Participatory, arts-based research with young people about the meanings of permanency

Stream: Permanency practice in out-of-home care
Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Time: 1.25 pm – 2.25 pm


This presentation will report on a participatory research project that explored what permanency means to young people with a care experience and how it shapes their approach to planning for the future. In Australia and elsewhere, increased focus on achieving legal and physical permanency has not been matched with an emphasis on relational permanency and what that means to children and young people in out-of-home care. Research focus has typically been on measures of permanency and hearing the perspective of adult informants, while few studies have explored the views of children and young people in out-of-home care about felt security and permanency. The project was undertaken in collaboration with the CREATE Foundation and NSW Family and Community Services’ Youth Consult for Change Group. Two groups of eligible young people (16-24 years) met over several months (May-July 2019) to take photographs that represent what permanency means to them, develop captions to share stories and views, and identify group themes. Presenters will reflect on practice lessons to support future planning for young people with care experience and for involving young people in research about their lives. Academic presenters will discuss evidence about permanency and why a participatory and arts-based approach of Photovoice was used to learn about the perspectives of young people with a care experience. Care experienced presenters will explain how young people used photography to symbolise what permanency meant to them and then worked together to caption selected images and curate an exhibition for the general public.


Susan Collings (Presenter), University of Sydney
Susan Collings is Research Fellow at the University of Sydney’s Institute of Open Adoption Studies. Her professional background in casework management and practice informs her approach to applied research. She uses collaborative and participatory methods informed by practice-based wisdom and lived experience. Her current research aims to build consensus on the casework skills and practices need to support children and families affected by child protection and out-of-home-care, including support for birth family contact.

Amy Conley Wright (Presenter), University of Sydney
Amy Conley Wright is Associate Professor of Social Work and Director of the Institute of Open Adoption Studies, University of Sydney. She is also Honorary Senior Fellow at Early Start Research Institute, University of Wollongong. Her research focuses on permanency for children in out-of-home care, with current projects on Family Group Conferencing, family contact for children in permanent care and foster carer recruitment and training. Amy previously held academic positions in social work and child development in Australia and the USA. She has served as a board member and consultant on child and family services for government and non-government organisations.

Freija Brandie (Presenter), NSW Family & Community Services
Youth Consult for Change is a group of young people who meet regularly and give feedback on projects that are being developed within Family and Community Services (FACS). As part of the group, each individual holds the title of Youth Ambassador. FACS makes decisions and develops projects regularly that concern young people. To ensure that the end product will support youth in care, it is important that FACS have young people at the centre of the process.

Note: A Youth Ambassador who is part of the project will co-present, contact provided for UCChange Coordinator

Emily Backhouse (Presenter), CREATE Foundation
Emily is a young person who participated in this project