It takes more than ‘just scratching the surface’: the perspectives of young people on living in a disadvantaged community

Jelena van der Wal*, Rebekah Grace, Kelly Baird

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This paper presents findings from research exploring young people's perspectives on the strengths, challenges and needs of their local community in a disadvantaged area of Sydney, Australia. These findings contribute to the growing body of literature that seeks to better understand the life experiences and support needs of vulnerable children and families. Young people's perspectives were gathered using a Photovoice methodology. Participants photographed aspects of their community that they considered to be a strength or challenge, and these photographs served as conversation prompts in subsequent individual interviews. Five key themes were identified from qualitative analysis of the data: (1) Local People and Places; (2) Financial Struggles and Opportunities; (3) Personal Resilience and Skills; (4) Health and Wellbeing and (5) The Impact of Stereotyping Media Constructions. Young people also made recommendations about what they perceived to be the most important forms of service and government investment in their community. This research gives emphasis to the importance of including the perspectives of young people in research and in providing an opportunity for them to identify the issues of most importance. It also discusses the community impact associated with the relentlessly deficit driven approach employed by researchers and the media when examining disadvantaged communities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)256-267
    Number of pages12
    JournalChildren Australia
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


    • child voice
    • photovoice
    • qualitative research
    • young people
    • disadvantaged communities


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