Young people

Youth is a time of development and transition—of emotional and personal maturation, setting of career preferences and goals, and movement from reliance on parental support towards economic independence. This is when personal and vocational skills are developed, qualifications obtained, and the foundations laid for employment and income trajectories over the decades to come. But the transition to adulthood can be a difficult time for some young people. Today’s youth also face new challenges, including changing family and social structures, continually developing technologies, and an evolving labour market.

Investing in young people—supporting them to develop the confidence, resilience and skills they need to be involved and productive citizens—is key to preparing Australia for the challenges of the future. In recent years, there has been a focus on increasing educational attainment and on capturing the perspectives of young people in policy development.

There are numerous strategies to support young people at risk, including mentoring programs, alternative learning programs, support services, youth mental health services, and supports for young people leaving state care, as well as diversion programs for young people who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

 


Project examples

Click on any of the following projects for more information.

Evaluation of NSW Youth Mentoring Program

(Office of Communities, 2014)

Evaluation of NSW Youth Mentoring Program

(Office of Communities, 2014)

The YWCA NSW delivered 4 youth mentoring models in 29 locations across NSW. To evaluate the program, we reviewed the national and international peer-reviewed and grey literature; assessed the models against the Australian Youth Mentoring Network Benchmarks; explored how the models were implemented in different contexts; and identified the strengths and weaknesses of each approach to develop a best practice model. This has since been scaled up at the state level.

Review of Links to Learning for youth at risk

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2013)

Review of Links to Learning for youth at risk

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2013)

Links to Learning is targeted at students in Years 7 to 12 at risk of disengaging from education and young people who have left school before completing Year 12 and are not enrolled in Vocational Education and Training. The Department funds non-government organisations and local government authorities to deliver innovative projects designed engage these students in education. ARTD reviewed the program’s effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness. We used a mixed-method design, drawing on a desktop analysis and literature review, online survey of program providers, key informant interviews, and stakeholder forums. The findings were used to develop a more strategic approach to the program and identify priorities for resourcing the new model.

Evaluation of alcohol education program for young people caught drinking

(NSW Police Force, 2013)

Evaluation of alcohol education program for young people caught drinking

(NSW Police Force, 2013)

The Your Choice program provides young people caught drinking and their parents the choice to attend an information session instead of paying a fine. The program aims to reduce dangerous drinking by raising young people’s awareness of strategies to avoid risks and challenging their perceptions of the prevalence and desirability of underage and heavy episodic drinking. It also aims to increase parents’ sense of responsibility for, and ability to act on, their child’s drinking. The program was introduced in 16 Police local areas commands (LACs) in 2009, and extended to 3 more. NSW Police developed a web-based alternative to address perceived inefficiencies and disincentives inherent in the face-to-face sessions for trial in six LACs in 2013. ARTD was engaged to evaluate the program using a mixed-method approach. We drew on monitoring data, Google analytics data, surveys and focus groups of participants, and consultation with police and health workers. Based on the evidence we provided, NSW Police are updating the program and rolling it out statewide. They are also using our report to inform interagency policy discussions about youth alcohol diversion.

Framework for and evaluation of mentoring programs for school students

(South Australian Department of Education and Child Development, 2012-13)

Framework for and evaluation of mentoring programs for school students

(South Australian Department of Education and Child Development, 2012-13)

South Australia’s Community and Secondary Mentoring programs provide students at risk of disengaging from school with access to a mentor for an hour a week in school time. ARTD was engaged to design an evaluation framework for the programs and then to conduct the process and outcomes evaluation in two stages.

To assess outcomes we used a quasi-experimental design, with pre- and post-testing of resilience, optimism, social relations and love of learning among participating students and a control group of similar students who did not receive mentoring. To understand which students mentoring worked for, why and how, we also used a realist approach, forming a hypothesis from qualitative data from teachers, mentors and students and testing it in quantitative data. The final report made recommendations to further develop the programs and target them at the students most likely to benefit.

Framework for and evaluation of Innovative Community Action Networks

(Department of Education and Children's Services, 2012-13)

Framework for and evaluation of Innovative Community Action Networks

(Department of Education and Children's Services, 2012-13)

Innovative Community Action Networks is a state-wide strategy developed by the South Australian Government to address disengagement from education and learning in upper primary and high school years. ARTD worked with the Department to develop a logic model and evaluation framework for the program. We were subsequently engaged to conduct a process and outcomes evaluation in two stages. We used a mixed-method design. Qualitative data provided evidence about context and implementation. We measured outcomes for the 2011 cohort of around 4,000 students using attendance, behaviour and learning achievements data and a validated survey instrument measuring engagement in learning, relationships and wellbeing.  The findings were used throughout the project to inform the ongoing development of the strategy and provide a case for its future resourcing.

Evaluation of program for youth at risk of involvement in motor vehicle crime

(Bankstown Council, 2012)

Evaluation of program for youth at risk of involvement in motor vehicle crime

(Bankstown Council, 2012)

The council’s U-Turns for Youth program provides local youth at risk of involvement in motor vehicle crime with access to support services and automotive and life skills workshops to support their engagement in education, training, employment. ARTD developed an evaluation framework, plan and data collection tools for the council’s internal evaluation of the project. We then analysed the data collected by council staff and provided a final report about the program’s contribution to the council’s goals for this sector and for the broader community.

Evaluation of Two Streams Together

(Aboriginal Affairs NSW, 2012)

Evaluation of Two Streams Together

(Aboriginal Affairs NSW, 2012)

Two Streams Together aims to increase the retention of Aboriginal young people in high school and, ultimately, to improve their opportunities for further training and employment. It is provided in partnership between Greenacres Disability Services and Shoalhaven High School, and has been operational since 2007. ARTD consulted with staff and students and drew on monitoring data to evaluate the impact of the program. The evaluation findings supported the service providers in their strategic planning.

Evaluation of pilot program for young people with challenging behaviour

(Prevention and Pathways Directorate, 2011)

Evaluation of pilot program for young people with challenging behaviour

(Prevention and Pathways Directorate, 2011)

Stay Connected, a case management program for young people with autism or intellectual disability and challenging behaviours at risk of suspension or expulsion from school, was piloted at two service locations in NSW. ARTD’s evaluation explored processes (including how the partnership between two government agencies and a non-government service provider had worked) and outcomes for young people. We scanned the literature, surveyed partner organisations using a partnership assessment tool, analysed program data and interviewed reference group members and school staff. We also interviewed parents/ carers and developed case studies from these. Our report identified critical success factors and barriers for effective case management within the partnership model to inform future implementation of the program.

Analysis of action research reports for youth homelessness services

(Department of Social Services, 2009)

Analysis of action research reports for youth homelessness services

(Department of Social Services, 2009)

The Reconnect and the Newly Arrived Youth Support Services programs provided community-based early intervention services to assist young people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. To support ongoing service improvement, 114 funded providers undertook participatory action research and submitted annual reports on these to the Department. ARTD systematically reviewed the provider reports from 2007–08 to present the Department with information about the effectiveness of the action research approach. We developed a framework for assessing the provider reports, with clear assessment criteria and detailed attributes, based on action research guidelines. We then applied this framework to assess processes and identify good practice examples. Our reporting included feedback on individual services. We made recommendations about how to help services improve action research processes and reporting, and how to systematically gather material for program development.

Evaluation of treatment program for youth with sexual offending behaviours

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2008-10)

Evaluation of treatment program for youth with sexual offending behaviours

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2008-10)

The New Pathways program offers residential treatment for male adolescents with problematic sexual offending behaviours. ARTD conducted a process and outcomes evaluation of the program over two years. The first stage was to design an evaluation framework with key performance indicators. We then collected data through participant file reviews; conducted interviews with young people, their families and program staff and managers; and a cost analysis. The evaluation informed decisions about future funding for the program.

Monitoring for a transition to work program for school leavers with disability

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2009)

Monitoring for a transition to work program for school leavers with disability

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2009)

Transition to Work is a two-year support program for young people with disability (with moderate to high support needs) to develop the skills and qualifications needed to successfully secure and sustain employment. In 2006 and 2007, ARTD helped the Department develop a monitoring and evaluation framework that described the intended outcomes of the program and the data needed to assess these. In 2008, ARTD designed the data collection tools and processes to support program monitoring in consultation with a stakeholder reference group. After piloting the tools and processes, ARTD was engaged to administer the system for 159 providers (servicing about 1200 clients) over two six-month periods (July to December 2008 and January to June 2009). We were responsible for supporting providers with data collection, analysing data and producing state-wide, regional and service-level reports. The reports were used for performance monitoring and contract management. Our work received the Best Evaluation Policy and Systems Award from the Australasian Evaluation Society in 2010.

Monitoring for support program for young people with disability

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2009)

Monitoring for support program for young people with disability

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2009)

The Community Participation program assists young people with disability to build skills that increase their independence and support their active participation as valued members in the community. In 2006, ARTD developed and piloted a performance monitoring system for the program. Following the pilot, ARTD maintained the system, providing helpline assistance to service providers, and following up non-respondents to ensure valid and reliable data. ARTD also produced six-monthly reports for the state, regions and individual services. The Department used this data to improve the delivery and monitoring of the program. Our work received the Best Evaluation Policy and Systems Award from the Australasian Evaluation Society in 2010.