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Cover (small) September 2008 Youth Studies Australia

Who cares?

The title of this editorial came to mind because it seemed that one or more readings of that question could be applied to each paper in this issue.

The features sections starts with a paper that asks whether governments really care about the inclusion of young people and, if so, why. Kathy Edwards suggests that past, neoliberal Australian Government policy has excluded young people from participation in their communities, while current policy runs the risk of considering inclusion predominantly in terms of young people's 'usefulness' to the state.

The second paper looks at the question of whether young people care about the environment. Emma Partridge's examination of the literature reveals that this question is difficult to answer for a number of reasons; however, it appears that many young people experience a paralysing 'disconnect between social concern and personal action' when it comes to environmental issues.

'Who cares?' takes on yet another connotation in the third paper, which looks at the strong influence of young people's perceptions of their peers' drinking behaviour on their own drinking behaviour. Tasmanian researchers hope that young people in trials in rural communities will reduce their alcohol consumption after being made aware that the actual drinking behaviour of their peers is more restrained than their own perceptions of peers' behaviour suggest.

The topic of youth workers and stress raises many questions about who cares and for whom. Who cares if a youth worker is stressed? Is the youth worker aware of his or her level of stress? Does the team or organisation care? Has the worker stopped caring about young people? Do team members care more about each other than young people? Or does the organisation care more about young people than its workers? Vaughan Bowie provides an invaluable resource for recognising signs of stress, diagnosing problems in the workplace and implementing changes to alleviate youth workers' stress.

In the fifth paper, Rob White outlines the manner in which the concepts of 'moral panic', 'risk', 'responsibility', 'rehabilitation' and 'social justice' have shaped juvenile justice in Australia. All these concepts are associated with care, but some involve more concern for young people's welfare than others. White concludes that 'the practices of juvenile justice ultimately have to be located within an overarching framework of social justice'.

The final paper eloquently demonstrates the power of caring. The yshareit project, which aims to increase young people's awareness of and access to reputable e-mental health resources, relies on the ability and willingness of young people to care for each other. It promotes a model that encourages young people to take on an ambassador role and educate their peers about e-mental health resources.

Despite the shorter days and falling temperatures, the feeling in this edition of Youth Studies Australia, and in the youth field in general, seems to us to be one of excitement and encouragement. We hope you find these papers as interesting and informative as we have in their preparation.