Accessibility statement

Adelaide event 23 - 25 May 2018, and Sydney meetings 28 May 2018

The project team were involved in a series of extremely successful meetings in Adelaide and Sydney. Thanks are due to all colleagues who met with, hosted and engaged with the project team.

Project team meetings

The project team held several meetings to discuss issues arising from their work within and across the nations involved, and developed and consolidated further plans for publications, conference attendance, future meetings and other connected matters.

Public event: Changing patterns of youth activism? What is happening, why and what are the implications for education?

The project team hosted and participated in a free public event to consider and explore three connected questions through the form of a conversation with and between attendees:

  • What motivates/demotivates young people from engaging within their political and social communities?
  • Is youth political and social activism changing from traditional, formal, partisan forms of engagement to practices which are new, informal, and issue-based?
  • What are the implications of such questions for educators working with young people?

The event commenced with two short presentations from which discussion and debate arose, with attendees sharing their own views and experiences about the political and social activism of young people.

  • Presentation 1: Civic Activism, engagement and the development of new civic learning spaces (PDF , 609kb)
    Presented by: Professor Ian Davies, University of York, Professor Márta Fülöp, Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Eötvös Loránd University, Dr Dina Kiwan American University of Beirut, Professor Andrew Peterson, University of South Australia, Associate Professor Jasmin Boon Yee Sim, National Institute of Education, Singapore, and Associate Professor Mark Evans, OISE, University of Toronto.

School visits

The project team learned from school leaders, teachers and students during visits to Warriappendi School and Pulteney Grammar School, where the Principal of Warriapendi, Dave Basher, and the Assistant Head of Middle School Teaching and Learning of Pulteney Grammar School, Jarrod Johnson, presented fascinating, insightful and hopeful accounts of their work in support of young people’s engagement.

Meetings with researchers in the fields of youth and youth political and social engagement

A series of highly informative and valuable meetings took place with a range of academics in Adelaide and Sydney. Meetings with the project team were held with the following colleagues to discuss their respective research connected to the focus of the Leverhulme Project:


  • Genevieve Hall – PhD Candidate, Monash University (area of research: Motivations of human rights activists);
  • Dr. Ben Lohmeyer, Tabor College, Adelaide (area of research: “highly-governed youth” in three areas: juvenile justice system, child protection system and activist groups);
  • Dr. Melanie Baak, University of South Australia (area of research: representations and activism of South Sudanese youth in Australia);
  • Professor Alan Reid, University of South Australia (area of research: educational policy, curriculum change, social justice and education, citizenship education);
  • Staff at the Centre of Democracy (Director, Alison Russell; and Education Manager, Madelena Bendo) and Parliament of South Australia (Community Education Officer, Natalie Young) (areas of expertise public and professional education for politics and democracy)


  • Keith Heggart, University of Technology Sydney (area of research: justice citizens approach in schools);
  • Dr. Shanthi Robinson, University of Western Sydney (area of research: international students as active citizens);
  • Dr. Victoria Rawlings, University of Sydney (area of research: gendered violence in schools);
  • Dr. Anika Gauja, University of Sydney (area of research: political parties as organisations which foster participation);
  • Dr. Debra Hayes, University of Sydney (area of research: schooling and disadvantaged students);
  • Dr. Illaria Piiti, Örebro University (area of research: youth participation in Italy and Swedan);
  • Professor Ariadne Vromen, University of Sydney (area of research: youth participation and digital citizenship).

Substantive issues arising from the above meetings and discussions in Adelaide and Sydney

During the events, meetings and discussions in Adelaide and Sydney, a range of issues central to the projects focus and research questions were explored. While the following is not a comprehensive account of all matters discussed, it provides three selective, interconnected themes which arose in our conversations in Adelaide and Sydney and which will inform the further work of the Network. The three themes are:

Theme 1: The challenges of, and opportunities for, political and social engagement for disadvantaged and marginalised youth

Across our events, many colleagues raised core and compelling issues faced by disadvantaged and marginalised youth and discussed how these issues impact on youth political and social engagement. Through our various meetings and visits, a range of cross-cutting and intersectional factors learning to disadvantage and marginalisation were highlighted, including socio-economic status, indigeneity, gender, migration status (e.g. those who are non-citizens) and location (e.g. urban/rural). While the impact of these factors on youth political and social engagement were explored at a general level, our conversations enabled Network members to examine in more detail the impact of these factors in more nuanced ways, including their complexities. In addition, a common theme in our meeting was the ways in which colleagues’ work focuses on positive and hopeful examples of youth-led political and social engagement that actively challenges the causes and (mis)representations of disadvantaged and marginalised youth.

Theme 2: Migration and youth political and social engagement

A theme common in the work of the Network to date has been the relationship between migration and youth activism. Through our discussions and meetings in Adelaide and Sydney, project members were able to interrogate this construct in more detail. Central to our conversations were exploring the ways in which those who are non-citizens (such as newly arrived migrants, refugees and international students) encounter, experience and express their political and social engagement. Two examples are: first, the ways in which international students, who then may reside in Australia for a significant period of time but remain temporary residents enact their engagement in the context of precariousness in order to connect themselves within their communities; and, second, how South-Sudanese youth in Australia have enacted their own forms of activism in order to counter negative representations of African youth in politics and the media.

Theme 3: Youth activism and notions of justice

A third theme is the way in which youth activism and engagement connects to ideas of charity and justice, and in particular how activism and engagement are framed in formal educational settings. Central here are the ways in which educators position and construct political and social action, and the sorts of relationships between those involved which are implicitly and/or explicitly engendered. Crucial are sustainable relationships which bring to the fore notions of reciprocity, recognition and mutual concern. In turn, there is a concern around whether some young people are educated for action in ways which might underplay the political and/or implicitly cultivate short-term, patronising relationships. An area of concern for the network is to examine and understand how educators work with youth to ensure positive relationships are central to youth activism and action.

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