ICS researchers Professor James Arvanitakis and Ingrid Matthews have been invited to produce a report about the extraordinary story of the closure and reopening of Glebe Youth Service as part of their ARC Discovery project 'Promoting Young People’s Citizenship in a Complex World'.
Just weeks before Christmas last year, the NSW Land and Housing Corporation knocked on the door of Glebe Youth Service and announced the immediate closure of the building due to fire safety regulations. What happened next is a rare and important victory for community in an increasingly regulated and productivity-oriented world.
The ‘Save Glebe Youth Service’ campaign was established out of multiple strands and sites, both physical and virtual. Several public rallies, local and national media coverage, political lobbying and support, social media activism and backroom diplomacy combined to see the service reopen and resume providing its essential services to young people in the area.
The Social History of Glebe Youth Service report will include interviews with staff, service users, community and key public players, as well as surveying traditional and social media data, to analyse ‘what went right’ and report on this highly successful community action. The report will be designed as a resource for others working in community engagement, with a long lead-in timeframe, going back to the establishment of the service.
The report will also examine the extent to which the story is specifically place-based: how Glebe Youth Service withstood increasingly demanding challenges to its survival is interesting and heartening, but does it have lessons in preserving and growing essential social capital beyond the community sector, or the urban, or even outside of Glebe? How can we know?
"We are really looking forward to reporting a good news story here", said Ingrid Matthews, who is taking the lead on behalf of the ARC team.
"So often we examine the shortcomings of community engagement. In this research, we will be identifying 'what works': what made this community campaign such an outstanding success. We also hope to identify indicators of transferability—that is, which successful grass roots campaign strategies are likely to be transferable across sectors and communities".