The Strategy is based on a positive youth development approach. Best youth work practice fits within this framework as youth workers play a vital role in supporting young people’s positive development.

The informal contexts in which youth work takes place are especially conducive to the development of social environments where young people are accepted, can explore and develop new friendships, seek challenges and take a variety of responsibilities.

Youth workers, in partnership with young people, seek to establish positive social settings, warm supportive relationships, processes which facilitate the growth of young people, opportunities which help young people to be all they can be, and to provide a foundation for independent choice, personal autonomy and responsible behaviour. These are settings in which adults believe in young people and where young people feel safe, cared for, valued and appreciated. They create settings and processes that if managed sensitively by skilled youth workers, can lead to the positive development and enhancement of social and emotional competence of young people.

The Strategy provides a framework that can be applied to the many settings and organisations that contribute to youth development.

The four goals of the Strategy are:

  1. Ensuring a consistent strengths-based youth development approach
  2. Developing skilled people to work with young people
  3. Creating opportunities for young people to actively participate and engage
  4. An informed approach building on youth development through information.

One of the intentions of the Code of Ethics is to reflect how ethical youth work supports young people’s positive development.

The six principles as they appear in the Strategy are:

  1. Youth development is shaped by the ‘big picture’
  2. Youth development is about young people being connected
  3. Youth development is based on a consistent strengths-based approach
  4. Youth development is triggered when young people fully participate
  5. Youth development happens through quality relationships
  6. Youth development needs good information.

We have strategically changed the order of the YDSA principles in our Code of Ethics. The change reflects the significance of different principles in an ethical framework for youth work.

Principle 5 relating to quality relationships appears first in our Code of Ethics as these relationships are the heart of youth work. The unique nature of the youth work relationships is one of the key reasons that the Code of Ethics is necessary. The remaining principles flow from this.