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"The Middle Years: Uncharted Territory?" Conference/Professional Development Day

The Middle Years – the IELLEN & ICRYAN call for greater focus, action

120 delegates packed into the Richmond Town Hall on March 22nd 2013 for the Inner City Regional Youth Affairs Network's Middle Years Conference/PD day.

The Inner City RYAN's Middle Years Working Group, which organised the day, was chaired at the time by the IELLEN's Andrew Neophytou, who worked in close partnership with seven other stakeholders to plan this important and successful event.

On the day Andrew acknowledged the Working Group which, aside from the IELLEN, consisted of representatives from four inner metropolitan LGAs (Stonnington, Port Phillip, Melbourne and Yarra), the Education Engagement Partnership (EEP), Melbourne City Mission, YSAS and Capital City LLEN.

In his opening remarks Andrew said, "the ages between 8 and 14 are not always what they could be," identifying disengagement from school and impacts of family disruption as two examples. "Policy review, improved practices, new models of service... we hope today is a platform for action."

Bernie Geary, OAM, Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People, was the keynote speaker who commended the ICRYAN for staging the Middle Years Conference. He went on to note the "glaring service gap" for this cohort, which receives less attention than the early years, or later adolescence. Whilst acknowledging that young people between 9 and 14 were "slipping through the net" Mr Geary also made the point that this was an age group where providers could "positively intervene".

Among the day's many highlights were:

  • a presentation by Anthony Semann, who made incisive and illuminating comments on the importance of consulting with the middle years age group, and the challenges in doing so;
  • a 5 minute clip, "Reversing the Telescope" (made especially for the day) which provided a glimpse of the thoughts, insights and aspirations held by some of Melbourne's middle years age group;
  • nine diverse workshop sessions, each on a different topic or theme, all professionally delivered by informed, passionate presenters.

A Middle Years Report was released in September 2013 by the ICRYAN and is available here.

 

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