New Research on Youth Issues Takes to TikTok

02 February 2023
Tackling how to communicate and provide accessible information about the health and justice issues impacting young people in society today' has become the focus of a new CQUniversity research project.

The 'No Dramas' project which is currently underway' is led by Dr Linda Lorenza' CQUniversity Lecturer and Head of Course for the Bachelor of Theatre in Mackay' with co-chief investigator' Dr Luke Price from The College of Law' Criminology and Justice in Melbourne.

The research aims to use applied theatre in regional Queensland to enable youth-led communication on health and justice priorities and involves a crew of young creatives including First Nations actors and a videographer who are creating short form TikTok videos on topics that young people can relate to.

Dr Lorenza explained that the purpose of the project was to understand how young people want to engage and to deliver content that was accessible and relatable.

"In the initial stage of the project' we ran workshops with young people from various community and youth groups' and we found they really wanted more information about things like the health impacts of vaping' dealing with cyberbullying and how to interact with the police and the legal system.

"We also discovered that young people also had an appetite to better understand health issues especially related to things like physical' social and emotional impacts of smoking and alcohol'" Dr Lorenza said.

"We found that young people communicate really well with other young people' as opposed to listening to an adult telling them information' and the best way they absorbed that information was through their mobile devices on a popular platform like TikTok."

Involving a cast of young actors and a videographer' the team have been creating short form videos that will be shared with community youth groups' which can then be shared with friends and family' to further affect change.

The cast worked with participants in sessions conducted with the Darumbal Youth Network' Carinity Education and Our Space - the youth drop-in centre at Stockland Rockhampton.

"It's really all about the work being put together by the young people as they make these discoveries together' and we hope to extend the work we're doing as there's so much more that can be done'" Dr Lorenza said.

"Using the Arts can be a way that we can access other areas in our life' particularly with young people."
The project is funded by the Queensland Government through a $200'000 youth research grant.

"You can't hear from young people about the issues that matter to them if they're not on the same platforms – it's that simple'" Youth Affairs Minister Meaghan Scanlon said.

"There's so much information and help out there for young people when it comes to health and justice' and this is about making it easier for them to access that important advice.

"I'm keen and interested to hear about the results' see how it could align with our work on engaging with young people and possibly even inform how government communicates to young people."

CQU has plans to extend the work in 2023' by going back to the community groups and further exploring the important issues that need to be brought out in these clips and taking the project to a broader audience.