Youthworx 2.0

The project has investigated new approaches to social enterprise, which bring third sector welfare services together with the collaborative sphere of community and niche (peripheral) media markets. CCI researchers have investigated the development of the initiative, its rationales and evolution into Youthworx Productions: an entrepreneurial training and employment scheme for disadvantaged youth. The longitudinal research has enabled the research team to track these organisational changes as well as social contribution the program makes to individual young participants as they engage in supported co-creative media work within the Youthworx media culture of quality training and production.
The collaborative structure allows the program to offer parallel accredited courses in Creative Industries (CERT I-III) via collaborative arrangement with NMIT TAFE and CERT IV via Swinburne University, in addition to open access workshops and Independent Media Training conducted on a one-on-one basis.
 
Youthworx operates on a blended funding model with core funding for the primary training and infrastructure coming from Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS) – currently extended until 2015. Over the past 3 years since establishing the business arm (Youthworx Productions), Youthworx has also made a commitment to bringing in 50% of its income via trade through client-based commissioned work and funded social impact projects.
The CCI’s Youthworx research has examined the impact of employing creative strategies to help marginalised young people develop skills and capacities to reconnect with formal education and labour market. The study has demonstrated the success of the Youthworx integrated model of creative and social work for facilitating a supported learning environment, with positive consequences for making a difference in young people’s lives.

The research has used interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to provide a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, social and cultural aspects of conducting media-based work for social change. The detailed, longitudinal research provides empirical evidence for the value of digital media training, cross-sectorial partnerships, and the important role of highly motivated creative practitioners and youth workers. These elements form a basis for creating a nurturing environment where young people can learn, make media and develop transferable skills. The research has advanced the knowledge of how the idea and goal of ‘youth development’ and ‘social inclusion’ can be conceptualised and practically realised.  


2013-14

In 2013 Youthworx consolidated the training model with high retention and engagement from within the core student body and the continued refinement of the program model. It was also a landmark year in respect that one young person became a fully employed film producer, having successfully completed his initial training and undergoing an 18-month apprenticeship. This represents significant development, and this graduate of the program is now training other young people within the business arm of the project. Youthworx is aiming to build a sustainable social enterprise in 2014 and beyond continuing to try to grow the young people from within the organisation to have an increasing voice and say in the operations of the project.

During 2013 Youthworx led a number of significant projects as well as producing films for a large range of clients. Some of these projects include:

- leading the training for the ‘My Girragundji Passing On Stories’ Filmmaking Project, in partnership with Savage Films and TAIMA (Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Media Association), working with the authors Boori Monty Pryor and Meme McDonald based in Townsville
- producing the web-based series ‘Live Up’, an independent living skills series of 11 episodes made by and for young people
- producing a series of three short films widely distributed within Victorian Schools as part of the Healthy Relationships project
- Producing the short film ‘Pearl with The Story Weavers Collective’, which draws on the experiences of young Pacific Islanders within an urban context.
 
A series of follow-up interviews with Youthworx graduates were conducted in 2013 to determine real-world impacts of the project from the perspective of young people following participation in the program. The research has provided substantiative evidence that indicates the success of this media-based social intervention: more than half of officially enrolled students (25) continued with some type of formal education and training (industry apprenticeships, TAFE, VCAL, tertiary courses) and 17 have been employed in a range of jobs across different industry sectors.
 
On the ground, Youthworx has further consolidated and extended a number of commercial and social partnerships. Over the past 12 months Youthworx has produced media on a commercial basis or worked in partnership with the following organisations: VACCA (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency); The Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation; AAV (Aboriginal Affairs Victoria); MOSS (Merri Outreach Support Services); Displacement Solutions; CMY (Centre for Multicultural Youth); Highvale Secondary College; Footscray City College; Melton Secondary College; Youth Law; Saltwater Projects; Good Shepherd Youth Services; and TAIMA (Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Media Association).
 
Youthworx Productions launched its first ever crowdfunding campaign for the TV teen drama series ‘North’, led by Youthworx Production trainees. The project explores the lives of young people from Melbourne’s northern suburbs as they transition into adulthood, and if successful is expected to go into production in early 2014. 
 
The report Youthworx Media – Youth media and social enterprise as intervention and innovation: the development, establishment and outcomes of Youthworx 2008–2013 was published in late 2013, providing the first comprehensive report on the project, summarising multiple voices, including industry partners, service organisations and participants, and reflecting arguments developed by our researchers. Aneta Podkalicka wrote the book chapter ‘Youthworx: Media Work for Youth Transitions’ for Creative Work beyond the Creative Industries: Innovation, Employment, and Education. She and Ellie Rennie are also developing a book on ‘social innovation media’ that draws on the comparative research into Youthworx, One Economy’s ‘Digital Connectors’, and other international examples of media projects designed to engender positive social change. The manuscript is under contract, and planned to be published in 2014.

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