|What are the key characteristics of this
group that are relevant to consultation?
Young people have a right to be involved in decisions
that affect their lives, as enshrined in the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to
which Australia is a signatory.
It is important to remember that young people are
not a homogenous group. They reflect the same mix
of views, values and backgrounds that are prevalent
throughout the entire community.
Notwithstanding this fundamental principle, some
interesting facts about youth participation include:
- More than a quarter of 18 to 24 year-olds volunteer
in a range of activities, such as fundraising, coaching
and counseling and environmental work. (Australian
Bureau of Statistics 2000)
- People aged 18 to 24 are most likely to nominate
environmental problems as the most important social
issue. (Sustainable Life - National Youth Roundtable
- Thirty per cent of all Aboriginal people are
between the ages of 12 and 25 years.(National Youth
Affairs Research Scheme and Australian Bureau of
Statistics 1993 Western Australia's Young People)
|What are the implications of these characteristics
Young people should be targeted for any consultation
that impacts on the whole community.
For young people, participation means connection.
Involving young people in policy discussions at all
levels of government helps to develop individual capacities
and strengthens a sense of community and social responsibility.
|What methods or approaches have you found
to be successful in accessing this group?
Young people can be accessed through schools, community
organisations, committees, campaigns and projects.
Other sources can include local sporting organisations
or regional youth councils.
Ongoing engagement of young people is essential in
this context. The validation of young people's role
the community and right to participate creates an
environment in which involvement in more structured
consultation activity is more likely to occur. Support
of young people's interests is important in improving
ongoing relationships. These interests may be diverse
but might include local government support for recreational
facilities, music concerts or local art projects.
There is evidence to suggest that young people use
the internet widely, so e-consultation may be a good
method of engagement. Issues of access to technology
and appropriate skill levels apply here, particularly
for those who are less literate or from culturally
and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
|Have you needed to vary the 'standard'
methods to make them suitable for this group?
There is a perception that young people are not interested
in committees and that it's hard to get young people
to attend meetings. However, there is evidence to
suggest they are generally very interested in decision-making
that directly affects them.
Similarly, taking into account venue and timing issues
in relation to the lifestyles of young people is important
(eg: holding and timing consultations at venues where
young people are likely to be) of. This is particularly
important given young people's study and work commitments.
|Outline any particular issues which need
to be addressed when consulting this group?
Youth participation works when:
- Young people are involved in all stages of policy
- Trust and respect underpins the process
- Issues are raised and taken into account
- Decision-making processes are democratic
- Consultation process fits with young people's
- There is a bottom-up approach to consultation
- Resources are available to support young people
to be informed and trained so they can take some
- Young people are involved in all decisions, both
small and large (ie: budgetary and policy decisions)
|Are there any further matters which are
relevant to consulting with this group?
Barriers to youth participation:
- People's perception that meaningful youth participation
is not achievable
- Language and meeting process
- Lack of funding
- Perception by adults of young people (eg: media's
negative images of young people)
- Lack of opportunity
- Lack of publicity in relevant and accessible formats.
- Social issues (eg: wealth, geography, nationality)
- Lack of motivation, apathy
- Image (eg: some young people think it's not 'cool'
to be involved)
Affairs Council of Victoria is the peak body representing
young people in Victoria.