The Australian researcher, Dr Carol Schultz’s first encounter with marginalized young people was in the late 80’s through her work with homeless young people (known in the eighties as street kids). What the researcher observed at this time was that the values that “Great Nations” aspire to (such as trust, care, equality and freedom) and the policies and practices that make this happen (for all citizens) were foreign to these young people. The culture of the street was vastly different to mainstream Australian society. Young people had very little education and no prospects for employment. Societal contradictions were rife and the government and community (largely) preferred to dismiss the problem even to the extent whereby the young people were excluded or moved on from their communities.
Despite this adversity, those young people living on the street knew how to survive. They understood that living on the street was dangerous, but for many the homes that they left were equally as dangerous. They could readily identify the drug dealers, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the murderers and the like. They knew and understood the culture of the street. They had to……. to survive. When young people live on the streets they have two choices – to die or to fight. Those that fight, fight to live and in doing so endure some of the harshest life lessons. They trust nobody – but themselves. These young people endure a life-time of marginalization. Those that chose to die did so through suicide. Unlike Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion” (Shaw, B., 1916), rarely did a “knight in shining armor” rescue them from their plight, helping them to “assimilate” or be socialized into mainstream society.
In the eighties Phil Collins released a song titled,”Another Day in Paradise”. The song (See Appendix M) describes the plight of the homeless in the western world at that time. Ironically, at the time of the song’s release, the researcher was working with street kids in Surfers Paradise. At this time (late 1980s) the conditions in which these young people lived were far from a “Paradise”. Societal contradictions were rife. Phil Collins song encapsulates these contradictions. Nearly thirty years on, this song continues to resonate. The problem of youth marginalization in the late eighties has not been addressed in Australia in 2019 – with the rate of youth marginalization now rising at an astonishing rate.
Copyright 2019 Dr. Carol Schultz
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