Dr John Fenaughty

BA, MA (Hons), PhD (Auckland)


My background in community psychology pivots around youth wellbeing, particularly as it is impacted by victimisation, harassment and/or cis-heteronormativity, including within schooling and education settings. 

I have straddled academia and community work since my undergraduate days (Psychology and Education) and transitioned from full time community work to academic employment in 2015. My formal community work began in 1997 when I founded the University's first "Queers on Campus" support group, which in turn prompted my mixed methods Masters research on suicide risk and resiliency among gay and bisexual men in Aotearoa New Zealand. Having then worked in London in youth development, I returned to Auckland to act as Principal Investigator (PI) on a NZ Health Research Council, NZFRST, and Lotteries Health funded project ($250k) exploring how men who have sex with men understood and experienced, forced, pressured, and unwanted sex. I took this knowledge around sexual violence, infused with a feminist-informed Foucauldian perspective, into my role as the research manager and help-line co-ordinator at NetSafe, the national cybersafety agency. I was at NetSafe for seven years, and completed a mixed methods PhD exploring how young people managed online challenges effectively. My PhD contributed to significant policy and practice developments in schools, especially around cyberbullying. My focus on schooling then saw me take up a research management role for three years at CORE Education, a non-profit that focussed specifically on teacher learning and schooling improvement. In my role I worked directly with schools, teachers and students around inclusive education, bullying, and digital citizenship, and founded and co-directed the Inside Out - We All Belong Social Innovation Co-Design collaboration in 2016 ($100k + $160k), which won a prestigious NZ Design Institute Award for Social Good in Design in 2016 and a global award in 2018. This collaboration involved the production of a set of teaching and learning resources to trouble oppressive norms that foster exclusion for young people who are sex, gender, or sexuality diverse.

I have extensive experience in undertaking community research, including utilising social innovation methodologies, to produce change for young people, educators, youth workers, community organisations and policy makers both nationally and internationally. My research is orientated towards goals of equity and inclusion. I work across a range of methodologies and frameworks, variously drawing on participatory methods, as well as post-structural framings and quantitative (including non-parametric) approaches as need be.

Research | Current

I have a range of research interests that build on my prior work. I am leading the following projects:

Beyond surviving: Supporting LGBTQIA+ students to thrive and flourish through/within school(ing). In this research project, I am seeking to understand what schools can do to support LGBTQIA+ students to move beyond simply surviving, to actually thrive and flourish in school(ing). Part 1 has been completed which drew representative survey data to identify the factors that support student achievement for LGBTQ+ students. Part 2 (see below) is interested in understanding how key achievement and wellbeing factors are currently represented nationally.

Our Voices: The National Census of LGBTTQIA+ and Questioning Teenagers and Young Adults in Aotearoa New Zealand. A large-scale LGBTTQIA+ specific rangatahi census, for school aged young people and young adults up to and including 26 years of age, to explore issues of importance to these communities. Partnering with both of the national LGBTTQIA+ youth organisations, as well as international leaders in the field (GLSEN), the census will explore experiences of schools, education, employment, and social support, including discrimination and equity.

Youth'19 School Climate Survey. (Co-PI with Dr Roshini Peris-John). In partnership with the national Youth '19 study, this is a representative survey of school policy, climate, environment, and school-based health services, to identify the current health-promoting features of schools. 

Evaluating norm-critical pedagogies for disrupting cis-heteronormativity in schools. This project draws on a range of data with educators, youth workers, and students about the opportunities and challenges presented by a norm-critical pedagogy to support schools to be inclusive of sex, gender, and sexuality diversity. 

Sexual and gender minority Education and Social Work student experiences in higher education. In collaboration with Professor Louisa Allen and Lucy Cowie this project is utilising photo-elicitation methodologies combined with interviews to explore sexual and gender minority student experiences in higher education.

Other projects I am collaborating on include:

  • Associate Investigator Youth '19 with portfolios on educational settings and wellbeing, and sexual and gender minority young people.
  • Advisor, contribtor, collaborator: Counting Ourselves - Aotearoa NZ Trans and Non-Binary Health Study. Focus areas education, youth.
  • Named Investigator: Growing up in NZ Longitudinal Study. Focus areas gender-identity and expression in children aged 8; Schooling, gender and sexuality, and digital environments for children aged 11. 

You can view my Google Scholar profile here.

Teaching | Current


  • SOCCLEAD 706: Innovation, Design, Evaluation (Co-ordinator)
  • SOCCLEAD 701: Leading Social Innovation (Co-ordinator)
  • SOCWORK 113: Culture and Diversity (Co-ordinator)

Previous Course Direction:

  • SOCYOUTH 233: Working with Young People
  • YOUTHWRK 353: Enhancing Pasifika Youth Development
  • YOUTHWRK 354: Rangatahi: Taonga Tuku Iho (Māori Youth Development)
  • YOUTHWRK 152G: Understanding New Zealand Youth
  • HUMSERV 101: Psychology for Human Services
  • HUMSERV 307: Advanced Practice in Cultural Responsiveness
  • HUMSERV 302: Applied Professional Practice
  • SOCWORK 356: Community Development

Guest Lecturing:

  • POPHLTH 732, EDPROFST 708, SOCWORK 721A & 721B, EDSW 201, SOCYOUTH 333, EDUC 201, and MBCHB 311

Postgraduate supervision

Doctoral Supervision:

  • Liyun (Wendy) Choo: Localisation and socialisation: A case study of English education in Bhutan.
  • Cui Le: Teaching in the margins: Chinese teacher experiences in higher education.
  • Jemma Allen: The impact of illness on the professional practice of New Zealand counsellors: A qualitative study based on narrative interviews.
  • Ruiqing Liu. The impact of religious adherence on civic engagement amongst New Zealand immigrants.
  • Szu-Ying (Xavier) Chiang: Mental Health Needs and Therapeutic Recommendations of Chinese Sexual/Gender Minority Young People: The Views from Young People and Practitioners. (Completed)

Masters Supervision:

  • Sammie Dudley (MSc): Takataapui, suicide, and self-harm: Differences between Māori LGBT+ youth in experiencing suicidal ideation and self-harm.
  • Josie Tait (MEd): Raising the Profile of Fundamental Movement Skills in Primary Physical Education in New Zealand.
  • Janette Tuckey (MCouns): Young people's perceptions and experiences of sexting: Counsellors' roles in harm minimisation.
  • Chloe Moore (MCouns): A qualitative exploration of working or studying mothers' experiences, identities, and stress, in light of gender role changes relating to parenting.
  • Rebecca Ball (MEd): The Role of Boards of Trustees in Provision of Sexuality Education in NZ Schools
  • Moira Clunie (MSCL): The Role of Rainbow Community Leadership in Preventing Suicide
  • Ben Porteous (MA): Cyberbullying as Social Policing of the Dominant Public Pedagogy. (Completed) (Rae Munro Masters Award for an excellent masters-level thesis having an impact on teacher education or classroom practice).
  • Dumindri Amerasinghe (MPH): “Coming out” of the Asian closet: experiences of LGBTQI+ Asian New Zealanders. (Completed)
  • Kiri Wilder (MSW): Social Worker Perspectives of Open-Entry Group Work Practice. (Completed)

Honors Supervision:

  • Sonia Pope (BA Hons). Cultural Identity as a Protective Factor for Suicidality among Tongan Secondary School Students. (Completed)


  • Lead consultancy on a ministerial best practice guidelines for LGBTQIA+ students in NZ Schools
  • A peer-reviewed "Silver Gong" in the 2016 prestigious NZ BEST Design Awards. 
  • Faculty of Education and Social Work Excellence in Diversity Teaching Award. 
  • Te Punanga Haumaru Community Bullying Intervention Grant ($100k) 
  • Health Research Council Emerging Research Award ($100k)
  • Lotteries Health Board ($26k)
  • Foundation for Research Science and Technology Bright Futures: Top Achiever Doctoral Award ($100k)
  • Faculty Research and Development Fund Award ($70k)
  • University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship Award
  • University of Auckland Masters Scholarship Award
  • Health Research Council Summer Studentship Award
  • University of Auckland Annual Prize in Psychology Award


Programme leader for the Social and Community Leadership Programme at the University. I am involved in supporting students in relation to questions about the programme, advising, and overall management and design of the programme. 

Areas of expertise

John is interested in a range of topics that are about promoting social justice, equality of opportunity, and equity, including:

  • Inclusive schools
  • Wellbeing of queer, trans, takataapui, lesbian, bisexual, gay, and other sex, gender, and sexuality diverse young people
  • Bullying, cyberbullying and victimisation
  • Positive Youth Development
  • Digital citizenship (including cybersafety and cyberbullying)
  • Community development
  • Sexuality education
  • Consent and sexual violence
  • Masculinities


  • Mixed methods
  • Participatory and action research
  • Social innovation methodologies
  • Qualitiative research including:
    • Post-structural and feminist-informed Focauldian theories
    • Photo-elictation
  • Quantative Research including:
    • Non-parametric analyses

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Centre for Community Research and Evaluation Board Member
  • Cyberharm Prevention and Restorative Practice Working Group Member (hosted by the Victoria University School of Government).
  • Sexuality and health education expert advisory group member.
  • Adolescent Health Research Group (Youth 2000) Member 
  • Te Korowai Atawhai Committee Member
  • Faculty Equity Committee Member
  • School Research Committee Member
  • School Post Graduate Committee Member
  • University LGBTQIA+ Network Member
  • NZ Sexuality Education Experts Group Member

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 4, Room 407
New Zealand

Social links

Web links