A brief history

The history of BATForce charts major shifts in political and public attitudes to young people in Australia for nearly 45 years.

BATForce has its roots in the late 1970s when activism around youth unemployment was a catalyst for noisy collaborative action to demand a better deal for young people. Around this time the State Government (then) Community Services Victoria established a network of community driven human services planning bodies called Regional Consultative Committees, charged with the responsibility to assess local need and provide clear information directly to the Minister. The Barwon Regional Consultative Committee operated a number of ‘Taskforces’ or sub committees to consider issues, projects or population groups. Youth workers put up their hand to form an “Adolescent Task Force”, which held its first meeting on November 15, 1979.

The Adolescent Task Force was supported by the Barwon Regional Consultative Committee to establish a clear road map for the future development of services, which took nearly six years and resulted in the ‘Youth Policy’ in the International Year for Youth, 1985. During the extended consultative and planning process new agencies were formed and new approaches to consulting with young people were developed. Many elements of the road map were implemented as the plan was being developed.

From 1985 to 1990 Adolescent Task Force member agencies implemented further areas of the Youth Policy and became independently incorporated 1988.

By 1990 the Barwon Adolescent Taskforce (Inc) had established a structure and collaborative culture that enabled youth agencies to develop as a highly co-ordinated service sector.

The mid 90s saw a number of changes in the region including the amalgamation of local governments across the region and later compulsory competitive tendering under the Kennett government in 1996.

Since the primary clients of BATForce are youth and community sector workers, and the primary role is to act as a peak coordinating body this source of funding was no longer available.

At the same time the State Government announced a tender for a new source of funding, the School Focused Youth Service (SFYS), which was specifically targeted not at direct service delivery.

“The primary focus … to provide assistance to schools and youth service providers to better address the needs of young people. … will not develop its own client base. It will however through schools and service agencies, facilitate linkages and cooperative flexible working relationships to ensure that young people receive appropriate and timely support. … will promote cross – sectoral collaboration designed to improve the integration of support services for young people and their families.”

In recent times BATForce has continued to be responsive to the needs of the Alliance and continues to be heavily supported by the sector. BATForce will continue to provide the current level of support and development to the region and has embarked on a 3 year business plan. The alliance will continue to seek funding with full support of the alliance. Onward and upward.

In 2007 BATForce began its partnership with United Way. For the alliance this was a good fit, giving BATForce the independence it needed to continue supporting Young People in the region. The focus at BATForce continues to remain what can we do to improve the opportunities for all Young People.