The Marshman Foundation

The Marshman Foundation is the research and development arm of Youth Opportunities, providing thought leadership and support to protect the integrity and fidelity of our programs and services.

Working in consultation with Youth Opportunities, Marshman Foundation brings skills and knowledge in education & training, psychology and information technology, and ensures our programs and services remain relevant and effective to young people and schools. The foundation also oversees new programs and services, and testing their viability in the marketplace.

We use a range of robust measures to ensure we are achieving the best program outcomes, these include:

The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale:

This scale measures general levels of distress, with indicators for anxiety and depression 7. The scale is used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. We use two versions: K10 and K5 which reflect the number of questions. K5 has been adjusted for the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and was used to evaluate Accelerate and Activate outcomes.


Using five constructs: Engagement, Perseverance, Optimism, Connectedness, and Happiness, EPOCH is a validated adaptation of the PERMA framework of positive psychology and is specifically designed for adolescents. The five constructs are characteristics that foster wellbeing and psychological health into adulthood 8.

Mental Health Continuum Short Form:

The Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (MHC-SF) measures three dimensions of mental health: emotional, social, and psychological well-being 9. It is the scale used for young adults undertaking the personal leadership program. Depending on their responses, participants can be categorised as flourishing or languishing.

Locus of Control:
Levenson’s Locus of Control (LoC)* assessment measures a psychological concept that refers to the degree to which people believe that they have control over the events and outcomes of their lives, as opposed to external forces, such as chance or other people 10. Having an internal LoC is strongly associated with taking responsibility for your life and is a direct measure of Personal Leadership.

Youth at Risk (YAR):
This is a desktop assessment that measures levels of criminogenic risk. It has been adapted from the standardised ONSET referral and assessment framework designed by the Centre for Criminological Research, University of Oxford. The risk and protective factors that we assess include family and living arrangements, education, physical, emotional and mental health, peers and activity, perception of self and others and thinking, attitudes and behaviour.

Using our suite of measures and the global evidence base, the Marshman Foundation continually test the assumptions around the short and long term impact of our programs and services. This is represented in our Theory of Change, which articulates how and why we create social impact.

Our programs and services are developed based on extensive research in the fields of:

  • Positive psychology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Behaviour therapy
  • Habit formation and neuroscience
  • Developmental psychology
  • Transformational learning theory
  • Personal development theory
  • Motivational theory
  • Philosophy

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