Health inequities undermine Australia’s economic success, and the rights of citizens and communities to lead happy, flourishing lives. Inequities in health status, risks and outcomes arise through social and economic conditions (or, social determinants of health) that are unjust—and, crucially, avoidable and modifiable.
Acting on health inequities reflects a commitment to ensuring that all people have an equal and fair opportunity to attain the highest possible standard of health. For disadvantaged young people (typically aged 15-24), health inequities are made worse by multiple, and often complex, barriers to economic participation.
Youth is a period of life usually marked by significant transitions in education, work, health and living situations. While the majority of young Australians successfully navigate these transitions, socioeconomically disadvantaged young people face additional challenges in achieving their full potential.
Work and employment—including the conditions and nature of work itself—are key arenas in which the many influences on health and wellbeing play out. Work integration social enterprises provide one mechanism for addressing the root causes of health inequity among young people.
This guide summarises the ‘better-practice’ features, contexts and design of successful youth-focused work integration social enterprises:
- Diverse work settings and spaces for learning
- Flexible and responsive wraparound support
- A ‘blended’ culture of education and employment
- Respectful and inclusive workplaces
Although the focus of this guide is on social enterprises, many of these features are relevant to public health planning, and policy and practice related to designing effective social services and inclusive businesses.