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Engaging and partnering with young people

Multi coloured weaved lines

In 2012 we drew up a set of aspirational commitment statements outlining how we aimed to partner with young people. Today those statements reflect our active practice, and are highlighted through Berry Street's Y-Change initiative.

About Y-Change

Our Y-Change initiative is a social and systemic change platform for young people aged 18 to 30 with lived experiences of socioeconomic disadvantage. Y-Change works to shift the attitudes and mindsets of organisations and the wider community sector about the value of lived experience and of young people's expertise.

At Berry Street, we've been able to take the time to find better ways of working in partnership with young people.

Commitment to youth engagement

We've made a commitment to engage and partner with young people with a lived experience in our work because we see them as experts and peers in their own right. We have a lot to learn from young people about social change, systems and contemporary childhood and young adulthood.

We are committed to challenging ourselves to find the best ways to support young people to share their knowledge. For young people who experience systemic oppression, genuine opportunities for participation are limited. We exist to redress this balance.

Our work alongside young people is based on the following principles:

1. Equality of expertise

We believe expertise that comes from experience is valuable in the same way as expertise that comes from formal learning. Young people are experts in the experience of being young in the world today, which is why we value their participation in the same way as researchers, professionals and other stakeholders.

2. Young people are not just the subjects of our work, they are our partners in it

We aim to work alongside young people, not just tap into them as a resource as and when it suits us. This includes from the very beginning of an idea being born, to the end of something and its evaluation phase.

3. Being challenged is how we grow

We expect young people to challenge us. We hope we challenge them too.

4. One young person does not equal all young people

We recognise that everyone brings different perspectives to an issue. We won’t ask one young person to speak for all young people.

5. Accessibility

We want all young people to be able to talk to us about the issues that affect them, so we’ll do what we can to make that possible.

6. The person fits the project

We don’t engage young people just because they’re young. We work to engage all our partners, young and older, in projects that align with their interests and skills.

7. Safety

We won’t ask young people working with Berry Street to place themselves in a situation or space that makes them feel unsafe emotionally, physically, culturally or spiritually.

8. No false expectations

We do what we say we will do, we’re clear on our limitations, and we like to get all perspectives before we act on an idea or an issue. Young people are one of a diverse range of stakeholders with an interest in issues affecting childhood and youth.

9. Setting up for success

We equip young people with the information, skills and support to make sure their experience of working with us is meaningful and contributes to strength, growth and positive change – theirs and ours. Learning from mistakes is success in our eyes too; failure isn't negative if you learn from it.

Read the Y-Change Project Evaluation

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Get in touch

If you'd like to explore youth engagement and lived experience practice at Berry Street or connect with our Y-Change team, please contact Morgan Cataldo, our Senior Manager Youth Engagement and organise a time to connect.

Morgan Cataldo
Phone 0455 954 991

Learn more about how we do things

Apply to join Y-Change

We are currently redesigning our employment and training model and hope to start recruiting again soon. All our offerings are co-produced alongside our team of Lived Experience Consultants. To learn more about co-production, here’s a great introduction by Social Care Institute for Excellence.

Y-Change accepts expressions of interest from young people throughout the year – we’d love to connect with you and see if you want to be added to our recruitment waiting list. Please share your details through the enquiry form and the team will be in touch.

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