Space, place, relationships: Perspectives of youth with cognitive disabilities
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Sally Robinson – Space, place, relationships: The perspectives of young people with cognitive disability about connection and belonging in regional communities

Sally Robinson – Space, place, relationships: The perspectives of young people with cognitive disability about connection and belonging in regional communities

A sense of belonging and connection is fundamental to young people’s identity. For young people with cognitive disability who live in regional Australia, very little is known about what helps and what hinders belonging and connection in their communities.

Using an accessible, photo-rich research approach grounded in social geography, we worked collaboratively with thirty young people with cognitive disability in three communities to explore what helped them to feel like they belong and they are connected, and what makes it hard. Young people described their connections and relationships using pictorial mapping, and explored the facilitators and barriers to belonging and connection through photo research methods and interviews. As well as individual spaces, places and relationships, this specifically included the effects of living in a regional community. The views and experience of young people about participating in research of this nature were also gathered through the research process.

This webinar describes the research and discusses the key emerging themes, which centre on how conceptions of belonging and connection shape identity, the importance of relationship and recognition, and the impact of isolation, loneliness and harm in these young people’s lives. Implications arise from the results for young people’s participation, for their support through services, for communities more widely, and for disability and childhood studies theory.

The project was conducted by a partnership of university and community researchers, led by the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University and including the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre, Strathclyde University, NSW Council for Intellectual Disability and Children with Disability Australia

Sally is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, Lismore, where she does participatory and inclusive research with young people with disability. Her particular interests and expertise centre on the use of creative methods to engage young people with cognitive disability in research to express their perspectives on key issues.

Sally has contributed to a wide range of research and evaluation in the social policy arena over the past decade, focusing particularly on safety and harm, accommodation and social exclusion concerns of people with disability. She is actively engaged in community and government policy debates, particularly regarding abuse and abuse prevention, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and community inclusion for children and young people. Prior to life as a researcher, Sally has a long history of advocacy and support work with people with intellectual disability. She has worked with people with intellectual disability for over 25 years.