Place-based, practical, and purposeful

Brimbank City Council area starts 11 km west of Melbourne’s central business district with business, industry, homes and schools side by side. With suburbs including Deer Park, Sunshine, St Albans, Keilor and Sydenham, the Brimbank community is busy, complex, and diverse. The priority for the Youth Services team at Brimbank City Council is understanding and supporting all in the community, especially their young people. One way they do this is by coordinating individual school participation in the Living Ripples process. Since starting in 2021, the Youth Services team have seen a steady increase in involvement and with that, new approaches, programs and many more possibilities.

The focus of the Brimbank City Council Youth Services team is on early intervention and advocacy for young people between the ages of 10 and 25 years. The key for Team Leader, Dean James, in doing this well is ensuring “the voices of young people are heard from the beginning in a way that is coordinated and respected”. Implementing the Living Ripples process with schools is one way the Council fosters a youth-led model.

Coordinating with all the schools has enabled a whole of community approach for the Council and four years on, the approach continues to prove vital. The strength of the community wide coordination enables internal Council programming to be informed using real time data, fosters collaboration and engages more people within the community.

The Youth Services team partner with RMIT and Victoria University offering third year students completing Youth Work qualifications formal placement with the Council where they help deliver the Living Ripples survey and analyse the findings. This model of delivery is being expanded to mentor senior secondary students to support in-school engagement with the survey and increase the number of participating schools.

For the Council, this direct connection with the schools provides a “richer understanding of the strengths and need for our young people”. For Dean James, he says this works particularly well when schools develop their individual School Wellbeing Action Plan. “This has improved internal programming and brought more people into the space to support our young people,” he said. “We are beginning to see common issues in very specific year groups across a number of schools and this is enabling us to put in additional supports which may include building a new program or a slight adjustment to our existing programs and services” he says. Team member Nicole Sotiriou said this approach works because “local schools are actively looking for support and having a connected and active Youth Service means we are a valuable local asset”. “We have a place-based approach and seek to make connections that are meaningful and relevant that utilises how and where young people like to connect. Using the Living Ripples process helps us better support them” she says.

In three years, there has been a 50% increase in uptake with 26 schools currently engaged: 12 secondary schools and 14 primary schools. To further develop connections, the Brimbank Youth Services team are keen to host a secondary schools symposium later this year to connect, meet and expand local services that young people tell them they need.


Visit website
Keep looking

Related profiles