Overlooked and under-served? Promoting service use and engagement among ‘hard-to-reach’ populations


Social service providers strive to meet the needs of those most marginalised from society and from service systems. Yet many people who might benefit from available help consistently miss out. Using qualitative data, this study developed a repertoire of actions that organisations and service personnel can employ to improve participation and outcomes for groups who may be eligible for and may benefit from services, but whom service providers find difficult to identify, reach and engage. Semi-structured interviews with service managers and coordinators of child, family and youth services in Australia attest to the diversity and context specificity of those who are deemed to be ‘hard-to-reach’. The research data highlight ways to improve reach and engagement in a managerialist context by refining organisational action in four strategic domains: overcoming access barriers, building client relationships, utilising networks and partnerships, and ensuring staff capacity and sustainability.

SOURCE: Cortis, N. (2011), Overlooked and under-served? Promoting service use and engagement among ‘hard-to-reach’ populations. International Journal of Social Welfare. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2011.00825.x

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