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Each quarter, our peer reviewed journal publishes up to six research- and practice-based articles on Australian youth. Find out more.

YSA September cover (thumbnail)

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The "parlous state" of music in Australian schools

In February 2007, YFX mentioned Venezuela's excellent school music programs. Fully funded by a succession of Venezuelan governments, they have become an international model that has spurred the creation of similar programs in about a dozen countries in Latin America (view report in the 'The Washington Post' ( In Australia however, the story is different, and a program on ABC Radio National ('Background Briefing' on Sunday 19 July) looked at the "parlous state" of music education in public schools in Australia, and what this means for children's development. The program highlighted not only the cultural dimension that Australian students are missing out on, but also the benefits to brain function and social skills that studying music brings. Listen online at:

The USA's Music National Service Initiative

"We should create a national service corps for musicians and artists to work in public schools and under-served communities ... not only because the arts are important, but because the critical skills a child develops when she struggles with her instrument, writes a song, joins a band or finds her voice in a choir are the same ones needed to succeed in the creative economy and solve our greatest future challenges." In the USA, an initiative called the Music National Service Initiative is piloting this idea. MusicianCorps aims to create a "musical Peace Corps" to increase school and life achievement among disadvantaged youth by expanding access to quality music education. (Source: 'A music service corps could address disadvantage and develop creativity for young people', by Kiff Gallagher, 'Huffington Post', 21 July 2009,, cited by the email newsletter, 'ACSSO Ensemble', v.3, n.6, 2 July 2009,

Musicians Making a Difference (MMAD)

This youth-initiated movement aims to improve the lives of all young people, particularly disadvantaged and marginalised youth, through the power of music, the creative arts and the unconditional positive regard that music brings. MMAD's programs seek to "break the negativity and help young people to reach their full potential". More at:


Sticks and stones and mobile phones

This forum on young people and bullying in the new millennium is taking place in Melbourne on 27 August 2009. Keynote speaker Dr Barbara Spears, of the School of Education, University of South Australia, is the author of a recently published report on bulling, 'Insights into the human dimension of covert bullying'. The forum will include a panel discussion on issues such as bullying in sport, issues for same-sex attracted young people, workplace bullying and young workers and school-based bullying. For details and a registration form, contact the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, email: [email protected]

Covert bullying under-reported

Covert bullying is "one of the most under-reported of all abuses", according to the findings of a recent Australian Government commissioned research project investigating covert bullying among young people. The 'Australian covert bullying prevalence study', conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University, involved around 7,000 young people from 124 schools around Australia, and examined the nature, prevalence and impact of covert bullying (including cyber bullying). It found that one in six students in years 4 to 9 experience covert bullying of some description. Another recent Australian Government commissioned research project, 'Behind the scenes: Insight into the human dimension of covert bullying', conducted by researchers from the Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies at the University of South Australia and the Centre for the Analysis of Educational Futures at Flinders University, detailed the experiences of those affected by covert bullying, including victims, perpetrators, bystanders, teachers and parents. Both of these reports are available for download from the DEEWR Safe Schools website: (Source: 'Education Review', June 2009, p.2.)


Making prevention work: Transforming Australia for our children's future: the ARACY 2009 National Conference

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) 2009 National Conference is to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 2 to 4 September. The theme for this year's conference is 'Transforming Australia for our children's future: Making prevention work'. This conference will focus on how we can best learn from one another and work together to innovate and take action to improve outcomes for young Australians. The conference aims to build links between international and national experts, researchers, policy makers, practitioners, social entrepreneurs, marketers, business and financiers. It will explore pathways to success, and showcase preventive innovations that are improving the lives of children and young people. For further information, visit the conference website: (Source: ARACY 2009 National Conference website, viewed 14 July 2009.)

Here, now and next: YACVic State Conference 2009

YACVic's State Conference for 2009 will be held in Ballarat on 14 and 15 October. This year's conference theme is 'Here, now and next: The state of affairs for young people and workers in Victoria'. The conference will offer workshops and plenary sessions based around five strands: here (regional disadvantage, public space and urban design), now (current issues such as the global financial crisis, mental health and climate change), next (new and emerging issues such as social networking and the professionalisation of the youth sector), a practical workshop strand and a dedicated strand for young people only. For further information about the conference, visit and follow the link to the conference website. (Source: 'Yikes!', v.7, n.2, 2009, p.1.)


Australian Institute of Criminology reports on online grooming for sexual offences

The latest in the AIC's series, 'Research and public policy' n.103, 'Online child grooming: a literature review on the misuse of social networking sites for grooming children for sexual offences', by Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo, describes how the growth of online technologies, particularly social networking sites, has facilitated the "grooming" of children for sexual purposes. It describes the nature and extent of this kind of exploitation by offenders, as well as the responses (both legislative and non-legislative) that can be used to combat this growing problem. The report can be downloaded as a PDF file from: or, (PDF file). Also see the AIC's series, 'Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice', n.379, 'Responding to online child sexual grooming: an industry perspective',, and the AIC 'High tech crime brief' n.17, titled, 'Online child grooming laws', at: (Source: Australian Policy Online, 10 July 2009,, and Australian Institute of Criminology,

'Recent trends in legal proceedings for breach of bail, juvenile remand and crime'

This report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR, the official source of NSW crime statistics) shows that between 2007 and 2008, the juvenile remand population in that state grew by 32 per cent, and the annual recurrent cost of keeping juveniles on remand rose by 29 per cent. "Two factors have contributed to the growth in remand. The first is an increase in the rate at which police are arresting juveniles for breach of bail. The second is an increase in the length of time juveniles are spending on remand." The most common conditions breached were not complying with a curfew order (35 out of 50 cases) and not being in the company of a parent (29 out of 50 cases). Numbers add up to more than 50 because some juveniles breached both conditions. According to BOSCAR, new laws introduced by the NSW State Parliament in December 2007 to stop defendants 'bail shopping' have increased the remand problem by increasing the length of time juveniles are spending on remand. Prior to the introduction of the new law, the average time spent on remand by a juvenile defendant was around 10 to 15 days. The current average period on remand for juveniles is now approaching 35 days. For information, contact Dr Don Weatherburn, (03) 9231 9190. View the report at: (Source: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, 'Recent trends in legal proceedings for breach of bail, juvenile remand and crime ', media release, 1 July 2009,

Adolescent stalkers

To date, research on stalking has focused almost exclusively on adults. A recent Australian Institute of Criminology paper (full details below) looks at adolescent stalking to determine the characteristics of these stalkers and their victims and the usefulness of intervention orders for managing that behaviour. Findings show that most young perpetrators are male and almost all their victims knew them either through prior relationships (e.g. school peers, family members, ex-intimate partners or former friends). In most cases, threats and physical assaults occurred and the victim impact of adolescent stalking mirrors that reported by adult victims. Adolescent stalking, unlike adult stalking, happens usually in the context of bullying. Intervention orders were granted in almost half of the study cases. Longitudinal research is needed to understand the impact of adolescent stalking on its victims, the reasons for the high rate of victims discontinuing intervention orders; rates of perpetrator recidivism, and the impact of intervention orders on offenders. The paper arose from the report of research commissioned by the Criminology Research Council, The paper is online, and is also available for purchase in hard copy: 'Adolescent stalking: Offence characteristics and effectiveness of intervention orders', by Rosemary Purcell, Teresa Flower and Paul E Mullen. Australian Institute of Criminology, 'Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice', n.369, March 2009,  or


Drug and Alcohol Findings and the 'Effectiveness Bank'

The UK service Drug and Alcohol Findings ( bridges the divide between research on the effectiveness of responses to drug and alcohol problems and the practitioners who provide those interventions, with a focus on UK-relevant research. The project aims to summarise the findings of studies, place them in context and explore their implications for practice. From 1999 to 2006, the main output of the service was the magazine 'Drug and Alcohol Findings', but this has now been replaced by a free web-based service called the Effectiveness Bank. 'Effectiveness Bank Bulletins' publicise recent evaluation studies that have important practice implications. The latest bulletins are listed at:

Drugs in the Family Project

The Youth Coalition of the ACT's Drugs in the Family Project is a four-year project that began in July 2005. The project is funded through the Council of Australian Governments, National Illicit Drug Strategy Strengthening and Supporting Families Coping with Illicit Drug Use funding policy. An offshoot of the project is the ACT's Training and Professional Development Network, developed in June 2005 as a response to findings from consultations conducted by the Youth Coalition of the ACT. The network takes a coordinated approach towards training and professional development, and responds to needs and emerging issues. It also provides opportunities for community educators and brokers, as well as training and professional development services in the ACT and surrounding region. Find out more from the Youth Coalition of the ACT, ph: (02) 6247 3540, email: [email protected] or visit:

Fathers' alcohol use affects their children

A father's alcohol dependence or abuse may affect the adolescent children (aged 12 to 17) that he lives with, perhaps increasing their risk of alcohol or illicit substance use, according to a new national study. The USA study, titled, 'Fathers' alcohol use and substance use among adolescents', was based on data from 2002 to 2007 drawn from the (US) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and involved responses from 11,056 fathers and 9,537 father-child respondent pairs. Published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the study showed that that adolescents living with a father with an alcohol use disorder had a dramatically higher rate of alcohol use in the past year than the rate of those living with a father who had not used alcohol in the past year (38.8 percent versus 21.1 percent). The study also showed that the vast majority of fathers living with adolescents (68.1 percent) used alcohol, but did not have a drinking disorder. About one third of these fathers' adolescent children engaged in underage drinking in the past year. The study's results highlight the continuing need to educate parents and other role models about the profound impact their drinking behaviour can have on young people. More at:, or go straight to the report at: (Source: AICAFMHA_NEWS, 'News in Brief', n.9.05, 30 June 2009.)

highsnlows: A new campaign and website about cannabis and mental health

This is an initiative of the Australian Drug Foundation, ORYGEN Youth Health, and the Victorian Department of Human Services. The campaign will roll out over the next five months and will feature a series of animated short films following four young people's experiences with cannabis. These films encourage the audience to think about how their mental health and wellbeing may be affected by cannabis use. The first of the films can be found on the highsnlows website along with other information for young people about how cannabis use can affect their mental health and where they can find help. The website includes:
  • an anonymous and professional question and answer service that provides clear, unbiased, non-judgmental answers to any questions about cannabis and mental health (the answers are provided by a panel of health professionals);
  • a safe space for visitors to share their stories and experiences;
  • information about cannabis and mental health; and
  • a searchable database of Australian youth-friendly health services and organisations.
In addition, parents and professionals can find cannabis and mental health information on the DrugInfo website. See: (Source: DrugInfo Clearinghouse,

Cannabis use prevention methods in Australian schools

'Cannabis use prevention methods in Australian schools', by Donna Bull, Anthony Arcuri and Paul Dillon, was published recently by Australia's cannabis clearinghouse, the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC, bulletin n.6). It contains seven very practical recommendations for school programs addressing cannabis use, based on the findings of this review:
  1. Programs should be evidence-based and consistent with Australia's national approach to harm minimisation.
  2. Programs should be interactive in design and delivery, with a mix of program components or types of activities.
  3. Consideration should be given, where appropriate, to supplementing school activity with a parent and community component.
  4. Cannabis drug education programs should be an integrated component of a generic drug education program up until Year 8.
  5. In Years 9 to 12 a separate program or well-differentiated program components should be offered.
  6. Programs should be small in scale, or managed in a way that generates ownership among those involved.
  7. Professional training and practical follow-up support should be offered to teachers to assist delivery of programs without modification and minimise the likelihood of program breakdown.
NCPIC is a consortium led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and is a Department of Health and Ageing initiative. The bulletin is online at:

Harm Reduction 2010

Harm Reduction 2010 is the 21st International Conference from the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA). Since their first event in 1990, these conferences have covered the latest research, practice, developments and policies in terms of the reduction of harms from all psychoactive drugs. The five-day program will feature high-profile keynote speeches, plenary sessions, major sessions, symposia, workshops, training events, a film festival, poster exhibitions, exhibition areas, satellite meetings, social and networking events, and the annual IHRA award presentations. The theme for the 2010 event, to be held in Liverpool in England, is 'Harm Reduction: The Next Generation', and will seek to address questions concerning harm reduction and young people, developing countries, new drugs and new interventions. The conference is expected to cover a wide range of issues, from prisons, drug treatment and drug education to smokeless tobacco, human rights and alcohol misuse. See:


More on young Australians and the Federal Budget

For those who have not yet had a look at what this year's Federal Budget has to offer young Australians, the June-July edition of the NSW youth peak body's magazine, 'YAPRap' features selected highlights from the Australian Government document 'What's in it for youth? A quick guide to youth budget and other relevant measures 2009'. The document is available in full at the government's youth website: (Source: Youth Action and Policy Association of NSW Inc., 'YAPRap', v.19, n.5, 2009, pp.18-19.)

Student Payments Snapshot Factsheet

Centrelink has issued a new factsheet online to provide students and young people with a general overview on payments and entitlements. See:


Oxygen Factory resources

Oxygen Factory is an organisation that provides personal development, leadership and values training for secondary students across Australia. They also produce a range of resources, including 'Oxygen Uptake', a weekly e-zine containing motivational messages for students and teachers, and 'Oxygen for Educators', a free mini-magazine containing topical articles on youth issues and information on upcoming Oxygen Factory motivational seminars for secondary school students, teachers and parents. They have also recently released the book 'Oxygen: 102 Doses of Inspiration', which contains short inspirational messages and activities that teachers can share with their students. This book is particularly suitable for use with tutor, pastoral care or home groups. For further information about Oxygen Factory, visit their website: or email [email protected] (Source: Oxygen Factory website, viewed 14 July 2009.)

Informal education: Youth centre provides an educational alternative

A feature article in the June-July edition of 'YAPRap' highlights the new campus of Blacktown Youth College, based at the Lawson Youth Centre. The Lawson campus provides an alternative educational environment for young people in the Blue Mountains area of NSW who are, for various reasons, unable to cope with formal school settings. The Lawson Youth Centre's School Certificate program uses informal assessment processes and incorporates an extensive art program and a life skills program. For further information about Blacktown Youth College's Lawson campus, visit: (Source: 'YAPRap', v.19, n.5, 2009, pp.14-17.)

Ask the children

In late June, the NSW Commission for Children and Young People issued a report card in the form of two reports, 'I want to work', and 'Children speak about being at school', part of their 'Ask the Children' series of publications. The NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People, Ms Gillian Calvert, spoke about this research in June at the Federal Senate Inquiry into Combining School and Work: Supporting successful youth transitions, saying that new and different approaches are needed to improve school students' wellbeing and to help them make a better transition to work. The reports reflect the opinions of 2,000 children and young people who were either surveyed or interviewed about either their experiences of school or work.

Key findings of the 'Children speak about being at school' report are:
  • Young people want more of a say about schools' decisions that affect them.
  • For some, the best part about school is friendship.
  • Earning environments need to improve the way they accommodate differences in learning styles.
Key findings of the 'I want to work' report are:
  • Two-thirds of young people aged 12-16 years do some form of work while at school and it was a positive activity for them;
  • Most young people start their working lives through informal arrangements with family and friends, expanding into more formal work with businesses from 14 years onward;
  • The challenge for 15- and 16-year-olds was that they wanted to work but couldn't find employment. Some couldn't take up work opportunities because of a lack of transport.
More at:

Engaging college communities: The impact of residential colleges in Australian higher education

This is the latest briefing paper from the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE). It shows there are good reasons behind the growing trend of collegiate education in Australian higher education: university students who live on campus are more engaged with their studies and feel more supported. Some highlights:
  • Students living in residential colleges are more likely than those in the general population to be younger, in their first year of study, from a provincial area, studying full time or an international student.
  • Students living in residence are equally, and in many instances, more engaged than others, particularly in terms of participation in active learning and enriching experiences, their interactions with staff, and their perceptions of support.
  • Differences between residential and non-residential students' engagement grew between first- and later-year cohorts, suggesting that the effects of college accumulate over time.
  • Residential students report greater levels of individually focused support, the kind that retains students in university study.
  • Residential students' learning, development and satisfaction is greater than for those who lived off campus.
The briefing paper can be downloaded from: (PDF format) AUSSE is developed and managed by the Australian Council for Educational Research and was designed to stimulate evidence-focused conversations about students' engagement in university study. Read more at:

Hidden talents: a project for re-engaging young people aged 16 to 25

The new UK project Hidden Talents aims to "look with fresh eyes at the issue of young people who are not in education, training or employment. The UK Local Government Association, based in Westminster, close to the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall, is a voluntary lobbying organisation acting as the voice of the local government sector. The Hidden Talents project was commissioned personally by the Chairman of the LGA. The LGA publication, 'Hidden Talents: Re-engaging young people' is the first in a series of publications and events undertaken by the LGA in association with the UK's Centre for Social Justice in an effort to move the debate about disengaged youth forward, and develop a detailed understanding of how an effective national response is delivered through local government. More at:

VET research from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research

A new Research section on NCVER's website brings together all information relating to research work that NCVER undertakes and makes it easily accessible from the home page. It includes the national vocational education and training (VET) research priorities which will govern VET research activity until 2010, as well as details of research programs and projects, funding rounds and opportunities for researchers. See:


Youth at work: Developing a young workers' toolkit

The Australian Government, through the Australian Youth Forum (AYF), is developing a Young Workers' Toolkit, and wants to hear about young people's experiences at work (both the good and the bad). The toolkit will provide useful information for young people about starting work and getting on with their jobs. An open invitation for youth to contribute their ideas and experiences to the Australian Government is available online in the AYF discussion forums at:

Understanding vocational education and training, productivity and workforce participation

This issues paper, by Justine Evesson, Tanya Bretherton, John Buchanan, Mike Rafferty and Gillian Considine, reports on the first year of a three-year research program. The research aim was to investigate how, if at all, vocational education and training can make a difference in improving productivity and workforce participation. See: (Source: 'NCVER News', n.209, email, 2 July 2009.)


Unite for Climate: A young people's online community

'Unite for Climate' is a growing global online community of young people and organisations working together on youth-powered solutions to climate change. It is designed to facilitate collaboration, coordination and resource sharing. Their website showcase youth initiatives and a clearinghouse of campaigns that users can easily browse and join. See: or email them at [email protected] (Source: 'UN Youth Flash', v.6, n.6, June 2009; a service of the United Nations Programme on Youth,


Multicultural Youth NT

Multicultural Youth NT (MyNT) is a democratic 'youth for youth' organisation established to unify youth from all cultural backgrounds to achieve a better Northern Territory for youth, with more opportunities and greater understanding. Contact: Elizabeth Zeta Warnock, Youth Coordinator, Multicultural Youth NT, email: [email protected]


Optus Connecting Communities Grants Program

The Optus Connecting Communities Grants Program offers grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 to help not-for-profit organisations develop and implement projects that "seek to reconnect disengaged youth and/or reduce social isolation within Australian communities". Grant applications close on Friday 31 July. To apply, visit (Source: 'Third Sector', issue 5, July 2009.)

Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) Small Grants for Small Rural Communities Program

A small grants program for small rural Australian communities will offer about $850,000 a year in grants to benefit people in rural and remote communities. The program is generously supported by a variety of foundations and trusts and the FRRR. Currently, applications that support the following areas of interest will be given preference:
* Community development involving youth
* Resettlement of immigrants in rural Australia
* Community infrastructure
There are two rounds of Small Grants per year. Closing dates are 31 March and 30 September 2009. For more information go to

Commonwealth Bank: 2009 Community Grants Program, media release, 15 June 2009.

The Commonwealth Bank Staff Community Fund has launched its 2009 Community Grants Program to provide over $500,000 in individual grants of up to $10,000 for programs to improve the health and wellbeing of Australian children. Applications opened on 15 June and close on 31 July 2009. To apply, visit (Source: Commonwealth Bank: 'Applications open: Commonwealth Bank Staff Community Fund 2009 Community Grants Program', media release, 15 June 2009.)

Endeavour Awards

Applications for 2010 Endeavour Awards are closing on 31 July 2009 at 11.59 pm (AEDST), and the selection outcomes will be announced in October 2009. Applications for the second round of the 2010 Endeavour Executive Awards open on 1 December 2009 and will close at 11:59pm AEDST on 31 January 2010. More at:
Continued in part 2 ...

2009-07-20 16:36:02

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