Youth work: what & why

Do you have a passion for young people?

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of young people?

Do you want to see young people transformed?

Do you have a passion to see young people empowered to have a voice, and be able to take charge of their lives?

Do you have a passion for justice for young people?

Do you want to be a significant adult in a young person’s life? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then youth work might be for you.

Young people are actively involved in shaping our world. We at Tabor believe that young people enrich society, and any society is made better when the voices of young people are valued. That is why we value youth work. But what exactly is youth work?

What is youth work?

Internationally, Youth Work is a very diverse field,[1] meaning it can look very different from country to country. In Australia, the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition landed on this definition:

a practice that places young people and their interests first. Youth work is a relational practice, where the youth worker operates alongside the young person in their context. Youth work is an empowering practice that advocates for and facilitates a young person’s independence, participation in society, connectedness and realisation of their rights.”[2]

Youth work is keenly relational. In youth work, the relationship itself is seen as the goal the change agent.

“It is the nature and place of relationships that distinguishes youthwork from other disciplines that include young people,” Lloyd Martin says, “Other professionals will normally form a client/professional relationship in order to deliver a service … In contrast, a youthworker will see the relationship as a primary goal, and use the service they provide as a context within which that relationship can be developed.[3]

The youth worker treats the young person as an equal, they work to be on the young person’s side.[4] In a system where so much seems to be against young people, having someone who is on their side and treats them as an equal can be powerful. One of the ways youth workers do this, is to let the young person is able be in charge of the conversation, and even whether they want to be part of the conversation.[5] Youth workers call this ‘voluntary participation’, and believe that it is key to creating resilient, empowered, transformed young people.

Youth workers involve the young people in issues and decisions that affect them[6], giving them more power over their lives. Youth workers approach young people holistically[7], recognising that they are affected by a number of structures and systems, but also have diverse needs. Youth workers are uniquely able to support young people with such needs.

While it may look like youth workers are always ‘just hanging out and having a chat’, youth workers are professionals[9] “who bring theoretical frameworks, professional helping skills and ethical standards into activities and conversations with young people”[10].

The bottom line? Professional youth workers make a difference. 

Why study youth work at Tabor?

Because we believe that “young people deserve great Youth Workers”[11], who are professional and excellent critical thinkers, we also believe the youth workers of tomorrow deserve to be trained well. 

The Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Youth Work) degree is designed to prepare graduates for a variety of roles across the youth sector. Our graduates have attained youth-oriented careers in:

  • Community Case Management
  • Public Sector
  • Local Government Community Development
  • Health Sector
  • School Based Pastoral Support
  • Housing Support
  • Police and Corrections
  • Faith Based Pastoral Roles
  • Event Coordination
  • Education
  • International Development
  • Adventure Recreation
  • Child Protection

Also, for full membership with many youth work associations, a Bachelor level degree is the industry standard[12], and youth workers who hold such a degree have broader employment opportunities as well as a greater number of skills in youth work. 

But why Tabor? At Tabor, you are more than a number. We have smaller class sizes which will allow you to experience a meaningful learning community, as well as have a greater depth of learning. Our lecturers care about each of our students, so you will be known by your lecturer. Our study experience is holistic, including reflection on your own sense of spirit, and the formation of a critically reflective practitioner. 

Formation is at the heart of the Tabor Youth Work program. We build our program around the idea of the professional youth worker – a practitioner who possesses both self and contextual awareness, spiritual intelligence and an ethical core. This individual is able to work courageously and creatively amidst the ubiquitous complexities, challenges and chaos of human service in the real world.

Our own Youth Work experience has enabled us to develop a nationally recognised curriculum which prepares students for real world opportunities. Through the course, students participate in practices of personal, professional, intellectual and spiritual formation. This, in conjunction with their portfolio of relevant practice skills, ensures our graduates exemplify the principles of praxis and emerge as valuable Youth Workers.

Check us out at tabor.edu.au


[1] Bessant, 2011; Cooper, 2018; Sapin, 2013

[2] Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, 2013

[3] Martin, 2002

[4] Bright, Thompson, Hart & Hayden, 2018, Cooper, 2018, Green, 2008

[5] Cooper, 2018, Youth Work WA, Green, 2008

[6] Sapin, 2013; Cooper, 2018;

[7] Bright, Thompson, Hart, & Hayden, 2018; Cooper, 2018; Green, 2008

[8] Youth Work WA

[9] Sapin, 2013; Sercombe, 2007; Sercombe, 2018

[10] Daughtry, 2011

[11] Youth Work WA

[12] Youth Work WA

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