Credit points


Campus offering

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YSED304 Working with Vulnerable Young People

Unit rationale, description and aim

 Youth workers are advocates for young people and are often acting as agents of change. Therefore, they must understand how their practice is influenced by the social policy of the Government of the time, as well as understand how to influence that policy. This subject will include an understanding of how policy is developed, the range of mechanisms utilised and how to engage in those mechanisms. This unit will also assist students to develop the skills to engage young people in policy and research processes. The aim of the unit is to develop knowledge and skills that students will use in their youth work practice and learn how research informs program delivery, evaluation and policy development. It will also explore some of the key policy institutions and policy frameworks which impact young people's lives. The unit will enable students to critically analyse key aspects of historical and contemporary youth policy and consider the ways in which policy impacts the lives of young people and the practice of youth work. 

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 - Describe and discuss key policy concepts, processes, institutions and actors involved in the creation of policy related to young people (GA4, GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Apply critical analysis and research skills in order to engage in policy analysis and advocacy related to youth work practice (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO3 - Consider and critically analyse how social, political, economic and ideological influences shape policy (GA2, GA4, GA8)

Graduate attributes

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

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


  • Policy-making processes in the youth work sector.  
  • Introduction to theoretical perspectives on policy.  
  • Contemporary trends in youth policy. 
  • How young people experience and interact with the state through examining youth policy. How youth is constructed as a category of policy, discussing contemporary issues such as youth homelessness, health and legal issues. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10-credit point face-to-face unit provides hands-on learning, including collaborative learning. It takes the form of a face-to-face class incorporating activities through which students will gain a deep understanding of the key aspects of historical and contemporary youth policy and consider the ways in which policy impacts on the lives of young people and the practice of youth work. Key learning activities in tutorials will include debating, learning to ‘read’ and interpret policy sources, reading, writing, group discussion, finding scholarly sources, and problem-solving. The lectures provide students with content and analytical frameworks necessary for understanding and analysing policies and policy development and assist students to synthesise a broad range of material.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments in this unit encourage students to engage with the scholarship surrounding youth policy to inform the development of a policy submission (written piece 2 – policy submission), critically examine policy and how it impacts on young people’s lives and investigate the historical, political, social (written piece 1 – impact of policy on young people), and practical skills in engagement with young people around policy issues (written piece 3 - protocols) 

The schedule provides scaffolded learning with opportunities for students to monitor their own progress, practise their skills and receive feedback. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Written Piece 

Students are required to identify an Australian youth policy and discuss how it impacts on the lives of young people



GA4, GA5, GA9

Assessment Task 2: Policy Submission 

Students are required to develop policy submission that utilizes social, critical and/or political theory to advance the interests of young people.  


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 3: Class Presentation 

Students present for 15 minutes on the protocols developed on engaging with young people in research and policy. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Alldred, P, Cullen, F, Edwards, K & Fusco, D 2018, The Sage handbook of youth work practice, Sage, London. 

Althaus, C, Bridgman, P & Davis, G 2013, Australian policy handbook, 5th edn, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW. 

Cuneen, C, White, R & Kelly, R. 2015, Juvenile justice, Oxford University Press, NSW. 

Koorie Youth Council (2018), Ngaga, -Dji (Hear me), Young voices creating change for Justice, Youth Affairs Council Victoria, Melbourne.  

White, R, Robards, B & Wyn, J 2017, Youth and society, Exploring the social dynamics of youth experience, 5th edn, Oxford University Press: Melbourne. 

Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (2016), Youth Policy 2016: Building stronger youth engagement, YACVIC, Melbourne.  

Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (2018), Youth work matters: Strengthening young people’s access to youth workers across Victoria, YACVIC, Melbourne.  

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