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The Pathways to Resilience Study Robyn Munford Jackie Sanders. An Enduring Presence moving beyond short, single interventions with vulnerable young people. With grateful thanks to: The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

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An enduring presence moving beyond short single interventions with vulnerable young people

The Pathways to Resilience Study

Robyn Munford

Jackie Sanders

An Enduring Presencemoving beyond short, single interventions with vulnerable young people

With grateful thanks to:

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

who have funded the research and to Linda Liebenberg and Mike Ungar in Canada who conceptualised the original Pathways study and have supported the development of the research.

Two studies
Two Studies

Pathways to Resilience.

The role of services and resilience in outcomesfor youth at high risk

National sample

Mixed methods

Multi stage

Youth Transitions.

Factors associated with positive transitions to young adulthood for high risk youth

Who are the young people
Who are the young people?

1494 youth in total (610 vulnerable youth, 886 comparison group)

61% male, 39% female)


45% Maori, 18% Pacific, 34% Pakeha/other euro, 4% other

Age range

12-17 years. Mean age 15.7 years

Service involvement:

339 child welfare,

642 youth justice,

642 alternative education,

351 mental health

An enduring presence
An enduring presence

We’re just the lost generation that had shit parents and are angry at everybody in the world.

You just have to be there for the person, like the extra mile like how [my social worker] said ‘if you don’t txt me I’ll find you’ and she did find me, took me to [a café]… And she just talked to me and said ‘it’s got to stop’ [drug use] but she talked to me on my level when she was talking to me, she wasn’t talking to me as this person that had to do their job, I was real to her, it helped.

Episodic interventions for chronic problems
Episodic Interventions for chronic problems

It’s pretty much a waste of time for me doing that [telling people what is going on] coz when it comes to services and that, they just wanna know a little bit then they take you away put you away and then that’s it. File closed. Or we’ll send you back to your family, send you back to drugs and drunks. And then close the file that’s it.

What could we do differently
What could we do differently?

She never judged me, I was scared, I didn’t know why I got angry. She just kept seeing me and talking to me about it and I got to understand what was going on. She talked to me heaps, she listened to me heaps, [we worked out ]what I could do like remove myself from situations, stuff like that.

First I went to the GP and then to CAFS then the social worker got me to go to counselling and she took me there. I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. She was always there when I needed someone to talk to and she helped me understand what was going on for me.

I saw them every week and they sometimes would come to my meetings with me (with other workers), they would stand up for me and have a talk and yeah that helped me.

  • Ecological approaches

  • Engaged, responsive, respectful and reliable

  • Youth focused inter-professional practice

So in conclusion
So, in conclusion......

Why What You Do Makes A Difference

  • Consistent service quality was associated better resilience, improved outcomes and lower risk.

  • Highest risk youth were most likely to experience services negatively.

  • For two measures, consistent quality was associated with outcomes that were similar to those of Comparison Group youth.

  • How services are delivered makes a difference - respectful, tuned into youth circumstances, empowering, opportunities to exercise agency.

  • What each provider does makes a difference – one quality service was better than no quality services for some but not all outcomes, therefore..

  • Services cannot compensate for each other, what each practitioner does makes a difference.

  • The challenge for services is to work together using youth development principles – these are associated with better outcomes.


We would like to thank all the young people who have participated in this study and taken the time to share their experiences with us. They have been generous in their time and in the effort they have put into answering a complex questionnaire. Many of the youth who participated in this research also nominated an adult who knew a lot about them (PMK) who we could interview. We would like to thank all the PMK who generously gave their time to this study.  

The following individuals and organisations have provided intensive support to us at various points in the study. Professor Michael Ungar and Dr Linda Liebenberg at the Resilience Research Centre based at Dalhousie University in Halifax Canada provided the methodologies and research materials and supported us in applying their ground-breaking Canadian study in New Zealand. They have provided enormous amounts of ongoing support to the project. Kāpiti Youth Support (KYS) and particularly Raechel the Manager and Briar the social worker, Presbyterian Support Upper South Island, and in particular Sue Quinn, the Highbury Whānau Centre and particularly Michelle Swain and Anjali Butler, Pete Butler and his team at START, Youth Transitions in Palmerston North. Special thanks to Barbara, Vicki and the team at Otago Youth Wellness Trust who provided assistance and support to the Dunedin research team for the duration of the study. The Ministry of Social Development, and particularly Child Youth and Family Services, The Families Commission, as well as the Department of Corrections also provided ongoing support at various stages in the research which would like to acknowledge. We also acknowledge the contribution of the Victoria University Research Trust and its staff; The Donald Beasley Institute; Youthline Auckland and Otago University. Finally, we would like to thank and acknowledge the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment for funding this research  

In addition to this many organisations across the country supported the research at various stages in its development and we would like to thank them for everything they have done to contribute to the research: