A Youth Perspective: Collaboration for Youth Development within Aotearoa New Zealand
Collaboration is an increasingly popular approach to addressing the multi-faceted needs of youth-at-risk both within academic literature and government policy in New Zealand. Due to being a relevantly new concept, there is limited evidence in the literature regarding how it is being implemented and whether implementations are successful. There is aparticular gap within the literature regarding the experiences of frontline workers and youth themselves. As youth are the key benefactors of youth services it seems important to understand whether and how they perceive the collaborative approach to be working to assist them in their development. To determine this, the following study explores the experiences of nine youth in New Zealand regarding collaborative processes used by services they have been privy to over recent years. Youth participants came from across New Zealand and altogether have experienced a range of youth interventions, from alternative education to Family Group Conferences, aimed at addressing anti-social and criminal behaviours. Taking a phenomenological approach, the study is carried out using concepts from the framework of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). The use of AI ensured the study was strengths focussed and allowed youth to become active agents rather than subjects of enquiry. Furthermore, it has allowed a positive paradigm for discussing ways to ensure that youth services are better focussed on youth's needs, feelings and understandings. Along with the findings regarding collaboration a common theme arose when youth were invited to share their stories which highlighted further areas for discussion when addressing successful service outcomes. That is, the importance of relationship building.