Social media use by youth services has been a divisive issue in
the Australian Youth Sector, with many advocating for and against
its use. The key barrier to using social media to engage and
support clients for many youth workers is the danger of blurring
professional boundaries, and exposing youth support workers to
inappropriate or constant contact from clients.
According to the Youth Action and
Policy Association NSW, the top questions that youth workers
- should we be on social media?
- what platform should we use?
- do young people want us there?
- aren't there problems with our youth workers being 'friends'
with young people?
- won't they always be on shift if they use their Facebook
- aren't there problems with privacy online?
- but we don't have any events to promote, what's the good of
In response to these and the many other burning questions
impacting on the youth sector's use of social media, YAPA has
prepared a model policy to assist youth services in negotiating
this challenging area. Built atop the NSW Youth Work Code of
Ethics, which YAPA endorsed as a voluntary code to guide youth
workers in 2004, the policy document maps the use of social media
against the core ethical principles identified by youth workers,
and examines how this dilemmas can be resolved.
Dean Williamson, the Policy & Projects Officer at YAPA who
developed the new resource, said "The first interesting point that
made itself apparent is that youth services may actually
have an ethical imperative to be online! The rationale:
the ethical concept of young people as our "primary client" means
that we should engage with young people in ways that suit them - we
do this all the time with soft entry and street work - so why not
online? …if we think about online engagement as simply another
space with which we engage with young people, it doesn't look that
different to offline."
For more information and to download the resource, visit: