Because young people who have experienced disadvantage have a wealth of knowledge and insight to contribute, but are woefully under-represented at decision-making tables across the board.
Y-Change was developed to tackle this imbalance.
Initially developed with the support and expert insights of a small group of young people with lived experience of disadvantage, Y-Change aims to do two things:
- Challenge and change society’s perception of young people experiencing disadvantage as ‘limited’ because of their experiences;
- Firmly place young people with lived experience of disadvantage at decision-making, policy-making and change-making tables.
To do both these things we developed Y-Change using a training and employment framework. The training provides a space for young people to start to understand their experiences for the value they hold in terms of skill and knowledge development. The employment phase is where they build on and learn to adapt those skills and knowledge; sitting at tables with bureaucrats and government officials, presenting to Board members and Executive teams, advising on research and program development, etc.
In 2016 the first cohort of eleven young people was recruited through Berry Street, Mirabel Foundation, YSAS and the Education First Youth Foyer in Broadmeadows (Launch Housing). They attended the inaugural Orientation Camp and then underwent twelve weeks of training in public speaking, workshop facilitation, media, and campaigning and activism. Seven participants continued through to employment.
During their employment the team engaged in a huge range of projects and events, including:
- Advising Berry Street Senior Managers, Executive Management Team, and Board on strategic priorities;
- Meeting with high-level government officials;
- Co-designing the research methodologies for a national research project into young people’s experiences of transitioning between services;
- Advocating for the experiences of young people at a Victoria Police forum on youth crime;
- Presenting and facilitating at conferences;
- Consulting with young people in residential care about the impact of legislation changes;
- Running workshops for social work and youth work students.
Throughout the twelve-month pilot the Y-Change team attended quarterly workshops with an independent facilitator in which they would reflect on their experiences to date and provide input to inform the development of the next iteration of Y-Change.
In addition, researchers from the University of Melbourne engaged them in interviews at regular intervals as part of an evaluation strategy.
Following the evaluation and with the help of the pilot Y-Change team, the Y-Change model was redeveloped and relaunched at the end of 2017.
The key changes have been:
- Recruitment via any organisation supporting young people experiencing disadvantage (not just Berry Street)
- Extension from 12-month to 18-month opportunity to include:
- A six month Training & Preparation phase (previously three months)
- A full 12-month employment period
- The Training & Preparation phase now incorporates a broader range of skill and knowledge development, including: understanding lived experience as a form of expertise, self-care, influencing, the nature of change. It also includes a more in depth exploration of public speaking skills like pitching and storytelling.
The second recruitment round for Y-Change took place at the end of 2017 with the new recruits coming on board in January 2018 and completing their training at the end of July 2018.
- Co-designing the research methodologies for a national research project into transitions for vulnerable young people;
- Speaking out at a forum of over 200 adult professionals gathered to discuss violent youth crime, despite being one of just eight young people invited to attend;
- Successfully nominating the only youth representative to sit on the Victim Survivor’s Advisory Council, chaired by Rosie Batty;
- Hosting a ten-week live radio show on SYN FM covering issues relevant to young people;
- Various media appearances, including support for the Home Stretch campaign.
Apply to Join Y-Change!
Y-Change recruits young people each year, opening applications in September/October. If you want to be notified when applications open just leave your details and we’ll make sure you hear about it!