We would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and work throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and emerging and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.

YLab’s 2023-25 Strategy is all about strengthening and clarifying our purpose, so we can create even more impact through our work. 

YLab was founded by the Foundation for Young Australians in 2016. Over the last seven years we have experimented with many elements of our model and developed a novel employment model and impactful co-design methodology. 

To date we have worked with over 220 organisations across Australia to design better systems and services with young people. We have also employed over 150 young people as YLab Associates who have not only gained entry-level employment and pathways through YLab, but also developed skills in co-design, social impact, systems thinking and consulting.


We exist to bring young people and institutions together to co-design better systems and services that deliver on young people’s visions for the future.

To do this, we engage, train and employ young people across Australia from many different backgrounds, cultures, identities and lived experiences in co-design. We connect them to work alongside institutions to design and deliver systems and services that are truly fit for purpose.

We work not only to build the capabilities of young people but to also shift the mindsets of institutions to value young people and genuinely share power with them as collaborators.

In delivering on our purpose, we will see outdated systems decline and new systems and services emerge that better meet the needs of young people.

Our theory of change

Our new strategy sees YLab:

We’re driven to create impact not only through our co-design methodology but also through the new services and systems that emerge through our work. 


The Issue

Young people are unemployed at double the rate of the general population in Australia.  

Their situation is uniquely amplified by forces like automation and globalisation. 

The current employment services system is hard to navigate and often strips young people of dignity, security and agency.  

Young people are desperately seeking workplaces that value diversity, wellbeing and the opportunity to learn and develop. 

Our vision

We bring young people and organisations together to co-design an employment system where:

  • Services are easy to navigate, provide real value to young people and are human-centred
  • Workplaces value wellbeing and safety for all young people
  • Pathways into entry-level employment recognise young people’s unique skills and diverse lived experiences
  • Young people are supported in finding purposeful pathways in their community and in future-focused industries.


The Issue

Young people need a health system that is fit for purpose, values their agency and recognises their knowledge about their own lives.

Unfortunately, the services available are in critically short supply, difficult to access and sometimes irrelevant to young people. 

A lack of necessary skills among practitioners is hindering effective engagement with young people, especially those with diverse lived experiences.

Our vision

We bring young people and organisations together to co-design a health system where:

  • Diverse lived experiences are centred to inform service design and delivery.
  • Practitioners are equipped with the right mindsets, skills, tools and resources to work with young people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Families, young people and services are connected, aligned and engaged.


The Issue

Our current education system is underperforming and it does not adequately equip young people for their futures. 

Young people are disengaged and frustrated as they lack agency over their own education.

The current system does not cater to the needs of diverse learners and is structured towards a "one size fits all" approach. This can make it challenging for students with diverse learning needs to fully engage and succeed.

Our vision

We bring young people and organisations together to co-design an education system where:

  • Diverse young people have active and ongoing opportunities to co-design the education system. 
  • The autonomy of young learners and power to decide how and what they want to learn is valued by educators.
  • The education system values and recognises non-traditional skills and learners.

Our Associates

Since 2016, we have engaged 130 young people as YLab Associates.

We currently have an active community of 33 YLab Associates who have diverse lived and technical expertise. They bring this expertise to our work and undeniably add the greatest value to what we do. They intimately understand the problems we're trying to solve because they’re structural challenges they face in their own lives.


The percentage of Associates and broader team members aged 30 and under.


The number of young people currently employed as YLab Associates.


The percentage of Associates aged 15–18.


The percentage of Associates who are First Nations


The average age of our Associates.


The number of projects Associates have worked on since YLab’s inception.

Will you join us in creating better systems and services with young people?

Get in touch via our contact form.