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Challenging the youth policy imperative: engaging young people through the arts

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This paper challenges the orientations and assumptions underpinning policies for disadvantaged young people (DYP) in Australia. We argue that policy interventions for young people generally exhibit a binary divide, some policies fostering leadership and creative endeavours targeted on 'high-functioning' young people, especially within educational and arts milieus, while other policies, focusing on DYP, take a remedial orientation. The basis for this binary divide is, we argue, flawed social constructions of young people, constructions that pathologise or privilege behaviours, attitudes and lifestyles. The consequences for DYP are that remedial policies, designed to get and keep young people 'on track', are often ignoring deeper developmental needs. Using recent research findings from arts programmes for young people, the paper argues for a broader policy orientation, including developmental needs, to strengthen remedial policies and programmes and open the potential for pathways to resilience.
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Keywords: arts; exclusion; policy; transition; youth culture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Communication, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia 2: Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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