Narrative inquiry – Co-designing a complex facilitation event

Listening to Youth Voices


An initiative of Anglican Southern Queensland Social Responsibilities Committee, Anglican Southern Queensland. Anglicare NSW South, NSW West, ACT


The Youth Voices project was designed as a way for young people to influence youth policy, program development and service delivery in government, schools and community organisations — to share their experiences of help and support, and to communicate what they see as a flourishing life and the supports they need to achieve that.

The project was a collaborative journey, with young people

  • actively engaged in co-designing the questions
  • participating in the Youth Voices online research using SenseMaker® across 4 states and 15 sites
  • engaging in the project workshop that brought together young people, teachers, youth workers, government policy officers and others to explore the data and how it might inform practical initiatives and outcomes for young people.

Co-Designing the Complex Facilitation process

The project culminated in a ‘co-analysis’ workshop jointly hosted by Anglicare SQ, the SRC and the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).  Representatives of these organisations co-designed the workshop jointly with Complexability practitioners.

There are two major elements:

  • What data will be shared and how (given that there is always more data available than is digestible). We collectively explored the visual patterns in the data, agreeing which had impact for the group to consider and designed ‘provocative questions’ to aid the conversations.
  • What appropriate processes will take participants from
    • Discovery (what data do we have that describes the current context) to
    • Sense-Making and Meaning Making (what does it mean in our context) to
    • Insights to Action (what options and opportunities do we believe would make a difference)

Front of mind always were the principles of:

Cognitive Equity:                  Processes for engagement do not privilege dominant ways or approaches, multiple options and opportunities are provided.

Epistemic Justice:                All voices are heard, have equal value, and people have access to their own data to take action.

As our partners in the project were more familiar with those who would be attending, our role in the design processes was to make the data and the principles visible, and to work collaboratively to design the ‘end-to-end’ process that is coherent with the content and anticipated outcomes.

Our role at the workshop is to monitor the process, make modification if required,

A description of the process, the visuals that were used and the results are contained in the report.

So what?

Youth Voices was a catalyst project, not just about research and a report, and the impact continues to unfold. There is a report, (available on the website) but more importantly:

  • Conversations and dialogue on the day occurred between people who would not usually have the opportunity to explore the issues and concerns,
  • As an ongoing stimulus for an inclusive conversation about what’s good for young people in schools, community organisations, and the child protection and justice systems, different organisations have adopted ideas and approaches identified
  • An ARC research grant building on the results will examine the impact of the Youth Justice system on Young Women.



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