East Kimberley Youth Services Network Evaluation Report
This report presents the findings and lessons learnt from an evaluation of the East Kimberley Youth Services Network. The Network was established in 2008 as a joint initiative between the Australian and Western Australian Governments and the Shires of Wyndham-East Kimberley and Halls Creek to provide a coordinated approach to youth services in the region. The Network supported the provision of youth services in Kununurra, Wyndham, Kalumburu, Warmun, Halls Creek, Ringer Soak, Billiluna, Mulan and Balgo.
The evaluation was jointly commissioned in 2012 by the Attorney-General’s Department and the former Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The aim of the evaluation was to assess what impact the Network had on:
- Reducing and preventing volatile and other substance use
- Improving justice, health and life outcomes
- The coordinated delivery of youth programmes in the region, including supporting infrastructure.
Site visits were undertaken in each of the nine communities and face-to-face or telephone interviews were conducted with 79 stakeholders. The stakeholders interviewed included youth workers and their employers, local service providers, government agencies and non-government organisations.
Overall, the evaluation found that the Network had a positive impact on youth service delivery and coordination in the region.
- The Network increased the availability and diversity of youth activities
- Investments were made in youth service infrastructure
- Youth services were provided at times of highest need
- Young people contributed to the design and delivery of activities
- There was an increase in collaboration and coordination between service providers attributable to the Network
- A network model for service delivery aligns with good practice and provided opportunities to overcome isolation for youth workers, assist in knowledge transfer and facilitate resource sharing.
The evaluation also found that the Network and associated youth services were critical elements of the region’s volatile substance use response and prevention strategy.
The evaluation identified areas for improvement including: clearer governance arrangements, greater strategic direction and coordination at a regional level, engaging parents and the wider community in programme design and delivery, attracting and retaining suitable youth workers, increasing employment opportunities for Indigenous trainee youth workers, longer term and less complex funding arrangements, and a stronger focus on performance monitoring and improvement.