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Editorial, June 2007

Gone, but not forgotten

In April 1998, the Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies and the Youth Research Centre held a research and practice symposium called Youth98 at the University of Melbourne. Nine years later, we saw the biggest gathering of the youth field in Australia since then, and, perhaps, ever! Over 850 people attended the ?Are we there yet? national youth affairs conference, organised by YACVic and held in Melbourne in May.

It seems apparent that, against all odds, those working in the youth field are determined to ensure that research, training, policy development and practice in this field are not neglected. The conference provided a rare and important opportunity for a wide cross-section of those working, studying and researching in the field, as well as young people themselves, to exchange ideas, models, arguments and work practices. YACVic and all the contributors, including the state and territory peaks, are to be congratulated for a most successful event.

ACYS and YACVic have decided to devote a section of this issue of Youth Studies Australia to some papers from the conference. We wanted to not only acknowledge the importance of the conference, but also consolidate the information-gathering experience of readers who attended the conference, reveal to those who didn?t attend what they missed out on and encourage all readers to obtain the complete proceedings of the conference, which are being prepared for YACVic by ACYS, and which will be available in July 2007.

The papers we chose reflect the wide range of issues covered at the conference. Georgie Ferrari introduces the selection with a report on the conference, then we move on to Howard Sercombe?s paper on ethical issues for youth workers who live and work within the same community. Howard provides a clear overview of murky issues and suggests practical steps that workers can take to ensure both their own and young people?s safety and integrity.

Of equal interest is research by Dan Woodman and Debra Tyler, who are involved in the Life-Patterns project. They reveal the notable differences that inviting feedback and input from participants in longitudinal research makes to both the data obtained and its interpretation.

Next, Rob Nabben, one of the designers of the youth charter guide for Victorian local government, outlines not only the opportunities that the project provided for better youth?local government engagement, but also the problems that the project encountered both logistically and at the level of corporate culture.

The final conference paper again departs markedly from the previous papers. Ester Mancini-Peņa and Graham Tyson?s research found that young people?s talk about their alcohol consumption was geared towards presenting an image of themselves and their drinking as unproblematic, even when their behaviour was risky.

The two other papers in this edition focus, first, on placing young carers within the social care framework, and, second, on interagency collaboration in a program for students at risk. Bettina Cass?s article, which is reprinted from the SPRC Newsletter, outlines the impact on young people?s lives of their care-giving responsibilities, while the article by Bruce Knight, Cecily Knight and Daniel Teghe assesses the effectiveness of collaborative project from the point of view of both the young people and the workers involved.

Sue Headley