Today's globalised world holds significant prospects but it can be tough for young people. They face rising levels of unemployment and under employment, housing stress and mental health difficulties—challenges that are felt acutely in Western Sydney. At the same time, technology is playing an increasing role in young people's lives, offering opportunities but also potentially exacerbating existing problems.
Building on a track-record of collaboration since 2010, Young & Resilient, incorporating Intergener8 Living Lab, works with more than 100 stakeholders, including non-profits, big business, government and young people themselves, to find holistic, technology-based strategies to support intergenerational resilience. It enables young people and their communities to address some of the critical challenges of contemporary life, and enhance wellbeing locally, nationally and internationally.
We work with children and young people all over the planet. Our research into the role of technology informs policies, programs and interventions that can minimise the risks and maximise the benefits of the digital age.
Our research is unique in Australia and around the world. In any given week you might find us working with young refugees in Parramatta to design programs that support their settlement experience. We could be learning about the politics of young people by analysing thousands of essays written by young people on issues that matter to them. We could be working with street children in the Philippines, co-developing strategies for the prevention of violence, or discussing children’s rights in a school in Tanzania. At other times, we could be advising the government of Saudi Arabia on the use of technology to support children’s wellbeing, or Google on how to make their service better for families and children.
Our work falls broadly under four interrelated research themes, underpinned by the Intergener8 Living Lab:
A platform for ongoing and intergenerational co-research and design
At the heart of Young & Resilient is the Intergener8 Living Lab, which underpins our research programs. Through this innovation hub, we engage our partners, young people and other researchers to co-design our programs and collaborate in novel, experimental and creative projects. This results in policies, products, services and strategies we research, design and test together in real-life environments.
Building positive learning and work opportunities for young people in the digital age
The world of learning and work is changing. Young people face the prospect of multiple career trajectories, unstable employment and the impact of automation. We’re finding out how digital technology can support young people in their learning, work and navigating life’s transitions. We want to discover the skills and literacies young people, educators, parents and employers need to enable opportunity in a changing world, and strengthen the nation’s capacity for innovation as a whole. We’re also considering the changes educational institutions and workplaces must undergo to meet young people’s needs.
Elevating young voices in decisions that affect them
To effectively respond to contemporary policy challenges, we need authorities and institutions to engage more broadly and deeply with young people. We are developing technology-based strategies to boost young people’s participation in civic and political processes, and the capacity of governments and other organisations to respond to their needs and views. We believe in more young voices at the table, and are investigating how to leverage digital media to creatively engage young people, no matter their circumstances.
Examining the power of technology in physical and mental health
We’re studying the roles of digital technology for the health of young people. The rapidly-evolving digital health landscape has huge potential to support our wellbeing. But it also raises a host of ethical issues, including the potential to compound existing health inequalities. We’re developing strategies to mitigate some of these ethical concerns, and proposing ethical frameworks for health research and technologies, especially for people under the age of 18.
Studying emerging trends from the classroom to the chatroom
We study the physical and digital spaces young people spend their time. From schools to skate-parks, shops and social media, we’re looking at how technology can increase young people’s sense of identity and belonging. We’re interested in all the places young people frequent in their everyday lives, and how the intersection between those online and offline worlds can be targeted to enhance resilience and wellbeing. We’re also looking at emerging trends in mobile media, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and automation, and how these transform experiences of place—impacting the resilience of young people and their communities.
UNICEF State of the World’s Children workshops 2017, Brazil. ©UNICEF Brazil/2017/Coe
At Young & Resilient, we are always experimenting with new and innovative ways to engage young people in our research. As well as traditional research methods such as surveys, focus groups and interviews, we have developed unique, exciting approaches, processes and tools for research in a digital society.
Our youth-centred approach facilitates research and translation in fields where young people are regularly excluded, and our co-research methods work with and leverage diversity. We are also committed to producing processes that can be taken up by our partners and network, to help maximise the usefulness and uptake of research outputs.
We develop digital tools and novel techniques for the participatory qualitative analysis of digital data. We also engage with young people using creative methods that break down the traditional barrier between researcher and study participant. We ask young people to draw, paint, produce timelines, cut and glue, interview each other, create maps and take photographs.
The approach is rigorous, and ensures no one is left out. It gives us a holistic picture of how young people view the world and their place in it—not just want they think adults want to hear. The result is an extremely rich, qualitative picture of young people’s lived experience in a complex world.
Our methods also give young people a space to explore issues and empower them in ways they’ve not experienced before. For instance, in our work on children’s rights, many of the young people we meet have never considered that they have rights at all—let alone had an opportunity to explore or advocate for them.
Engagement Across the Generations
We work in genuine, diverse and new ways with young people to define, design and undertake research that matters to them. We reach out to young people in the spaces they’re already in, and utilise their strengths in our research. We are always looking for opportunities to involve young people, from advisors to co-facilitators and peer researchers.
Our Living Lab process bridges generational divides, feeding concerns raised by young people back to adult stakeholders and creating spaces for dialogue. We also build capacity in our partners to engage with young people. We believe this intergenerational approach is the best way to achieve lasting change.
Co-designing peer mentoring program for refugee youth workshops 2017, Sydney. © Alex Long, MYAN NSW
We want our research to result in action. As well as scholarly publications, we produce industry reports, detailed process guides, government documents, infographics, blog posts and more, to ensure our work is accessible and has real world impact.
Young & Resilient offers a platform for a broad range of stakeholders to explore, co-create and implement changes that positively impact young people's lives. From our engine room in Greater Western Sydney, we adapt and translate our work for application all over the world.
We work at a local scale, in young people’s everyday communities. But we also enable young people to shape policy, programming and practice at state, national, regional and global scales.
Our impact reverberates around the globe. Since 2010, our research has been conducted in over 60 countries, and our team has collaborated with:
- Centre for Resilient and Inclusive Societies, 'Stream 2: Youth, Diversity and Wellbeing in a Digital Age'
- Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, ‘Child Centred Indicators for Violence Prevention: A Living Lab’
- Invisible City
- Intergener8 Living Lab Foundation Project
- Marina de Valencia, ‘Marina de Valencia Living Lab: An Activation Project’
- NSW Department of Education, 'Acceptable Use of Mobile Digital Devices, Technology and the Internet in NSW Government Schools'
- Plan International/ChildFund Australia, ‘Online Safety: Pacific Research’
- 5Rights Foundation, ‘General Comment on Children and the Digital Environment: Children’s Consultations’
- UNICEF Gulf Area Office, ‘Children and Social Media in the Gulf Area: A Living Lab to identify and explore children’s uses, and the possible risks and opportunities’
- UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, ‘Investigating Violence Against Children Online’
- UNICEF New York, ‘UNICEF State of the World’s Children 2019 Consultation with Children’
- NHMRC, Wellbeing, Health and Youth NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Adolescent Health: Making Health Services Work for Adolescents in a Digital Age
- Whitlam Institute, ‘Young People and Democracy: What Matters?’
- ‘When People Protest: Understanding and Explaining participation in global climate protests’
- Youth Action, ‘State of the Youth Sector (NSW)’
UNICEF State of the World’s Children workshops 2017, Portugal. ©UNICEF Portugal/2017/Magano
Who we work with
Our pioneering techniques have been recognised by leading academic, corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations around the world.
Our researchers have co-authored a general comment for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and run a children’s consultation to underpin the comment. We have generated data for UNICEF’s flagship annual State of the Children report. And we serve on Google’s children and families advisory board.
Our partners include:
- 5Rights Foundation
- Plan International
- ChildFund Australia
- Liverpool City Council
- Global Partnership to End Violence Against
- Marina de Valencia
- University of Sydney
- Deakin University
- Whitlam Institute
- Whitlam Library
- Youth Action
- Project Rockit
- Riot Games
About Our Team
Our interdisciplinary team of more than 30 researchers comes from across Western Sydney University. We bring together experts from cultural studies, sociology, gender studies, digital humanities, health sciences, computing, software and platform development, psychology, education, design, business, law and innovation, all working together to deliver the best outcomes for young people.
- Ms Deborah Blackmore (Programs and Partnerships Manager)
- Ms Lilly Moody (Senior Research Officer)
- Mr Jasbeer Mamalipurath (Research Officer – Impact)
- Dr Sky Hugman
- Dr Girish Lala
- Ms Lou Lemm
- Ms Jane McCormack
- Ms Ingrid Matthews
- Ms Eve Mussi
- Ms Betty Nguyen
- Ms Georgina Theakstone
- Mr Josh Whitkin
- Ms Lisa Portolan
- Ms Skye Tasker
- Ms Martina Glienicka
- Ms Linda Marsden
- Ms Shakira Ali
- Ms Naomi Hastings
- Ms Karinbah Singh