Self-determined housing choices for young people leaving the care system in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Authors
Turner, Brook James
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Degree
Master of Applied Practice (Social Practice)
Grantor
Unitec Institute of Technology
Date
2022
Supervisors
Gremillion, Helen
Type
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Keyword
Auckland (N.Z.)
Aotearoa
New Zealand
young people leaving care
youth
Māori youth
post-care accommdation
housing policy
Oranga Tamariki
homeless people
interviews
Citation
Turner, B. J. (2022). Self-determined housing choices for young people leaving the care system in Aotearoa New Zealand. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Practice (Social Practice)). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand. https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5759
Abstract
This thesis documents the self-determined housing preferences of ten young people (aged 18-22) leaving the care system in New Zealand. Globally, care leavers are acknowledged as some of the most vulnerable youth, especially to patterns of housing instability and homelessness. Despite this, limited evidence is available in New Zealand regarding care leavers’ housing experiences, although comparable international data exists. Adopting a constructivist lens, the study utilises photovoice, photo-elicitation, and semistructured interviewing to capture young people’s representations and narratives of preferred accommodation. The data was analysed using thematic analysis, and offers the reader rich visual and verbal accounts of care leavers’ housing journeys. The researcher upheld strengths-based youth development principles throughout the project, ensuring a democratic and equitable exchange with participants and prioritising the voices of young people. The findings indicate the importance of stability and permanence for care leavers in post-care accommodation by documenting and analysing multiple stories of unstable and insecure living immediately after care. In their stories, participants raised concerns about their readiness to navigate independent living within short transition timeframes, and indicated a desire to receive tailored support alongside stable housing, ideally from a workforce with lived experience transitioning out of care. Most care leavers expressed a reluctance to return to their families of origin as their initial accommodation option, although several rangatahi Māori voiced a yearning resonant with a desire to be housed amongst Hapū and Iwi. In an unexpected finding, many participants sought connections to nature as part of their preferred home environment. Participants were also particularly interested in independent living arrangements, and communicated significant resistance to being housed in close proximity to other vulnerable youth, providing evidence that alternative housing options to the current (congregate) supported accommodation model should be considered. Taken together, these findings present a compelling and urgent case for policymakers to focus their attention on care leaver housing options and support for this cohort’s independent living. Further research is needed in order to understand the scale of care leaving housing needs in New Zealand, how many care leavers exit care only to fall into housing instability, and what specific cultural considerations need to be addressed in post-care housing for rangatahi Māori.
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