University Of Tasmania

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Vulnerability as a precondition for resistance and agency: young women in a regional community

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 01:53 authored by Kitty te RieleKitty te Riele, Rebecca ShelleyRebecca Shelley
Any terms that designate certain groups of young people as more in need of support or intervention are likely to be contested. Identification of some young people as vulnerable can lead to tensions between rights and blame and between support and stigma. This paper draws on scholarship that posits vulnerability as emerging as part of specific social and historical conditions, and as a precondition for resistance and agency. We use publicly available data and information to focus on a community in a regional area in Australia and on a specific initiative for young women in that community. In relation to conditions, we detail salient characteristics of the region: north-west Tasmania. We show how structures of social, economic, and cultural inequalities provide the context for the vulnerability of young women living here. In this community, as elsewhere in Australia and globally, national economic reforms have accentuated social and economic disadvantage. We then move on to examine a participatory arts initiative, Project O, that works with young women in this region. We outline how Project O is an example of a practical way to harness the potential of vulnerability as a starting point for both resistance and agency, through positive connections with place and identity; by enabling young women to act on their aspirations; and by developing capabilities and providing recognition.


Publication title

Journal of Applied Youth Studies








Peter Underwood Centre


Springer Singapore

Place of publication


Rights statement

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2021

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education; Youth services