Youth Services with a 'Wide Lens'
The "Wide Lens" project was a joint project between Youth Action and the NSW Department of Community Services: Family and Community Services. Its aim was to look at placing the client's needs at the centre of Youth Work in the Metro Central Region of Sydney.
The project was broken into two parts:
- A report into the current state of 'client-centredness' across the region; and,
- A training package/resource to assist workers to work holistically with clients.
"Wide Lens" Report
The Wide Lens report analyses holistic, client-centred practice in the Region. It begins with a vision for contemporary youth services - outcomes-driven, preventative, connected/client-centred, well-informed, coordinated, professional and evidence-based. It then uses data from focus groups, interviews and literature to examine the current state of client-centredness, and make both short and long-term recommendations to support a culture change to client-centredness. Some of these recommendations include:
- Increasing the “connectors” between sectors to encourage seamlessness and communication, such as a pilot of Student Support Officers in schools;
- Forming regional and state-wide “guiding teams” of cross-sector leaders to drive client-focused change across all levels;
- Investing in, and enabling, effective organisational leadership to improve client outcomes;
- Developing agreement of shared outcomes and frameworks to align services to both holistic (i.e. assessing and acting on the whole needs of the client) and “lifespan” perspectives for the benefit of clients;
- Focusing on information systems that can improve efficiency and effectiveness of information sharing;
- Developing comprehensive information-gathering and information-sharing systems to track the effectiveness of local and regional interventions;
- Increasing flexibility of funding and models of service delivery to better address client needs.
 Youth Work Snapshot
This research formed part of the Keeping It Together (KIT) Youth Sector Support Project undertaken by Youth Action (formerly YAPA), to support the youth sector through a significant period of change brought about by two key reforms.
Firstly, after 21 years of serving NSW young people with locally devised programs, the Community Services Grants Program (CSGP) began a reform process that would see services fall under two umbrellas—the Early Intervention and Placement Prevention Program (EIPP) focused on direct services to children, young people and their families, and Community Builders, focused on community strengthening. This change precipitated a 25% increase in funding available across various types of services, including a large proportion of services working with young people.
Secondly, the Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW handed down by Justice James Wood in 2008 and the subsequent reforms under the NSW Government’s action plan Keep Them Safe: A Shared Approach to Child Wellbeing 2009–2014 resulted in wide–ranging changes to the ways in which youth services and their colleagues across the community services sector were required to deal with their work with children and young people.
In response, YAPA and NSW Family Services Inc., the peak organisation providing support to non–government organisations in NSW that provide services to families experiencing stress, partnered to deliver the Keeping It Together Sector Support Project to youth and family support services across NSW, as funded by the Department of Family and Community Services (formerly Department of Human Services—Community Services).