Building Networks, Trust and Social Cohesion
1. Strengthening Belonging and Engagement
This research revealed that young people experienced the highest level of belonging and engagement when involved in social networks associated with their own communities. At the same time, they expressed a desire to reach out and engage across all communities but sometimes experienced barriers to this form of engagement. Belonging, trust and community engagement are the cornerstones of social cohesion, and government and service providers are called upon to deliver more programs and initiatives to encourage and support trust building and engagement. Equally, more research is needed to identify the most effective approaches for building and strengthening belonging and engagement.
2. Building Trust and Social Cohesion
There is a strong need for building trust and social cohesion among social networks. Overall, young people from all three groups tend to be trusting of other people in interpersonal relations. Among the three groups, trust levels of young Arabic-speakers are the lowest, with survey data showing that more than a third of this group think that they cannot trust anyone. People from all three groups trust their family the most, but not necessarily their other relatives. A comprehensive family approach adopted by service providers could deliver some positive outcomes in this regard.
3. Supporting Social Inclusion and Active Citizenship
Interviewees from all three groups reported a range of ‘exclusionary practices’ that prevented them from participating in social networks. These ‘exclusionary practices’ ranged from explicit, targeted racism to more implicit or covert discrimination or social exclusion. As illustrated in the literature social networks act as vehicles for active involvement and engagement in practices of citizenship. There is, therefore a need to develop innovative strategies and programs to prevent discriminatory practices and alienation of some groups. These strategies and programs should be aimed at proactively promoting social inclusion and nurturing participative citizenship across diverse groups.