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YSED104 The Developing Young Person or YSED105 Ethical Principles and Practice of Youth Work

Unit rationale, description and aim

As individual youth workers, as well as a collective profession, the nature of youth work is deeply rooted in relationship-based practice. This unit will examine the theory and practice of developing and maintaining supportive relationships with young people in youth work settings. Concepts and issues relating to youth worker self-awareness, self-care and building relationships in stressful environments will be addressed. Students will examine contemporary theories on youth work relationships and apply these to various youth work related scenarios. The role of supervision and debriefing, along with developing and implementing exit plans, will also be considered in context of the youth work relationship with young people. The aim of this unit is to understand the nature of informal relationships and identify best practice principles for engaging and supporting young people in various settings.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify practical and transferable skills that assist in relationship building with young people (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5) 

LO2 - Design or identify existing practical and ethical activities that foster the development of support relationships with young people (GA1, GA5) 

LO3 - Explain how young people’s diversity, life experiences and social world impacts on the models of support relationships in youth work settings (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6) 

LO4 - Evaluate the role of supportive relationships with young people, be familiar with literature on the value of support relationships in youth work practice and apply these theoretical understandings to supporting at risk young people (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • Principles and theoretical perspectives that inform the development of genuine supportive relationships in youth work practice, and in particular the therapeutic role of supportive relationships can play 
  • The value and importance of authenticity in the youth work relationship  
  • Youth work models which seek to support young people, i.e. group work, outreach, program delivery, informal helping relationships, and information and referral services 
  • The importance of applying a contextual understanding of boundaries in youth work relationships  
  • Consideration of how support relationships are informed by young people’s diversity
  • Major ethical issues facing workers providing support relationships to young people, including reference to the Victorian Youth Sector’s Professional Code of Ethics e.g. power imbalances, confidentiality, law, trust, gender relations, sexuality, equity and ethnicity, cultural awareness and cultural competency; making referrals 
  • Consideration of how youth workers build support relationships with young people who present with challenging behaviours
  • Working in relationship with vulnerable and at-risk young people  
  • Navigating the challenges presented in the youth work relationship when the youth worker is confronted with personal and values-based dilemmas. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit has been designed to develop and deliver learning outcomes over 150 hours. The learning activities engage students in a variety of experiences through which students will encounter a variety of set readings, weekly lectures, guest lectures and practice-based learning scenarios to enhance and compliment their learning experience. Lectures will deliver a dynamic learning environment where students are presented with theory and discuss its implications for professional practice. Tutorials will provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate, and encounter, a variety of practical relationship-building engagement tools that are transferable to daily youth work practice.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The engagement tool is designed to assist the development of practical and transferable skills that assist in relationship building with young people. During tutorials, students will deliver a practice-based activity to demonstrate this and, equally, students will participate in these activities to further enhance and diversify their learning experience.  

The written task is designed to allow students to demonstrate their grasp of theory that informs the ethical development and implementation of supportive working relationships with young people. Using a case study, students will demonstrate a grasp of relevant theory and its applications to specific youth work related settings.  

The third task is a self-reflection. Through the use of set scenarios, it allows the student to identify and articulate areas of practice they might find themselves challenged by. This provides the student with an opportunity to demonstrate a connection between theory and their own self in professional practice. This task allows the student to signpost areas of support and supervision they may need to enact when they are in relationship with young people.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Engagement Tool 

Students will deliver a practice-based activity to demonstrate development of practical and transferable skills that assist in relationship building with young people. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6 

Written Task 

Students are required to demonstrate written communication skills and theoretical analysis in an essay on building relationships with young people. 


LO1, LO3, LO4, 

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, 



Students are required to submit a self-reflection using case-studies on building relationships with at risk young people. 



GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Batsleer, J 2017, Youth working with girls and women in community settings: A feminist perspective, Routledge. 

Batsleer, JR 2008, Informal learning in youth work, Sage. 

Cooper, C, Gormally, S & Hughes, G 2015, Socially just, radical alternatives for education and youth work practice: Re-imagining ways of working with young people, Palgrave Macmillan, UK. 

Harms, L 2015, Working with people: Communication skills for reflective practice, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Vic. 

Hart, P 2016, ‘Young People Negotiating and Maintaining Boundaries in Youth Work Relationships: Findings from an Ethnographic Study of Youth Clubs’. Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 19, no. 7, pp. 869-884. 

Ingram, G, Harris, J 2001, Delivering good youth work: A guide to surviving and thriving, Russel House, Dorset UK. 

Lohmeyer, BA 2017. ‘Restorative Practices and Youth Work: Theorizing Professional Power Relationships with Young People’, Young, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 375-390. 

Ruch, G, Turney, D & Ward, A 2018, Relationship based social work: Getting to the heart of practice, 2nd edn, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. 

Sapin, K 2013, Essential skills for youth work practice, 2nd edn, Sage, London 

Walker, R, Robinson, M, Adermann, J & Campbell, M [2nd edn] 2014, ‘Working with Behavioural and Emotional Problems in Young People.’ Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental and Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice 383-397. Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet: Canberra, A.C.T. 

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