1. Te Kawenga | Your Primary Relationship

1.1 In the youth work context, taking into account the youth worker’s legal obligations, cultural considerations, obligations to the whānau/family and despite the many competing demands on them, the youth worker’s primary relationship is with the young person they engage with.

1.2 The youth work relationship begins when the youth worker engages with the young person as a youth worker, and ceases by necessity or by agreement (expressed or implied). The seamless nature of youth work is acknowledged and youth workers will manage transitioning between different forms of relationship with care.

1.3 Where a conflict of interest exists between more than one young person, it will be resolved in ways which minimise harm to all parties, but with particular consideration to those least advantaged by the outcome.

2. Wehenga Tūmanako | Behaviour Covered by the Code

Youth workers will be positive role models. This Code covers any behaviour, whether connected to their work or personal time, when it relates to or affects a youth worker’s practice.

3. Ārahitanga | Your Conduct

3.1 Youth workers will perform their work honestly and impartially, and avoid situations which might compromise their integrity.

3.2 Youth workers will carry out their work in an efficient and competent manner.

3.3 Youth workers will avoid words and actions (e.g. dress, flirting, offensive language, put-downs, body language, and unnecessary or inappropriate touch) that could be misunderstood or cause offence.

3.4 Youth workers should avoid activities which would bring young people, fellow workers, their organisation, or youth work into disrepute.

3.5 Should a youth worker be in a situation that may be considered unethical, they will notify the people they are accountable to, look at ways to minimise any negative consequences, and put in place strategies to avoid similar situations in the future.

4. Puatatanga | Being Transparent

4.1 Youth workers will be open, honest and accountable to young people.

4.2 Where a programme and/or organisation operates from a particular value basis, this will be clearly stated.

4.3 Youth workers recognise they may be in situations with young people which could leave either party vulnerable. Youth workers will be open and honest with their supervisor, their organisation, colleagues and appropriate others about these situations and work to generate preferable alternatives.

5. Whakaae Tika | Obtaining Informed Consent

5.1 Youth workers will fully inform young people (and their whānau, school or employer where appropriate) of the Youth Work they are offering and the nature of any proposed involvement, including any significant risk(s).

5.2 It is important to obtain informed consent to participate in youth work and this may need to be written. For specialised activities, with moderate to high risk, written informed consent must be obtained.

5.3 A young person must be able to freely enter into a relationship with a youth worker and be able to cease their involvement with the youth worker when they decide to. However, where the relationship is imposed on the young person (by the Court or otherwise), the youth worker must explain to the young person the meaning and consequences of this. Youth workers in this situation will work towards gaining the young person’s trust and agreement to the relationship.

5.4 Youth workers will fully inform young people of their rights regarding complaints processes.

6. Noho Matatapu | Confidentiality

6.1 The young person’s ability to trust the youth worker to hold information in confidence is fundamental to the relationship.

6.2 When it is clear that confidences might be shared, the Youth Worker will explain the boundaries of confidentiality. These boundaries will take into account the requirements of their organisation, the young person’s culture and the setting youth work is carried out in (such as rural and specific cultural communities).

6.3 Limits to confidentiality, which may lead to disclosure, apply when:

  • The young person or someone else is in danger
  • There is an emergency situation
  • It is required by legislation or the courts
  • The young person is incapable of consenting.

6.4 When information is disclosed, the youth worker will endeavour to obtain the young person’s permission, ideally working with the young person to do so. Where this is not possible youth workers will inform the young person of any disclosure.

6.5 Where information is disclosed, only the minimum required for the purpose should be given.

6.6 Youth workers will comply with the Privacy Act 1993, and in particular will ensure collection, storage, access, correction, use and disclosure of information is dealt with in accordance with this Act.

7. Āhua Tika | Boundaries

7.1 Youth workers will create and maintain culturally and age-appropriate physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual boundaries. Youth workers have an ethical responsibility to hold each other accountable in this regard.

7.2 The purpose of this is to:

  • ensure a safe space for all
  • build confidence in their role as a youth worker
  • avoid unhealthy, dependent relationships.

7.3 Youth workers will endeavour to ensure that young people understand the limits and boundaries of the relationship.

7.4 Youth workers have a personal responsibility to process boundary issues with their support network, including within supervision.

8. Manatū Tangata | Sexual Boundaries

8.1 Sexuality is an integral part of human development. Youth workers need to promote positive attitudes to sexuality and relationships, respecting the young person’s needs, values and beliefs, with consideration to the young person’s whānau and cultural environment.

8.2 The relational nature of youth work makes it a high-risk practice. The safety and wellbeing of young people is paramount, both in the youth work environment and relationship.

8.3 Youth workers will be aware of compromising thoughts or situations and ensure that strategies are in place to help them deal safely with these situations.

8.4 Sexual acts between youth workers and young people they connect with in their capacity as a youth worker are never acceptable.

8.5 Youth Workers will not enter into a romantic relationship with a young person during the time they are working together.

8.6 Once the youth work relationship has finished, youth workers will not enter into a romantic and/or sexual relationship until the power relationship is determined to no longer influence personal decision making. This decision will be made in consultation with their support network, including supervision.

8.7 Sexual acts are never a valid form of therapy, education or assistance.

8.8 Youth workers will not engage in sexual harassment; nor will they tolerate sexual harassment of others (sexual harassment as defined in the Human Rights Act 1993 is acknowledged).

9. Noatanga | Knowing Your Limits

9.1 The youth work relationship has limitations.

9.2 Youth workers have a responsibility to be conscious of the limits of their role, skills and competencies, and must carefully consider whether they can take on a particular role or task.

9.3 In situations beyond their role and/or skill-base, Youth Workers will refer to and/or seek assistance from networks available in the wider community. They also have a responsibility to follow up a referral a short time after it is made.

10. Utu Painga |Personal Agendas

10.1 Youth workers will not abuse their youth work relationships for personal, professional, religious, political or financial gain.

10.2 While youth workers may agree or disagree with other’s beliefs, values, priorities and behaviour, they will treat all people with respect and dignity.

10.3 Youth workers will not abuse their position to manipulate young people to their political, religious, ethnic or cultural beliefs, or to specific communities.

11. Āhua Kōrero, Āhua Taonga |Exchanges between Young People and Youth Workers

11.1 Any exchanges between young people and youth workers will be transparent and handled with sensitivity (acknowledging gifts/koha usually have emotional and/or cultural significance).

11.2 Giving and receiving of cash should be approached with caution.

11.3 Youth workers will be aware of issues of dependency, favouritism, corruption and rescuing in this context.

12. Āhua me te Oranga | Diversity and Cultural Safety

12.1 The youth work relationship is one of mutual respect.

12.2 Youth workers will understand that all aspects of young people’s lives are influenced by the values of the cultural contexts they belong to. A young person’s cultural context can be centred around:

  • geographical community (e.g. their home, neighbourhood, place of study, work place, marae or church)
  • identity-/whakapapa-based community (e.g. culture, ethnicity, marae, iwi, hapū, whānau, spirituality or faith, their gender or gender identity, sexuality, or people of mixed abilities)
  • community of interest (e.g. various youth subcultures, youth organisations).

12.3 Youth workers are encouraged to reflect on and seek to understand their own cultural contexts and those of the young people they work with, and to be aware of how these relate to each other.

12.4 When conflict exists between the cultures of the youth worker and the young person, the youth worker will do everything in their power to ensure the most appropriate people and/or organisations are involved. Youth workers will ensure their practice remains equitable and effective.

12.5 When working with young people youth workers will respect the youth development practices of the young person’s culture.

12.6 Youth workers will allow young people to express their identity freely and safely with consideration to family, whānau and their social environment.

12.7 Youth workers acknowledge and will challenge the attitudes, beliefs, policies and practices that act as barriers to safe youth work and undermine young people and their culture.