Presentation on theme: "Presented by Janet Jukes & Phil Crane. Early Intervention? The idea that it is better to intervene early to help young people before problems have become."— Presentation transcript:
Presented by Janet Jukes & Phil Crane
Early Intervention? The idea that it is better to intervene early to help young people before problems have become entrenched has become a strong argument in the Australian social policy debate. In the homelessness field, early intervention was recognised in the mid- nineties as a new and promising policy perspective. The establishment of the Reconnect program in 1999 was based on deploying workers to undertake early intervention work with young people and their families in order to repair family breakdown where possible and prevent young people leaving their schools and communities and sliding further into homelessness. In the Federal Government White Paper The Road Home launched in 2008, ‘early intervention’ is highlighted as a key position called ‘Turning off the tap’. Reconnect was earmarked for expansion and then the funds for this expansion were channeled into the COAG reform process.
However….. However, the program wasn’t handed over to the states for further development. Nearly two years on, next to nothing has been done to implement early intervention for homeless young people. Limited resources have been increasingly targeted and this has meant that the flexibility to respond earlier with whatever resources are necessary to head off the problem are simply not available, if ever they were. Has this policy focus stalled?
Why? Early intervention is broadly the same concept across sectors and program areas, however there are some different understandings relative to the issue. But we don’t have a common language of early intervention and we need to. Some fields are still disputing the value of early intervention strategies. A move to more early intervention programs will eventually mean a shift of resources to that end… this is hard to do given the current extent of unmet need.
Where should we intervene in an early intervention? There may be key intervention points in the adolescent life- stage that are important for identifying effective response settings. For example, all young people spend some of their adolescent years in schools and consequently, schools are an important institutional setting where the timely identification of issues is possible. We need to be wary to not create systems creep… we don’t want to intervene when we don’t have to and would never have needed to.
Access is an issue Access to early intervention programs is also an issue. Because of limited funding for human services in all specialist program areas, many programs are targeted towards those in most need. This has resulted in few opportunities for young people and their families to access effective and responsive programs when problems first begin to emerge. Thus, problems often become entrenched and more complex before assistance can be provided.
What does early intervention mean in practice? Can we identify common principles for early intervention for young people that make sense across service systems and program areas? How can early intervention be coordinated so that young people and their needs are central? What do we each need to do to move the early intervention policy discussion from rhetoric to reality?
Contact Janet Jukes Executive Officer Youth Development Australia PO Box 297 Brunswick, Vic 3065