Curtin University of Technology has developed a free online resource to help community agencies work more effectively with at-risk youth.
The My-Peer Toolkit website was launched yesterday and is the result of five years of research by Curtin’s WA Centre for Health Promotion Research (WACHPR).
Project Coordinator Jonathan Hallett said the website was developed in response to a lack of resources for community agencies working with at-risk youth.
“Currently there’s a lack of guidelines for peer-based programs and there is also increasing demand for agencies to demonstrate the effectiveness of programs without the right evaluation tools being available,” he said.
“The website addresses these issues and supports agencies in securing funding to implement quality, sustainable programs.”
Mr Hallett said it had been important to get young people involved in the website’s development.
“We wanted young people to help in the development of the My-Peer Toolkit to ensure that the resources would be relevant and effective,” he said.
“Five young people, who either accessed peer programs or were involved in the delivery of programs as a peer supporter or program coordinator, were recruited as peer research assistants.
“They were able to provide critical direction, feedback and suggestions on aspects of the Toolkit like language, presentation, length of evaluation processes, acceptability of strategies, implementation challenges, and the skills and resources needed.
“Their participation was invaluable to the successful development of the Toolkit.”
The My-Peer Toolkit provides good practice guidelines and resources for planning, implementing and evaluating peer-based youth programs.
Contents of the Toolkit website include:
- Rationales of why peer-based programs may work.
- Information on program policies, ethical practice, staff recruitment, and training and supervision of staff and volunteers.
- Examples of different program strategies.
- Evaluation tools that can be used to measure and monitor the impacts of the program.
- Case studies.
“We are very excited about the launch of the website and hope to secure additional funds to help us expand the project regionally,” Mr Hallett said.
The My-Peer project was funded by Healthway and Lotterywest and was a collaboration with youth services, the Youth Affairs Council of WA and research centres that have an interest in peer-based mental health programs and evaluation.