BoysTown is a registered charity and a national organization for youth welfare in Australia. It focuses on helping disadvantaged youths who are at risk of social exclusion to enhance their quality of life (“Youth social”). It recognizes several causes of social exclusion among disadvantaged youths that need to be addressed, which include single parenthood, low self-esteem, physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, lack of work experience, functional illiteracy, and underdeveloped personal and vocational skills (“Youth social”).
BoysTown also recognizes that most of the disadvantage youths came from families who have a history of intergenerational unemployment and welfare dependency and from Indigenous backgrounds (“Youth social”). BoysTown offers several social inclusion programs to help disadvantage youths to improve their life. The programs include Kids Helpline, Youth Programs, Indigenous community development, Family programs, and Intermediate labor markets.
The key attribute of these programs is that they emphasized sustainable outcomes while they rely on safe strategies for working with youths who are at risk of social exclusion (“Youth social”). BoysTown’s Kids Helpline is a national telephone and web-based counseling program that provides services for more than 60,000 children and youths across the country. The Youth programs offer personal development, training and employment assistance to more than 3,500 youths in communities.
BoysTown is collaborating with key stakeholders to work on a social inclusion project with four remote Indigenous communities in the East Kimberleys (“Youth social”). It also provides parenting programs and family refuges such as home-based support and training to make way for the transition of disadvantaged youths to the wider world (“Youth social”). The organization also operates various social enterprises and transitional employment programs in order to provide 400 youths per year with paid work and on-the-job training.
There are various indicators that demonstrate the degree of social exclusion suffered by families and children, which include low-birth-weight babies, permanent exclusion from school, the number of children living in unemployed households, teenage pregnancy, low academic achievement, and the number of children aged 10-16 who are in young offender institutions (Pierson, 2002). The indicators of social exclusion at the level of community include overcrowded housing, a high percentage of households without a bank account, poor community participation, and high levels of burglaries (Pierson, 2002).
The key forces that increases the likelihood of social exclusion are poverty and low income, lack of social supports and networks, lack of access to the labor market, the impact of the local neighborhood, and exclusion from services (Pierson, 2002). Pierson (2002) suggests ways to address social exclusion, which include maximizing income and securing basic resources; improving social networks and supports; collaborating in partnership with local organizations and agencies; developing channels of effective participation for users, local residents, and their organizations; and concentrating on whole neighborhoods.
Socially excluded youths have a significant cost impact on society in terms of publicly-funded health services, justice system and social security costs, and the impact of decreased individual earning capacity, lost productivity, and decreased tax revenue (“Youth social”). The Australian government is investing in developing the capability of the not-for-profit organization to provide more holistic, community-based strategies to respond to social exclusion, especially among young people (“Youth social”).
Models of intervention must be multi-dimensional and aimed at providing young people with a comprehensive range of support over an extended period of time (“Youth social”). They should also be based on a holistic approach in order for young people to overpower personal barriers; improve their strengths, health, well-being, life and interpersonal skills; develop their self-esteem and the ability to learn; and succeed in shifting to independent living, training or work, and further education (“Youth social”).
BoysTown’s Youth programs are effective in helping youths who are at risk of social exclusion because they incorporate individual assessment, counseling, and support, life skills training, personal development and mentoring; vocational skills training, employment assistance; and post-placement support (“Youth social”). Young people must be provided assistance into paid employment by giving advice, training and other help that they need to make them more employable (Kemp, 2005).
Focusing on individual agency such as young people’s attributes, qualifications, decision-making, and behavior allows young people to successfully transition from welfare to work (Kemp, 2005). The Kids Helpline at BoysTown is similar to a mentoring program that helps disadvantaged young people to tackle social exclusion. Mentoring consists of an informal educative role and personal support and encouragement (Pierson, 2002). Mentor acts as a trusted counselor or guide (Pierson, 2002).
The goal of a mentoring or counseling program is to connect two individuals in a one to one voluntary relationship, with one individual being more experienced than the other and with the hope that their knowledge and skills will be transferred (Pierson, 2002). The key features of a mentoring relationship include a voluntary arrangement as required by the individual being mentored and can be ended by either party at any time, interpersonal skills of mentors to manage and monitor the relationship, and the understanding of both mentored and mentors about the boundaries and objective of the relationship (Pierson, 2002).
Colley (2003) mentions the popularity of mentoring with policy-makers because it addresses their concerns such as the moralization of social exclusion. The author adds that the solution to social exclusion of young people depends on their re-engagement with the labor market and/or formal learning routes. The key role of mentoring is to provide a way for the re-engagement by changing young people’s values, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior to engage their personal commitment to become employable (Colley, 2003).
Mentoring helps young people in terms of empowering them, discussing aspirations, and making them more realistic about their view of work (Colley, 2003). It is also important to assist young people to attain skills in areas such as confidence building, problem solving, improvement of interpersonal skills, punctuality, and team working in order to enhance their personal effectiveness in the workplace (Colley, 2003).
Moreover, mentoring is also important to help disadvantaged young people develop social networks and capital (Colley, 2003). It is necessary to create initiatives that involve young people not only in making decisions that affect them individually or on particular services but also in making decisions that influence their communities collectively (Pierson, 2002). Organizations led by young people play an important role in defining services and provide practical support for young persons (Pierson, 2002).
The aim of the Indigenous community development at BoysTown is to help young people to re-engage in learning; increase community involvement in formal education and training; enhance access to sustainable mainstream employment opportunities; and develop training and work opportunities through community-based social business enterprises (“Youth social”). According to Pierson (2002), adolescent support teams have emerged rapidly during the early 1990s.
The author adds that the aim of adolescent support teams is to divert youths from the care system and offer short-term preventive service that assists families prevent problems in relationships that might result to homelessness. The approach used by the adolescent support teams is preventive and based on time-limited, task-focused work (Pierson, 2002). Most of the work of the adolescent support teams involves negotiation and mediation between young people and parents (Pierson, 2002).
BoysTown enterprises are involved in several community infrastructure development, asset maintenance, and urban renewal projects in disadvantaged areas (“Youth social”). Enterprise-based intermediate labor markets are effective in minimizing crime and anti-social behavior and in helping young people who are socially excluded to engage again with the labor market (“Youth social”). According to Aiken (2007), social enterprises are considered mission-driven organizations with a commitment to a specific disadvantaged group.
The author adds that placement agencies function as intermediaries in searching and training people to move into work in the mainstream labor market. Social enterprises have often focused on the needs of socially excluded client groups (Aiken, 2007). Aiken (2007) mentions that the origin of social and community enterprises can be found in the mutual and cooperative sector in Great Britain. The author adds that the emergence of this movement has resulted to an important pattern which has focused on the economic development of poorer communities, including the importance of maintaining paid work.
Intermediate Labor Market organizations focus on short-term training and employment with the goal of trainees transitioning into paid work in other organizations (Aiken, 2007). They may be working with disadvantaged people and will have a tendency to be reliant on some degree of public sector contracting. References Aiken, M. (2007). What is the role of social enterprise in finding, creating and maintaining employment? for disadvantaged groups? Retrieved June 14, 2009, from http://www. parracity. nsw. gov. au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/22575/Cabinet_Office
Colley, Helen (2003). Mentoring for social inclusion: A critical approach to nurturing mentor relationships. New York, NY: Routledge. Kemp, P. A. (2005) Young people and unemployment: From welfare to workfare. In M. Barry (Ed. ), Youth policy and social inclusion: critical debates with young people (pp. 139-156). New York, NY: Routledge. Pierson, J. (2002). Tackling social exclusion. New York, NY: Routledge. Youth social exclusion: A global concern. Retrieved June 14, 2009, from http://www. boystown. com. au/downloads/rep/BT-Youth-Social-Exclusion. pdf