The Methodology

The Urbis (2003) review found the program “is effective as it decreases risk, builds resilience and increases protective factors” (p.70). The review identified the following as elements that achieve this:

  • Focus on well-being: Youth Insearch takes a holistic approach to working with young people, accepting a wide range of at-risk young people onto the weekend workshops, and encourages participation in every session at the weekend workshop, not just those that appear to be most immediately relevant. The atmosphere of the weekend workshop has as much influence as the content of the sessions. Further, the sessions which encourage communication and a safe family-like environment are seen as equally as effective as some of the more serious sessions. 
  • Prevention: In many cases, young people are reported to become more receptive to offers or sources of assistance, friendship and support after their involvement in Youth Insearch, both from people who were on the weekend workshop and also others in their community or family. 
  • Accessibility: The ‘look and feel’ of Youth Insearch is reported by young people to be very much youth-focused and youth-friendly. The weekend workshops are also very inclusive, with considerable efforts made to provide access to young people with physical disabilities, to those who would not be able to afford the weekend workshop, those who are otherwise socially isolated, and so on.
  • Participation: Youth Insearch is based on a very high degree of youth participation in all aspects of their activities (e.g. internal administration, weekend workshop organisation, session facilitation). Indeed, Leaders and Support Adults indicated that youth involvement is one of the elements that sets Youth Insearch apart from other programs for at-risk young people.
  • Quality: While this was the first external evaluation of Youth Insearch’s core weekend workshop program, evaluation questionnaires are completed by young people at the end of each weekend workshop, and an annual review of activities is carried out with all Youth Leaders. 
  • Minimal disruption: Youth Insearch specifically aims to embed young people in local supports and to engage fully with their existing supports. The requirement for young people to be accompanied by a Support Adult is evidence of this, and is unusual for youth programs.
  • Early intervention: Some of the difficulties faced by young people on Youth Insearch weekend workshops are in their ‘early days’. Young people in these situations often report being strongly effected by seeing ‘what might happen to me down the track’ and are motivated to divert themselves from that course. Those with more deeply entrenched problems, however, tend to use Youth Insearch weekend workshops in other ways – as an anchor, or a turning point.
  • Supporting service providers: Youth Insearch provides a one-year training program for new Youth & Adult Leaders and ongoing training for existing Youth & Adult Leaders.
  • Collaboration and partnership: Youth Insearch is in regular dialogue with a range of agencies that work with young people (government and non-government), particularly as sources of referral into the weekend workshops. Referral from the weekend workshops to external agencies is more limited, as Support Adults who attend with young people are typically responsible for such matters.