We have identified the five foundations below as vital to the growth and development of all children and young people:
Each foundation represents an important component of a child and young person’s developmental process.
Safety and Stability is the initial foundation pursued. From this place of stability, subsequent foundations, in the order listed above, may then be attained. Although we suggest that the framework for cultivating youth wellbeing follows this distinct pathway, it also highlights the importance of tackling youth development holistically. The foundations work across systems and are interrelated.
“I told my parents I was gay when I was 17. From that day, my father became very aggressive towards me, verbally and physically. I did not feel safe at home anymore. A family friend contacted the gay and lesbian support service and told them about what was happening at home. For my safety, they supported me to leave home and helped me find accommodation. Since leaving my father, I have felt much safer and more stable in my life. I’ve met new friends and I’m even considering having a relationship.” – Lucas, 19
All children and young people must not only feel safe but are protected from risk factors that may impede their developmental process. Children and young people must have the internal and external mechanisms that will enable them to build confidence and independence that is necessary to actively participate in and contribute to their communities.
“I went through a difficult period in my life and I was constantly arguing with my parents. I was skipping school and also stealing money from my mum. When my father found me drunk one night, my parents decided that they had had enough, and kicked me out of home. I couch-surfed at friend’s places until eventually, I ran out of options. One day, in desperation, I was caught stealing by the local police. I was cautioned and then the police put me in contact with a local youth service who were able to find me a stable accommodation. I’m doing much better now, and my parents and I are working things out. I’m looking forward to moving back home again.” – Brian, 17
All children and young people must have access to a safe, non-judgemental home and place. A comfortable place that they identify with and belong to. Home and place should be an environment that promotes growth and fosters positive development.
Trigger warning: self-harm, depression
“Not such a long time ago, I was feeling unstable and unbalanced in my life. Some days were good, and others were dark. During the bad times, I would self-harm and cut myself. My mum never understood why I was hurting myself and believed I was just seeking attention. The conflict at home forced me to leave and sleep rough for a few weeks. A neighbour, who had seen I was sleeping in the park, introduced me to the local youth service, where I spoke with a youth worker. I was taken to the local mental health service and later diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Not everything is resolved, however since taking my medication and talking to a professional I feel much more stable. I feel confident about my future and I think I can make the right decisions about my life.” – Julie, 15
It is vital that all children and young people, particularly during the formative stages of their growth and development, are physically, socially and emotionally well. To ensure this, children and young people must have access to all the necessary prerequisites for achieving health and wellness. Being well and feeling healthy will promote self-worth and ensure children and young people feel competent to participate in their communities.
“My parents kicked me out of home when I told them I was pregnant. I thought that by moving to the city, I would have access to many support services. I soon realised that without my connections to friends and family, everything was so much harder than I expected. I was terrified about my future, I visited the Doctor and told him about my situation. He put me in contact with the local Aboriginal youth service, where I was able to reconnect with my community. I also met other young mothers through their parenting program. With the support of the youth service, I am now excited about my future and my son’s future.” – Jia, 16
All children and young people must be allowed to develop and nurture connections in their lives. Connections to friends, family, community and society promote resilience and social inclusion. Connections and participation ensure that children and young people are protected from damaging and risky behaviours during a formative developmental stage.
“My mother has always battled with drinking and gambling addictions. She was never able to care for me or my siblings. When I was 16, I dropped out of school and started working part-time. I was finally able to support myself. Mum then started to steal my earnings, so I knew I had to leave. I was terrified of ending up depressed and addicted, just like her. My boss found me in tears during a shift, and I finally opened up to someone about my family. It was such a huge relief. My boss was very supportive and together, we found a crisis accommodation service close to work. A few months later, once I was settled, I decided that I wanted to finish school. I was offered an apprenticeship, which enabled me to support myself and study at the same time. For the first time in my life, I feel hopeful and I have started to plan for my future.” – Rachel, 18
All children and young people must be allowed to pursue their educational and professional goals. Education and training are crucial to the growth and development of children and young people. Education and training, including formal tuition and practical life skills, promote self-confidence and independence and provides children and young people with the skills and competencies necessary to enter adulthood.
Work with us towards a society where all young people are valued, engaged and supported.