Dr Jen Couch - Nat Sch of Arts (Faculty of Education and Arts)

Fully accredited supervisor - Can supervise as principal supervisor


I am a senior lecturer who teaches in the youth work and international development degrees. I came to ACU 15 years ago after working extensively in the youth and community sectors in Australia and South Asia. I have worked extensively with refugee young people and have recently completed the first longitudinal ethnographic study to explore refugee young people and homelessness in Australia.
I have worked with, and on behalf of, young people and communities in the areas of refugee settlement, displacement, homelessness, rights and participation, and capacity building. I have published widely in the area of young people and marginalisation and I am particularly interested in working in hopeful and positive ways to change social inequalities and exclusion.

I have conducted ethnographic and qualitative research in Australia, USA, Mexico, Thailand, India and Tibet. I am experienced in a range of empirical research methods including in-depth interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, photography and ethnography and have used these in a range of fieldwork situations from global justice activism in India, USA, Australia and Mexico, working children's movements in India and Indigenous communities in the Northern Philippines. My current research is focused on the role of young people in international development discourse, youth work in conflict zones and decolonising youth work practice.

I am an accredited supervisor for Honours, MPhil and PhD students. I have supervised postgraduate students working on an array of projects that focus on marginalised communities often with the aim of readdressing social injustices.


Phone :(03) 9953 3560 (Melbourne)
Email :Jen.Couch@acu.edu.au
URIs : Staff Directory ProfilePersonal Website

Research Interests

Youth work in post conflict areas ; Decolonizing Youth Work Practice ; Young people in international development ;

Methods Expertise

Qualitative and mixed research methods, ; Ethnography ;

Research Projects

Selected Publications


Ili-based Community Organising: An Igorot Indigenous Peoples Concept for Grassroots Collaboration??? , in Journal of Social Inclusion 9(1)

Together we Walk: The importance of Relationship in working with refugee young people, in The Sage Handbook of Youth Work Practice


The trails to get there: Experiences of attaining higher education for Igorot Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, in Australian Journal of Adult Learning 57, (2) June 2017

On the borders of Pedagogy: Implementing a critical pedagogy for students on the Thai Burma Border, in Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 57(1) 01 Apr 2017

'Neither here nor there': Refugee young people and homelessness in Australia, in Children and Youth services Review, Vol 74.

We are what we teach: Teaching Youth Work on the Thai Burma Border. , in Journal of Applied Youth Studies, v.2, n.1

Do Immersion Tours have long-term transformative impacts on students? A study of Australian university students in a Tibetan host community in India, in Journal of Applied Youth Studies, v.2.n.2

Its just more, you know, natural: the perceptions of men who buy sex in an emerging street sex market , in SEXUALITIES


Deviance and moral panics , in Sociologic: Understanding Everyday Culture and Society, Oxford University Press


Uncovering Margnalised Knowledges: Undertaking research with hard to reach young people, in International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches


My Life Just went Zig Zag: Homelessness and refugee young people, in Adolescent Wellbeing: Trends, Issues and Prospects, Pullen, D.F and Caroll, A. (eds), Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies (2013) Tasmania.

Survival Stripped Bare: Young People's Participation in a Street Sex Market, , in New Community Quarterly


On Their Own: Perceptions of Services by Homeless Young Refugees, , in Developing Practice,

Homeless Twice: Refugee Young People and Homelessness in Australia, , in International Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, Vol. 21, issue 1, pp. 1-23

Young People, Old Issues: Methodological concerns in research with highly marginalised young people, in Youth Studies Australia (print version)


A New Way Home: Exploring refugee youth homelessness, , in Journal of Social Inclusion

My Life Just went Zig Zag: Homeless experienced by young people of refugee background, , in Youth Studies Australia


Our lives, our say: Street and working children talk about their rights in Delhi, in Journal of Social Inclusion

Who Decides work for working children? Exploring Agency and Decision making with young workers in Delhi, in New Community Quarterly

Invisible No More: Considering the participation of Refugee Young People in Community Development, in New Community Quarterly


Mind the Gap Considering the Participation of Refugee Young People, in Youth Studies Australia