Research & Innovation

Brisbane Youth Service has a strong commitment to evidence-informed practice and collaborative research that drives innovation.

Research at BYS has four key guiding principles

  1. Our research centres the voices and experiences of young people and their children, strategically prioritising forms of learning that have most capacity to benefit young people in navigating life challenges to thrive in the community.
  2. Our research is proactively collaborative and consultative in ensuring that we engage with academics, sector partners, community and young people at all stages.
  3. Our research upholds principles of reciprocity and pragmatism in ensuring that young people’s wellbeing is consistently the highest priority; and that research methods are adapted to ensure that young people benefit from their participation
  4. Our research recognises that young people’s experiences are highly complex, dynamic, intersectional and context-specific; and as such we strive to ensure that young people are ethically, respectfully and appropriately represented in all research outputs.


Enabling us to:

emerging support needs and issues impacting on the wellbeing of young people.

and understand the social impact of our programs.

Use Evidence
to continually improve the effectiveness of our work with young people.

using learning to drive new program responses to the needs of young people.


Research-driven innovation ensures we continuously develop strategies, tools and programs to enhance the level of supports available to vulnerable young people. Examples of this include:



Comprehensive cross-organisational data strategies embedded across all our work with young people. This commitment to measuring young people’s issues and the social impact of our work has allowed us to track trends over time; and to work with our university partners to analyse trends and identify emergent learning relevant to young people’s complex experiences.






Couch surfing research has addressed a critical knowledge gap, with analysis of client data over multiple years allowing us, in partnership with Dr Katie Hail-Jares at Griffith University, to identify concerning links between young people’s experiences of couch surfing and reports of poor mental health and disconnection from support.

This research has developed through quantitative analysis; qualitative interviewing of young couch surfers funded by Brisbane City Council and the Department of Child Safety; and the trial of a dedicated couch surfing service and practice tools funded by the Queensland Mental Health Commission.  BYS continues to deliver professional learning opportunities about the impact of couch surfing on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.






Intersectional experiences of homelessness and violence is a strategic priority for research at BYS, in recognition of the multiple barriers and complexities faced by young people who experience intimate partner and family violence in the context of homelessness. Our partnership with BDVS has enabled an embedded DFV support role in the BYS service delivery teams.

Our current partnership with Dr Danielle Davidson at QUT is gathering professional knowledge of the complexity of working with IPV and family violence in a homelessness context.



Youth-led practice being central to our research commitment, BYS has implemented a range of youth and community-engagement strategies to ensure that young people’s voices and experience guide our research practice. Many of our research projects are guided by Community Advisory Groups made up of young people and people with lived experience as well as community members and sector stakeholders.

Our internal youth participation strategy uses  innovative approaches to meaningful consultation and co-design of programs with young people.

Our current partnership with UQ Institute of Social Sciences sees us piloting new creative approaches to youth program co-design and evaluation.



Transitioning to independence through specialised support has been identified as a key need through evidence gathered about the barriers which impact on young people’s capacity to successfully stabilise and sustain housing. This has driven the design and implementation of a new approach to enabling young people to transition out of homelessness system support and into independence through stronger connection with employment, education and community.

The Positive Transitions Program evaluated trial has been funded by the Brisbane City Council Pathways out of Homelessness Grants and will operate from 2020-22.


Strengthening sustainable family support from a youth work-grounded approach has been identified as advantageous to young people’s longer-term stability and wellbeing, based on tracking of positive housing outcomes over 5 years and the successful internal trial of our youth-specific approach to family engagement work.

BYS has been able to access flagship funding through the Hand Heart Pocket fund to design and implement an innovative approach to building the strength of young people’s relationships with their chosen family.  The Safe and Connected Futures Program will run from 2021-23.