Dr Marion Coddou


Dr. Marion Coddou is a Senior Research Fellow at the Brotherhood of St Laurence Research and Policy Centre. She is currently researching the impact of a number of initiatives, applying an Advantaged Thinking capabilities approach to young people’s transitions from care, justice involvement and homelessness.


From managing problems to expanding capabilities: promoting wellbeing in out-of-home care with Advantaged Thinking (Oral Paper Presentation)

Frameworks guiding practice in out-of-home care promote young people’s wellbeing by valuing their involvement in care planning, engagement in the community and achievement of developmental milestones. However, without an established practice approach oriented towards future opportunity, their implementation is often experienced by carers and young people as bureaucratic monitoring and compliance. Dominant practice approaches instead focus carer attention on managing individual crisis, risk and trauma. As a result, carers struggle to engage young people in care and transition planning and many young people experience poor outcomes.

Capabilities theory defines wellbeing as the substantive freedom to pursue a life one has reason to value. The Advantaged Thinking practice approach, founded on capabilities theory, offers a means of engaging young people in planning and community opportunities, based on their aspirations. It expands young people’s capabilities at two levels by: 1) sourcing mainstream opportunities to pursue their goals, and 2) developing the intentions, skills and resources needed to make the most of them.

This presentation draws lessons for policy and practice from an evaluation of a pilot operationalising Advantaged Thinking in residential care. Funded by the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Health and Human Services, the Brotherhood of St Laurence has delivered the Certificate I in Developing Independence in partnership with Anglicare and Berry Street in Northern Melbourne since 2016. Based on a realist analysis of student case notes and coursework, participant observation and interviews with 24 staff and students, the presentation outlines the key program mechanisms and conditions producing positive impacts on student goal-setting, planning and wellbeing.

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