them not only to overcome challenges but also into adapting. On his part, Yoshitaka (2016) says that by cultivating positive relationships with the elder people within the community, the young will be able to value the community as well as the relationships they have cultivated.
To a certain degree, Brimbank Youth Strategy 2020-2024 has facilitated youth engagement in the local communities. For instance, within the policy is a wellbeing and belonging program that encourages them to value their community and their role within them. The program also sensitizes these young people to exercise control over their lives, speak for themselves, and participate in their community development. This way, they are able to value their communities and take a role in developing them. Furthermore, the program has partnered with specialist service providers for the purpose of supporting the youth to access the specialist services which they need. This way, the youth are able to learn that there is no time they can be self-sufficient but rather, they would need the services of others in the society. In other words, individuals need to interrelate with one another for live to be complete. The major positive aspect in this program regarding this area is that the young people are motivated to develop a sense of pride towards the communities where they belong. They are also empowered to lead conversations concerning change initiatives. What is more, the program has also endeavored to create partnerships across the council with a focus on creating neighborhood houses, culture and arts with an aim of supporting the sense of belonging and interactions. Nonetheless, as much as these initiatives are critical in cultivating a sense of belonging and pride among the youth towards their communities, they have failed to recognized the role of youth-adult relationship. In other words, the program fails to identify measures that would facilitate forging a close tie between the young and older people whose relationships would be mutually beneficial to both parties. It is important that the youth understand the role of adults in any community from whom they would seek advice and other forms of advice during their development initiatives.
There is no doubt that the youth will be able to grow and develop immensely if they are empowered and given growth opportunities accordingly (Isioma et al, 2018). On the other hand, if the youth are not empowered and given opportunities, they will always find it hard to grow and develop meaningfully. Accordingly, the Brimbank Youth Stategy 2020-2024 has also recognized the high level of youth unemployment in the area and put have strategies to address the same. Alongside these is the lower level of completion of tertiary education which is acting as a barrier for young people to navigate through career pathways. Another barrier which the report identified is the lack of understanding concerning the career pathways and existing opportunities. In addition to these is the prevalent racism and discrimination on the basis of gender, age, disability as well as other identities that impact on the ability of the young people to find employment opportunities. In order to cultivate a level playing field for the youth employment, all these barriers need to be addressed accordingly by the stakeholders and authorities.
An assessment of Brinkbank Youth Strategy 2020-2024 showcases that the drafters of the program were cognizant of the rampart unemployment in this place. As such, they have put in place numerous initiatives and projects focused on the same. For instance, the program strives to create employment opportunities for the young people as well as training them for necessary skills that makes them employable. Furthermore, they have been able to draw a youth job strategy while also addressing the barriers to successful employment for these particular youth. It is evident that when the barriers to employment such as lack of relevant skills or lack of awareness of existing opportunities are addressed, it becomes possible for the concerned people to get jobs. In addition, the program also endeavors to support the young people into gaining work experience through such initiatives as internship opportunities, training, etc to make them have the necessary experience required of them in executing certain duties.
To address issues of discrimination at workplaces, the program aims at initiating a coordinated sector wide approach to inclusive approach as well as service and employment provision across the country. This is not only to ensure that the youth with the right skills are employed and promoted without discrimination but also gender parity at workplaces. The program also encourages employers to cultivate an equal and diverse opportunity environment as the best and positive approach towards creating a conducive work environment. This is deemed to be the best approach the high rate of unemployment as well as in dealing with the barriers to finding job opportunities for the youth.
From the above review, it is evident that the Brimbank Youth Strategy 2020-2024 has been effective in empowering young people within Brimbank to consult, engage and empower them. Apparently, the strategy is widely consultative in nature since a number of stakeholders including the youth were involved. Accordingly, various workshops focus group discussions, interviews were arranged so as to get the views of the concerned parties. The report also notes that important stakeholder concerns, views and contributions as having been incorporated in the final program. However, a minor shortfall was the fact that there was no timeline for preparations nor was there awareness programs created during the consultative process. This could have heard a significant level of implications to the final contributions made by the stakeholders. On the other hand, a significant level of effort is registered towards making the local youth engaged towards their local communities. For instance, there is a belonging and wellbeing program which encourages the youth to be proud of their communities and in making valuable contributions towards its development. However, there is no clear strategy on cultivating a closer relationship with the elderly and this aspect need to be worked out. Nonetheless, the aspect of empowerment appears to be well catered for; with various initiatives set out to address unemployment and making it easy for the youth to find work.
Brinkbank City Council. (2015). Brimbank Youth Stategy 2020-2024.
Helgeson, S., & Schneider, D. (2015). Authentic community-based youth engagement: Lessons
from across the nation and through the lens of violence prevention. National Civic Review, 104(3), 16-23.
United States Agency for International Development USAID. (2014). Youth engagement in
development. Available at: https://youtheconomicopportunities.org/sites/default/files/uploads/resource/USAID_Youth%20Engagement_FINAL%20External.pdf (accessed on 8th, October, 2020)
Isioma, I., & Sakyi Boadu, E., Bendall, M. ((2018) . ‘The paradox of youth empowerment:
Exploring youth intervention programme in Ghana, Cogent Social Sciences, 4:1, DOI: 10.1080/23311886.2018.1528709
Yoshitaka I. (2016). The role of youth engagement in positive youth development
and social justice youth development for high-risk, marginalised youth, International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 21, (3), 267-278.
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