Staff Directory

Dr Jen Couch Name: Dr Jen Couch
Senior Lecturer
+613 9953 3560
Organisational Area
Faculty of Education and Arts
Social Sciences (VIC)
Biographical Information



BA (Asia Pacific Community Development, Victoria University), PhD (International Development and Sociology, Victoria University)

Personal Background

I am a senior lecturer in youth work and international development.
I came to ACU in 2005 with a professional background in international community development, youth work and working along marginalised communities particularly in refugee contexts and in South Asia. I am passionate about social resilience and how to strengthen and rebuild this following experiences of community upheaval, violence, and trauma.
My experience as a qualitative researcher and practitioner offers me a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical and practical challenges facing vulnerable and marginalised communities.
I have published widely in the area of young people, communities and marginalisation and I am particularly interested in working in hopeful and positive ways to change social inequalities and exclusion. I have recently completed the first longitudinal ethnographic study to explore refugee young people and homelessness in Australia.

I have conducted ethnographic and qualitative research in Australia, USA, Mexico, Thailand, India and Tibet. I am experienced in a range of empirical research methods including in-depth interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, photography and ethnography and have used these in a range of fieldwork situations from global justice activism in India, USA, Australia and Mexico, working children's movements in India and Indigenous communities in the Northern Philippines. My current research is focused on the lived experience of refugee young people during COVID 19. 

I am an accredited supervisor for Honours, MPhil and PhD students. I have supervised postgraduate students working on an array of projects that focus on marginalised communities often with the aim of readdressing social injustices.



 Couch, J., Liddy, N. & Mcdougall, J. (2021) &ldquoOur voices aren&rsquot in lockdown&rdquo &ndash refugee young people, challenges, and innovation during COVID 19",  Journal of Applied Youth Studies.




Ili-based Community Organising: An Igorot Indigenous Peoples Concept for Grassroots Collaboration??? , in Journal of Social Inclusion 9(1)

Together we Walk: The importance of Relationship in working with refugee young people, in The Sage Handbook of Youth Work Practice


The trails to get there: Experiences of attaining higher education for Igorot Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, in Australian Journal of Adult Learning 57, (2) June 2017

On the borders of Pedagogy: Implementing a critical pedagogy for students on the Thai Burma Border, in Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 57(1) 01 Apr 2017

'Neither here nor there': Refugee young people and homelessness in Australia, in Children and Youth services Review, Vol 74.

We are what we teach: Teaching Youth Work on the Thai Burma Border. , in Journal of Applied Youth Studies, v.2, n.1

Do Immersion Tours have long-term transformative impacts on students? A study of Australian university students in a Tibetan host community in India, in Journal of Applied Youth Studies, v.2.n.2

Its just more, you know, natural: the perceptions of men who buy sex in an emerging street sex market , in SEXUALITIES



Deviance and moral panics , in Sociologic: Understanding Everyday Culture and Society, Oxford University Press


Uncovering Margnalised Knowledges: Undertaking research with hard to reach young people, in International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches


My Life Just went Zig Zag: Homelessness and refugee young people, in Adolescent Wellbeing: Trends, Issues and Prospects, Pullen, D.F and Caroll, A. (eds), Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies (2013) Tasmania.

Survival Stripped Bare: Young People's Participation in a Street Sex Market, , in New Community Quarterly


On Their Own: Perceptions of Services by Homeless Young Refugees, , in Developing Practice,

Homeless Twice: Refugee Young People and Homelessness in Australia, , in International Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, Vol. 21, issue 1, pp. 1-23

Young People, Old Issues: Methodological concerns in research with highly marginalised young people, in Youth Studies Australia (print version)


A New Way Home: Exploring refugee youth homelessness, , in Journal of Social Inclusion

My Life Just went Zig Zag: Homeless experienced by young people of refugee background, , in Youth Studies Australia


Our lives, our say: Street and working children talk about their rights in Delhi, in Journal of Social Inclusion

Invisible No More: Considering the participation of Refugee Young People in Community Development, in New Community Quarterly

Who Decides work for working children? Exploring Agency and Decision making with young workers in Delhi, in New Community Quarterly


 I am a mixed methods researcher who uses participatory qualtitative methods and is skilled in ethnographic and longitudinal research methodolgy, 

I have recently completed the first longitunidal ethnographic study into refugee youth homelessness. 

Read here:

Listen here:

I also am interested in rights based practice with refugee young people
Listen here:



Competitive Research Grants / Awards (since 2002)

2010 - Australian Learning and Teaching Council Grant. (In partnership with Edith Cowan University RMIT and Victoria University)  Project: Australian Youth Work Education: Curriculum Renewal and a Model for Sustainability for Niche Professions. ($192,000).

 2010 &ndash Faculty Research Grant, Australian Catholic University. Project: What makes a welcome? Exploring a model of resettlement: The Karen community in Bendigo. ($6,900)

 2010 &ndash Faculty Pilot Linkage Grant, Australian Catholic University. Project: A New Way Home: An exploration of homelessness amongst young people of refugee background. In Partnership with the Centre for Multicultural Youth ($8600)

Post Graduate Supervision

Completed Projects



Refugee settlement in Australia

Social movements and resistance to development and globalisation

Researching marginalised communities.

Social change in Asia

Identity and Popular Culture



I currently work with a number of NGOs in order to inform my teaching and research. In my work with Three for all Foundation,  I work in partnership with students and graduates in order to build a partnership and raise funds for a project in a refugee camp in Malawi. Our project is building programs that address sexual gender based violence with young people.

I also work with the 'Illi' Foundation in the Benguet region, Northern Phillipines Again working with students and graduates we are exploring the possibilities of social enterprises for young mothers.

I am also on the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Adult learning:


I currently teach in the following areas:

Knowing young people (sociology of youth)

Community development

International Development and Advocacy

Refugees and Forced Migration

Preperation for international education experience.


I am the recipient of a Faculty excellence in teaching award and ACU teaching citation. 

Professional Memberships




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