The Y-Change Project

Project contact

Prof. Helen Cahill

Project Details

The Y-Change project, undertaken in 2016, involved the commissioning of the Youth Research Centre (the University of Melbourne) to undertake an evaluation to examine the new youth leadership and social change program developed by the Berry Street Childhood Institute – Y-Change.

Y-Change is a pilot initiative which aims to provide opportunities for young people who have experienced disadvantage. The program recognises these young people as experts of their own experiences, as leaders, agents of change and advisors on matters affecting those young people experiencing disadvantage. The program engages a select group of young people providing opportunity for them to lead and be heard and invites them to shape and direct future initiatives targeting disadvantaged youth.

In addition to providing young people with voice in matters that affect them and structures that support them, Y-Change aimed to empower young people, providing them with the opportunity to develop specific leadership skills. Training young people in public speaking, media and communications, and workshop facilitation provides those who have experienced disadvantage within a service setting with support to develop personal and leadership abilities, in addition to recognising young people as experts of their own experiences.

The Y-Change Project adopted Professor Helen Cahill’s 2016 framework to inform and guide the evaluation of the pilot program. This model has been created for program planners, facilitators and evaluators and acts as a framework to structure meaningful, inclusive and ethical participation. This model can be used to consider the 6P’s of participation when involving youth in programming. This involves attending to the Purpose, Process, Positioning, Protection, Perspectives and Power Relations when creating participatory programs.

Using this framework to guide the evaluation, Y-Change demonstrates how young people can be seen as key contributors and can play a role in supporting the development and improvement of the programs that affect them. Y-Change demonstrates that when young people are provided with a platform to contribute and are positioned as change makers, both benefits to the program and the individual can result. Reflecting on lived experience, young people were able to provide informed guidance helping to shape programs to ensure they are targeted and effective. Similarly, this involvement offered significant benefit to the individuals involved, developing their leadership skills and improving their sense of agency and wellbeing.

Download the Y-Change Berry Street Publication [PDF 2.1MB]


Berry Street Childhood Institute

Published Research

Crofts, J., Beadle, S., Cahill, H., & Romei, K. (2017). The Y-Change Project: Innovation in youth participation, youth leadership and social change. An evaluation of the 2016 pilot phase. Melbourne, Australia: Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.


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Youth Research Collective