Youthworx is a project of Youth Development Australia, a public benevolent institution, created by a group of leading thinkers and practitioners, as a platform for change and a way of exploring, developing and trialling innovative youth initiatives.

After some initial promising trials based around radio production in 2002 and 2003, the project struggled to attract support. Fortunately the Salvation Army provided seed funding that allowed Youthworx to establish a home in Brunswick in 2008. We still operate out of that old converted factory.

Under the guidance of founding Manager Jon Staley, and on the back of initial cross sectoral partnerships (SYN, SALVATION ARMY, NMIT Tafe, SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY), Youthworx began to to gather momentum and developed programs that could work effectively for the most marginalized young people in the community.

You can learn more about the development and evolution of Youthworx from an academic perspective at the following links:




The Youthworx model has a number of key principles that are the foundation of our success and enable us to work  cohesively with some of the most vulnerable young people within our community. These principles are based around providing an environment conducive to bringing out the best in people by drawing on their creativity and giving them the tools to be articulate in their experience of the world. This is then backed up by providing a pathway into employment within a production business where the creative can become the commercial, where the creative skills can put food on the table.

  •  Some key elements of the Youthworx model are:
  •  Capacity for sustained engagement/pathways (12months -2years)
  •  Small class size (15-18)
  •  Multi layered staffing structure (Teacher, Youth Worker & industry professional)
  •  Strengths based approach to learning
  •  Studio style collaborative teaching/learning space
  •  Inclusive aspirational culture
  •  High quality industry standard resources/equipment
  •  Teaching (& learning) methodology – competency based assessment, practical hands on learning in a collaborative context with   public ‘media’ outcomes
  •  Individualised pathway support
  •  Creative to commercial – opportunity to work in a professional production business


Youthworx is made up of a multi-disciplinary team of staff passionate about inclusion and sharing knowledge. Youth Workers, Teachers, industry professionals and management staff work alongside young Producers coming through at a rate of knots who are not only involved in the production of content but also play a key role in organizational decision making and development.

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Jon Staley – Executive Manager

Jon Staley is a Producer, Writer, Director and Social Entrepreneur and has been involved in establishing Youthworx from scratch – taking the seed idea of using creative media to engage highly marginalised young people and building a sustainable social enterprise model.


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Damira Rogoznica – Business Support Manager

Prior to Youthworx, Damira worked at Doutta Galla Community Health Service for 13 years and Headway Victoria for 3 years. She has been with Youthworx since October 2010 in a part time capacity. She is also currently Finance Manager at JOY 94.9 FM.

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Marj Matthews – Leadership Support

After many years leading not for profit organisation Dignity Financial Services Marj retired to travel the world and lend her considerable skills and experience to supporting a number of organisations as a volunteer.

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Bessie Byrne – Productions Coordinator

Bessie Byrne is a Social Impact Documentary Filmmaker with experience in a diverse range of media roles. She is a long term environmental activist and advocate for social justice. 

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Hayden Layton – Filmmaker

Hayden is an award-winning filmmaker from Melbourne, producing content with Youthworx since 2011, Hayden’s most recent work includes the score for our film Brown Paper Bag, for which he also produced & directed The Making of Brown Paper Bag…

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Lesley Pinder – Our Voices Project Coordinator

Lesley is an experienced filmmaker, arts coordinator and workshop leader/creative practitioner. Lesley is coordinating and facilitating the 2018 Our Voices project for young refugees and young people from newly arrived communities

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Damien Baumgart – Producer/Photographer

Damien is a photographer, media producer, illustrator, designer, and teacher with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, a Diploma of Secondary Education, and a Certificate IV in Design.

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Zoe Beck – Youth Worker

Zoe has worked at Youthworx for just over 2 years and has a Diploma of Youthwork. Originally from England Zoe has called Australia home for 28 years. Before taking a break to look after her 3 children.

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David Mackenzie – Core Teacher

David is a video artist, freelance filmmaker and media trainer/mentor. He has a Masters degree in Media Arts from UNSW and has worked across the disciplines of video art, documentary and collaborative media for over ten years. 

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Rachael Thompson – Media Trainer

Rachael Thompson has a background in journalism and radio and has been a documentary filmmaker for over 10 years. 

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Matt Thumpston – Photographer/ IT Support

Matt is a Photographer, filmmaker and IT specialist who has been working at Youthworx since 2014 in a number of different roles including as the Primary IT administrator.

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Scott Walsh – Production Assistant

Scott is a young filmmaker, who has been with Youthworx for over 12 months. He started as a student in Youthworx Media learning and studying a certificate 2 and 3 creative industries (media). 

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Amelia Mazis – Assistant Producer

Amelia is a filmmaker, artist and photographer who has been working at Youthworx since 2014. They originally started as a trainee after completing their Cert III at Youthworx Media, before becoming a permanent employee six months later. 

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Liam johnston- Productions Assistant/Web Design

Liam recently graduated from Youthworx Media and while studying his Certificate III he was employed to help build the current Youthworx website where he has shown a natural design flair.

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Chris Mudie – Productions Assistant

Chris recently graduated from Youthworx Media and while studying his Certificate III he has shown talent and as a result he was employed, Chris loves the idea of taking an idea and putting it into a finished film, he is keen to build up his experience and skill set for use in the future. 

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Sami Obama – Productions Assistant

Sami is a graduate of Brave Studios and Youthworx and is setting about establishing himself as an Actor and Director while currently working part time at Youthworx.

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Callum Goodes- Assistant Producer

Callum is both a Filmmaker and a Youth Worker, who has a passion for incorporating these two areas of interest into a wide range of projects. He has volunteered and gradually became an integral member for a variety of social minded organisations and charities.