All workers in the community welfare and health industry base their work on a broad platform of ethical principles. These principles act as a guide to how we should treat clients and one another.

Identifying ethical principles for working with clients
Ethical principles in youth and community work
Overhead transparency
Reflection on the ethical principles of your organisation

Identifying ethical principles for working with clients

Brainstorm/group activity

Question - What ethical principles might be applied when working with young people?

Answer
  • a respect for basic human rights
  • a respect for the individual and the right to self-determination
  • a respect for different cultures and religions in society
  • a commitment to empowerment and participatory democracy
  • a commitment to collaborative working relationships and collective action
  • an acknowledgement that all relationships and activities with young people are based on their consent (whenever possible).

Task

The following document 'Ethical principles in youth and community work' explains the above principles in a broader detail.

Check whether there is a similar document at your workplace. Read through it and discuss it with other learners or colleagues.

Ethical principles in youth and community work

  • Respect for basic human rights
    Basic human rights include the right to food and shelter, the right to a fair trail and the right to free speech.

  • Respect for the individual and rights to self determination
    Each young person should be regarded as unique, and not be judged on the basis of their membership to a particular group. For example, young people should not be categorised on the basis of their particular drug use. Young people have the right to make choices and decisions about their own lives. Top of page

  • Respect for different cultures and religions in society
    Workers should value cultures and religions different to their own, they should not ridicule them or promote one religion over others.

  • A commitment to empowerment and participatory democracy
    Young people should have a say in decision-making. This includes decisions which affect them personally, and decisions about how society should be.

  • A commitment to collaborative working relationships and collective action
    Workers should value the skills and ideas of other workers and of the young people with whom they work. Workers should understand that working together for a common cause is more effective than working alone.

  • An acknowledgement that all relationships and activities with young people are based on their consent
    This principle is a more specific example of the principle regarding self-determination. Workers need to acknowledge the unequal power relationship that exists between workers and clients and seek to ensure that young people have their rights and safety protected at all times.

Overhead transparency

Ethical principles in youth and community work
  • Respect for basic human rights
  • Respect for the individual and rights to self determination
  • Respect for different cultures and religions in society
  • A commitment to empowerment and participatory democracy
  • A commitment to collaborative working relationships and collective action.
  • An acknowledgement that all relationships and activities with young people are based on their consent.

Reflection on the ethical principles of your organisation

Task - group activity

Discuss your answers with other learners.

Question - Does your organisation demonstrate respect for the above principles? Can you think of an example of each principle in action? (e.g. how does your organisation demonstrate that it is committed to empowering young people?)

Question - Are all your clients given equal respect, regardless of their age or social background?

Question - How does your organisation demonstrate its respect for people of different cultural backgrounds?

Question - The above document has clearly been aimed at working with young people in the general community, not specifically in an AOD context. In your workplace, can young people always have a say in what happens to them? Why? Why not?

Question - In your opinion, if young people are intoxicated or under the influence of other drugs, are they still entitled to participate in the decision-making process? If yes, how might this occur and when would it be appropriate/inappropriate?