What is Advantaged Thinking?

Our work is led by the principles of Advantaged Thinking [234kB PDF]. Advantaged Thinking emphasises what people can do rather than what they can’t do. This builds young people’s capacity to make positive decisions in their lives, to think and act on their own behalf.

The Advantaged Thinking approach was developed by Colin Falconer of the UK Foyer Federation and adapted by the Brotherhood of St Laurence for use in Australia. 

At the heart of Advantaged Thinking lies an understanding of people’s rights to develop a good life, one which they have reason to value, and a focus on developing strengths and assets rather than problems and needs. This approach recognises that people’s capability to choose different pathways in life must be matched with actual opportunities and the resources to realise them. Advantaged Thinking is the fulfilment of this philosophy in practice. 

To begin engaging with Advantaged Thinking, visit Where to Start on the UK Advantaged Thinking website.

The 7 Tests of Advantaged Thinking

We use the ‘7 Tests of Advantaged Thinking’ to frame how we interact effectively and respectfully with others.

The 7 Tests are:

  1. How you TALK about people
  2. How you UNDERSTAND people
  3. How you WORK with people
  4. How you INVEST in people
  5. How you BELIEVE people
  6. How you INVOLVE people
  7. How you CHALLENGE people
Commit to working on each of the 7 Tests of Advantaged Thinking in your work

5 Practice Areas

The Advantaged Thinking approach recognises that with the right set of investments, service
participants’ talents can be scouted out and coached to build their potential. However, coaching
alone is not sufficient, we also need to attend to the kinds of structures and supports around
the service participant. Whether the service relates to education, employment, wellbeing or
housing, these five areas need to be addressed in practice.

Advantaged Thinking operationalises this at a service level through 5 Key Practice Areas:
Places, People, Opportunities, The Deal and The Campaign.


An Advantaged Thinking approach focuses on creating places and environments that inspire and challenge young people. Place is also key to shaping the way in which we access opportunities and the kinds of experiences we have.


An Advantaged Thinking service surrounds young people with access to a diverse range of staff, community members, networks and volunteers, who have a variety of skills and life experiences and who hold strong beliefs in the abilities and capacity of young people and recognise them as talented and valuable assets for the community


We all need access to resources and opportunities to promote and develop our skills and sense of self if we are to be successful in achieving our goals. An Advantaged Thinking service provides access to opportunities, resources and networks that can promote and develop young people’ talents and enable them to realise their aspirations.

The Deal

The Deal is an ethos expressed throughout service delivery. This ethos works to give the participant more control by enabling them to understand: what they are committing to; what is on offer to them; how they can be involved in tailoring the approach; and how they can grow through the process to reach a more sustainable and positive livelihood.

The Campaign

Changing community perceptions involves challenging those around us to see young people as citizens, rather than labels, and working to reform the systems and structures that impede their potential. The Campaign focuses on changing community perceptions, demonstrating that young people have talent that can be nurtured and working with mainstream institutions to create structural change

Use positive language rather than the language of disadvantage

Fundamentally, the Advantaged Thinking approach challenges us to re-think how we speak about young people – to use positive language rather than the language of disadvantage. The Advantaged Thinking Language Guide [1677kb PDF] is a great tool for being more mindful personally and professionally.

Want to learn more?

The Brotherhood of St Laurence can provide expert support to understand the purpose and
qualities of the 5 Key Practice Areas, the 7 Tests of Advantaged Thinking and the key principles
that underpin each area to help inform service or program design, and to embed this practice
approach in service delivery. This support can be offered through the delivery of bespoke
consultancy or training packages, or through guided implementation of the Advantaged
Thinking Self-Assessment Framework.

The BSL is committed to continuing The Campaign of Advantaged Thinking through our
communities of practice, training, self-assessment and resource development opportunities.
Those interested in learning more about the Advantaged Thinking practice approach are
encouraged to contact staff at the BSL by emailing Youth.Practice@bsl.org.au