The role of positive youth development practices in building resilience and enhancing wellbeing for at-risk youth.


Services that utilise positive youth development practices (PYD) are thought to improve the quality of the service experience leading to better outcomes for at-risk youth. This article reports on a study of 605 adolescents (aged 12-17 years) who were concurrent clients of two or more service systems (child welfare, juvenile justice, additional education, mental health). It was hypothesised that services adopting PYD approaches would be related to increases in youth resilience and better wellbeing outcomes. It was also hypothesised that risks, resilience, service experiences and wellbeing outcomes would differ by age, gender and ethnicity. Youth completed a self-report questionnaire administered individually. Path analysis was used to determine the relationship between risk, service use, resilience and a wellbeing outcome measure. MANOVA was then used to determine patterns of risk, service use, resilience and wellbeing among participants based on their demographic characteristics. Services using PYD approaches were significantly related to higher levels of youth resilience. Similarly, increased resilience was related to increased indicators of wellbeing, suggesting the mediating role of resilience between risk factors and wellbeing outcomes. When professionals adopt PYD practices and work with the positive resources around youth (their own resilience processes) interventions can make a significant contribution to wellbeing outcomes for at-risk youth.