|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Prior to 1970 the Government role with respect to young people was primarily divided between neglected children and juvenile offenders. Neglected children were often made wards of the State (see welfare services (neglected children)) while juvenile offenders were incarcerated (see youth training centres).
The Youth Welfare Division of the Social Welfare Department was established in 1970 under the Social Welfare Act 1970 (No.8089). This Division had responsibility for the social welfare of young persons and for the control of young persons in remand centres, youth training centres and youth hostels and the management of such State institutions. Welfare services for young persons other than wards or juvenile offenders were provided under this legislation (see welfare services (youth)).
The Social Welfare Act 1970 also provided for the constitution of a Youth Advisory Council to recommend to the Minister measures for the furtherance of the moral, intellectual and physical welfare and development of youth, to recommend the making of payments out of the Youth Organizations Assistance Fund and to promote and co-ordinate the activities of clubs and organizations with respect to the welfare of youth.
The Chief Secretary (VRG 26) exercised responsibility for functions relating to young people until the creation of the Youth, Sport and Recreation portfolio (VRG 66) in 1972. The youth affairs function initiated by the Social Welfare Act 1970 expanded considerably under the Youth, Sport and Recreation Act 1972.
The 1972 Act aimed at "acknowledging the positive potential of youth ... and providing opportunities for the development of that potential" rather than viewing youth work in terms of crime prevention. The Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation (VRG 66) became responsible for: the development of a State Youth policy; conduct of research into the needs of young people; provision of leisure activities for young people in co-operation with community organisations and municipalities; providing support to the State Youth Council; and financial assistance to youth organisations. The correctional and remedial aspects of youth welfare continued to be administered within the Social Welfare Department (VA 946) within the Community Welfare Services portfolio (VRG 60).
The State Youth Council (VA 2200) was constituted under the 1972 Act, replacing the Youth Advisory Council. The State Youth Council was required to advise the Minister on all aspects of youth in society and to advise on the policy and principles which should govern the allocation of financial assistance for youth work from the State Youth Fund. The inaugral meeting was held in April 1973.
The development of youth affairs within the Youth, Sport and Recreation portfolio ensured that the initial focus was on providing financial assistance for recreational activities and services for young people. The groundwork for youth policy development began with the funding of the Youth 2000 series of consultative forums. By the late 1970's, early 1980's issues such as youth employment and unemployment, youth training, youth homelessness, special needs of young women and ethnic youth became a greater focus.
In 1982/83 the Department established pilot youth services development projects in municipalities identified as areas of high youth need and disadvantage as models for youth support services at the local government level.
The Youth Policy Development Council (VA 2666) was established in November 1984 under the Youth, Sport and Recreation (Advisory Councils) Act 1984 (No.10120) to advise the Minister: on the development and implementation of policies concerning young people; setting priorities in relation to youth policies; the participation and consultation of young people in the development of policies; and the evaluation of services provided to young people. The Youth Policy Development Council superceeded the State Youth Council (VA 2200).
In March 1985 responsibility for sections of the Youth, Sport and Recreation Act 1972 relating to youth affairs were transferred from the Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation (VRG 66) to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Affairs (VRG 81). The creation of the Department of Employment and Industrial Affairs (VA 2777) was to develop and manage labour market and youth policies and programs. The youth affairs function was viewed as the promotion of equitable access of all young people to the resources, opportunities and socio-economic structures of the State, through:
development and co-ordination of youth policy
development of opportunities for education, training and employment for youth
support the development and provision of youth programs through the non-government sector.
In 1986 youth affairs passed to the Minister for Labour (VRG 86). The function under these Ministers encompassed: the operation of the Youth Guarantee Scheme; the development of an integrated youth policy and the provision of assistance to young people.
The Youth Affairs Act 1986, proclaimed in May 1986, encompassed the principles underlying the activities of the Youth Affairs Bureau to provide a "legislative mechanism for greater responsiveness from Victoria's policy to the needs of the State's youth".
The function by 1991 encompassed: the promotion of a social justice and equity framework for the development of youth services; the promotion of effective cross-sectoral links with key government agencies in developing youth policies and services; the provision of access to information; the promotion of employment opportunities for young people and a role in the Government's response to youth homelessness.
From circa February 1991 until circa October 1992 the Minister responsible was the Minister for Ethnic, Municipal and Community Affairs. This portfolio was established as part of machinery of government changes and abolished during the subsequent machinery of government changes. For the first time it had brought together functions from quite separate portfolios which, after its abolition, once again became quite separate. For convenience it has been decided not to create a group based on the Ethnic, Municipal and Community Affairs portfolio and hence include the Minister for Ethnic, Municipal and Community Affairs within the portfolios which had undertaken the functions before and after this portfolio. This works neatly for all the functions except youth affairs.
A Minister for Youth Affairs was commissioned for the first time as part of the 1992 machinery of government changes. In order to account for the youth affairs function between its transfer from the Minister for Labour in 1991 until the commissioning of the Minister for Youth Affairs in 1992, it has been decided that the Youth Affairs group should be dated from 1991 and include the Minister for Ethnic, Municipal and Community Affairs as the first Minister in the group.
The Office of Youth Affairs promoted a social justice and equity framework for the development of youth services as well as effective cross-sectoral links with key Government agencies in developing youth policies and youth services. The Office also provided young people with access to information and promoted employment opportunities for young people aged between 15 and 19. The Office also had a lead role in the Government's response to youth homelessness.
The Office of Youth Affairs within the Department of Business and Employment was involved in policy development and analysis of youth issues; youth service development through the provision of subsidies and grants; implementation of youth homelessness policy and other special projects.
The Youth Affairs Act was repealed by the Children and Young Persons (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 1996. The Office of Youth Affairs was not retained after the 1996 election.