Throughout this essay, we will explore the Code of Ethical Practice for Youth Workers in Victoria, which has been adopted and promoted by the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic). It will break down the code, its purpose and relevance and how it works in conjunction with young people. The document contains a set of principles and practice responsibilities that reflect underpinning values that inform youth work practice. The ten youth work practices responsibilities and the practices can correlate with various different ethical dilemmas, which will be dissected analysed in the body of this essay for the purpose of applying it to the youth work context.
A code of ethics can be defined as a particular set of guidelines, which are established to set out desirable behaviours and expectations for members of a certain group, profession or association. The Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic) document, first published in November 2007, was developed in order to provide an agreed framework and set of values for professional practice.
It provides a frame of reference in which to develop ethical and safe practice. (Youth Affairs Council of Victoria 2007) YACVic work alongside the government and serve as advocates for the interest of all qualified youth workers, young people, young individuals without a youth work qualification and organisations that provide direct services to young individuals. A youth worker is an individual who is responsible for facilitating the personal, social and emotional development of young people aged 12- 25 in an informal setting and through educational processes. The YACVic model aims to target a wide range of young people, involve them in activities and engage them on issues that directly affect them. The Code of Ethical Practice model is dynamic as it addresses The following is an ethical dilemma that took place last year in an English as an additional language (EAL) school environment. A Samoan student aged twelve is an EAL learner who recently came to Australia in the last six months. The student has very minimal English in comparison to his classmates as he is a new arrival and because of this, he tends to get easily distracted during class time, as he cannot fully understand what is being said. His teachers have noticed that during recess time, the student causes lots of trouble out in the yard with his peers and finds it amusing when he is given a reaction. The students’ teacher has decided that in order to elaborate on the life cycle unit been covered in class, she would like to take her students on a day excursion to the Bundoora Park Farm to investigate the cycle of living things from birth to adulthood. The students’ teacher however, is thoroughly convinced that she would not like to allow the student to take part in the excursion due to his constant immoral behaviour and has made him aware of this in front of the class. What do you do? In this situation there is quite a lot that needs to be uncovered. Firstly, the language barrier between the student, his teachers and peers is an element that automatically needs to be taken into consideration in the decision making process. This language barrier is what causes the lack of understanding of expectations as the student cannot withhold or comprehend the instructions that have been given to him, therefore, is what triggers and provokes the misconduct. The first step in ensuring the right decision is made, is identifying the problem, addressing it, then develop a solution and create a plan to ensure that the student feels a sense of inclusion. In the light of youth work values and principles, the teacher is clearly not enabling and ensuring that young peoples participation (Youth Affairs Council of Victoria 2007) is crucial. This becomes evident, as the teacher has not given the student the opportunity to engage in a conversation or meeting where he can discuss how he is feeling at school and why he may be behaving the way he is. In this instance, it would be appropriate for the teacher to involve the student in the problem- solving process meeting so that he will be able to gain an understanding of what the teacher’s expectations are and why she feels as though he is not deserving of attending the excursion. Along with this, the student can pinpoint his issues and accept that his behaviour is unacceptable even though it may be considered as normal’ behaviour in his home country Samoa. After the meeting has been commenced, preferably with a school translator, the student and teacher should aim to develop a plan together that will need to be implemented by the student so that he can have the opportunity to take part in the excursion. By informing the student that he will not be able to participate in the excursion in front of his classmates, the teacher is showing that she has no respect for young people’s human dignity and worth. To work ethically with the young person, the teacher needs to ensure that the Anti- Oppressive Practice: Non-Discrimination, Equity and Self- Awareness (Youth Affairs Council of Victoria 2007) is set in place rather than call the student out in front of his class and segregate him from the excursion. This act requires the teacher to be non- discriminatory and to overcome inequities by setting aside her personal beliefs in order to respond to the needs of the young person. The Anti- Oppressive Practice ensures that all workers will promote equality of opportunity and the teacher will be able to do this by allowing the student to take part in the excursion after he has met the standards and expectations she has set out for him. This can be considered as a fair decision as the teacher needs to embrace diversity, accept the students’ differences, as he is foreign to the rules in Australia and guide him so that he can be an active participant in the community.The following is an ethical dilemma that I witnessed during my first year of placement. A student teacher had attended a school, as it was her first time taking part in her placement rounds. The student teacher took the first day to get to know the students and bonded strongly with her mentor teacher. Despite the good relationship they instantly had, the student teacher quickly began to realise that for the most part of the day, the children misbehaved. On the second day of her placement, the mentor teacher had a personal emergency and left the room immediately. The student teacher felt very uncomfortable in the situation especially as two of the children at that point started to fight with each other. The student teacher wanted to intervene but was unsure whether to leave the room and ask for assistance in finding another teacher or to stay in the room unsupervised and try to stop the two children from fighting. What is the next step?In summary, there is no doubt that the YACVic Code Of Ethical Practice for Youth Workers outlines a set of practice responsibilities and principles to promote empowerment, purposeful engagement and inclusiveness amongst young people. The document not only allows for youth workers to make a difference in an individual’s life but also emphasises inherent moral elements such as equal opportunity, cultural competence, openness, honesty and loyalty which can ultimately make a great impact on a young persons wellbeing. The principles and practice responsibilities play a vital role in providing workers with guidance in how to act when certain ethical dilemmas arise. They serve as a reminder that moral reasoning capacity along with internal values can help in making significant, positive changes to the communities in which they operate.