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Home > News > 2017 > November > Youth Workers: an integral role in our Flexible Learning Centres

Youth Workers: an integral role in our Flexible Learning Centres

IMG_1109.JPGYouth Workers at Flexible Learning Centres (FLCs) have a unique role in working with young people who have become disengaged with mainstream education. Their duties consist of tasks and routines atypical to what is the norm in mainstream schools. With a need for flexibility, patience and passion characterising their occupation, Youth Workers are an integral part of a student’s learning experience at a FLC. 

PHOTO: IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes with FLC Youth Worker member Robert Topping

Re-engaging youth

IEUA-QNT member Ray Bourne is a Music Technology Instructor at the Albert Park Flexible Learning Centre in Brisbane. 

Ray’s work in instructing and encouraging music engagement shows how essential Youth Worker roles are to the FLC learning environment. 

“We regularly see how music can be a powerful tool in working with young people that have disengaged with mainstream education,” Ray said.  

“We have the flexibility to work with the music and projects that motivate and inspire young people, and from there we are able to explore a myriad of pathways into learning; whether that is learning music theory, staging music events, putting together playlists, writing raps, making beats, playing guitar, recording a song, collaborating with others - whatever project motivates the individual student to want to learn something new.

“For many young people, music can be the conduit for them to again see themselves as learners: to see they can learn new things and to realise they are capable of growth. 

“The growth in confidence we see is astounding, and of course this then can flow on to other aspects of their lives: academic, social, emotional, health, work-readiness – you name it,” Ray said.

Responsibility and flexibility

Ande Foster is a Music Youth Worker at Gympie Flexible Learning Centre. Ande is also the IEUA-QNT staff representative in his workplace.

Ande listed the roles Youth Workers play in a FLC environment, including:

  • Building relationships with young people.
  • Supporting classes. 
  • Delivering accredited training.
  • Planning camps and excursions.
  • Helping create career plans and connect young people to employment opportunities.
  • Helping young people obtain essential documents.
  • Working with depressed, anxious and suicidal teenagers. 
  • Having meetings to help young people solve problems.
  • Keeping case notes.
  • Communicating with parents and carers.
  • Purchasing and maintain resources.
  • Working with individuals and groups that are in conflict.
  • In collaboration with teachers, developing personal learning plans, plan and deliver learning activities and prepare report cards.

Challenges faced by Youth Workers

Ande said the role of Youth Workers comes with its challenges. 

“Our leadership structure is fairly level, so there is a lot of responsibility for our school officers and Youth Workers to be involved in the operation of the school, our culture and the outcomes of our learning groups. 

“Dealing with a high number of incidents and complex behavioural and social issues comes with the territory. 

“Our roles can be very fluid, and have the potential to expand or change with a moment’s notice. 

“This side of the work can be very challenging,” Ande said. 

IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes said our union and its FLC members know firsthand the value of the contribution Youth Workers make. 

“Greater recognition of the unique roles and responsibilities of FLC Youth Workers has been a core claim in the recent FLC review. 

“The final agreed positions include a review of Youth Worker Classification levels to ensure accurate classification and pay rates, as well as a long-term commitment to update the classification matrix to include a specific classification stream for Youth Workers. 

“This is a vital step towards ensuring Youth Workers’ contributions are acknowledged appropriately,” Brad said. 

Read more about our union’s work in the FLC review here.

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.