This article contends that opposition to professionalization has been led by writers from the United Kingdom and Europe who tacitly assume the (continued) presence of institutions that were a feature of the British context in the 1970s and early 1980s, and that still exist in modified form today. Most of these institutions are absent in the contemporary Australian context, and absent in many other post-welfare societies. The author concludes that in Australia there are significant gaps in institutional support for youth work, and that professionalization of youth work is necessary to address problems this creates. The article further concludes that in the current environment in Australia, on balance, the risks associated with failure to professionalize are greater than the problems associated with professionalization. Abstract published by arrangement with Taylor and Francis.