Commonwealth Youth Programme Code of Ethical Practice for Youth Work

The Code has been developed to provide an agreed framework and set of values for professional youth work. It provides a frame of reference in which to develop ethical and safe practice. In this 'summary' document the Code has been summarised and simplified for ease of use and communication. Following the Introduction on human rights the document is divided into two parts - the first part is titled ‘Youth Work Principles’ and the second part ‘Youth Work Practice Responsibilities’. A Code Based on Human Rights This Code of Ethical Practice is based on a human rights framework. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has particular relevance to youth work practice. Its four core principles are ‘non-discrimination’, ‘the best interests of the child', ‘the right to life, survival and development’, and ‘respect for the views of the child’.


Article 3.1 of the Convention prescribes that ‘in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration’.


Other United Nations declarations of particular relevance to the content of this Code are the Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Who does it apply to?
This Code of Ethical Practice is relevant to all qualified youth workers and to others working with young people without a youth work qualification. The principles and practice responsibilities outlined will support and guide the work that youth workers do with all young people. For the purposes of this document the term ‘young people’ applies to those aged between 12 and 29 years (based on the Commonwealth Youth Programme definition). However, some organisations work with young people in a broader age bracket and this Code may still apply.

CAYWA offers free PDF posters informing youth workers about the Ethical Practice for Youth Work. NGOs, Alliances, and individual youth workers are encouraged to print these posters and have them on display. These posters are high resolution and can be printed at professional printers.

  • Click here to download the poster of Ethical Practice Responsibilities for Youth Work

  • Click here to download the poster of Ethical Principles of Youth Work


© Commonwealth Alliance of Youth Workers 2018