Promoting inclusive education

Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN)

ICAN was an initiative to promote inclusive education. It arose from the Social Inclusion Making the Connections School Retention Action Plan. It sought to find ways to re-engage young people who had disengaged from learning or who were at risk of leaving school early.

I worked with ICAN for many years since its inception in 2006, targeting teachers, leaders and policy makers, to raise the profile of the initiative through various media, including newsletters, website, conference papers and academic book chapters. ICAN won the South Australian of the Year award for education in 2008.

Newsletter to promote social inclusion in education

writer, researcher, photographer and project manager


We began with newsletters, for which I was writer, researcher, photographer and project manager. Through the newsletters, we sought to demonstrate the strategies we were trialling that were promoting inclusive education from a socially inclusive perspective.

Over a number of years, I interviewed about 300 young people at risk, their parents, teachers and social workers, as well as policy makers, to include multiple voices in a collaborative conversation.

Many of these young people were struggling with multiple barriers to engagement, not only with learning but also with life. Some were homeless, others were dealing with mental illness, either their own or a significant carer. Some were themselves carers. There were young mums and young people in juvenile justice. It was a privilege to meet them and I am humbled that they shared their story with me.


ICAN websiteAs ICAN grew, I was asked to create a website. For this I was architect, writer, researcher and photographer. Again, I worked with the highly talented design group, She Creative.

The website meant acquiring other skill sets, including CSS and web authoring tools.



YA paperIn my passion for ICAN, and my recognition of its success in changing the life trajectory of young people at risk, I wanted to cultivate every avenue to promote its achievements as well as the concept of inclusive education. This included finding ways to submit and deliver conference papers. I was the researcher and, working with the state manager, frequently the primary author and co-presenter.

This example ‘ Seeking Brighter Futures’, was published in the Youth Affairs Network Queensland newTransitions 2008 – Re-engagement journal




Stehlik Patterson chapter and cover



As ICAN’s success became more widely known, we were invited to contribute chapters to academic publications. Again, I was frequently the primary author and researcher.