Promoting the rights, voices and contributions of children and young people
Promoting the rights, voices and contributions of children and young people
In accordance with the Strategic Directions for 2023-24, the Commissioner continued to visit schools, organisations and other places where children and young people gather, to hear their voices.
In the past year the Commissioner visited metropolitan, regional and remote areas of WA to hear from children and young people, as well as their families and those who work to support their wellbeing.
The Commissioner met with children and young people in schools, advisory groups, and support services throughout the metropolitan area as well as in Kalgoorlie, Albany, Esperance, Northam, Broome, Balgo, Merredin and the South-West region. She also regularly visited schools, non-government organisations and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations across the state.
Throughout 2022, the Commissioner had two advisory committees that informed the Commissioner’s ongoing work on girls’ wellbeing. Two student groups from Margaret River Senior High School and Penrhos College worked with the Commissioner throughout the year and advocated for free period products in schools as well as participating in talks with school leaders, local councils and local members of Parliament to advocate for young people to be included in discussions around gender
inequality, early consent education and the need for more inclusive school environments.
At the end of 2022 the work of these young people was celebrated with an afternoon tea co-hosted by His Excellency the Honourable Chris Dawson APM, Governor of Western Australia and the Commissioner.
Here I Am: Stories from young everyday leaders in Western Australia
December 2022 marked 15 years since WA first appointed a commissioner to provide an independent voice for the state’s children and young people. To mark this milestone, the Commissioner released Here I Am, a publication of 15 stories of young people making a difference in their communities. The publication was distributed to all WA school libraries.
An accompanying Teacher Resource was developed to encourage teachers to use Here I Am stories within the classroom. Approximately 30 schools will be incorporating the young people’s stories within classroom learning.
Youth engagement co-design project
As part of the commitment to review and build on the opportunities for children and young people to be heard in the work of the office, including consultations on specific policy issues and providing feedback on our work, the Commissioner partnered with the Youth Affairs Council of WA to co-design a youth engagement strategy. A key component of the project was to convene a youth steering group to carry out investigations to co-design the Commissioner’s youth engagement approaches for 2024 and beyond.
Following an expression of interest process in May-June 2023, the steering group will commence the co-design process in the second half of 2023. This project will provide the Commissioner with the views of children and young people about how best to engage them into the future, and gain advice from a broad cross-section of children and young people.
‘Stand Up, Be Heard’ youth forum
Around 100 students from schools across the metropolitan area joined the Commissioner at WA Museum Boola Bardip in late June to take part in a workshop to promote young people’s rights to have their voices heard and develop their advocacy skills.
As part of the workshop, young people explored the barriers to having their voices heard and ways in which to add their views to community discussion. A report on the outcomes from event will provide some guidance to the co-design project.
Celebrating best practise in consulting children and young people
The Commissioner sponsors several awards that celebrate organisations and individuals making a difference in the lives of WA children and young people.
Mentally Healthy Education Award
The Commissioner sponsors the Mentally Healthy Education Award as part of the Western Australian Mental Health Awards. These Awards are hosted by the Western Australian Association for Mental Health with the support of the Mental Health Commission. The award recognises education institutions such as WA primary and secondary schools that encourage good mental health for their students, staff and volunteers. Westfield Park Primary School was the 2022 winner of the Award.
The WA Youth Awards
Since 2010, the Commissioner has consistently supported the WA Youth Awards managed by the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia. In 2022, the Commissioner sponsored the Participate Award, which recognises a young person aged 12 to 17 years who has shown outstanding dedication to making a positive change in their community, and who has inspired their peers.
The recipient of the Commissioner’s 2022 Participate Award was Fatoumata Toure, an impressive young person whose outstanding volunteering, mentoring and leadership through football makes her an important role model in her community.
Youth Choices Film Competition
Managed by Constable Care Foundation, the Youth Choices Film Competition asks students aged 12 to 18 years to create short films that raise awareness of important public safety issues for WA young people. The Commissioner sponsored the Student Choice Award which was awarded to two Cornerstone Christian College
students in Busselton for their film which tackled the topic of online addiction and its impacts on young people.
Best Practice in Children’s Consultation Award
The Commissioner sponsored an award for Best Practice in Children’s Consultation which recognises excellence in listening to and using the views of children and young people to achieve significant outcomes.
The inaugural award is part of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) WA Achievement Awards which aim to recognise individual and organisational excellence in public service.
There were two joint winners of the Award in 2022, Telethon Kids’ Institute Sun Safe Project and Nature Play WA’s Talk N Walk Program.
Australian Child and Youth Wellbeing Atlas
The Commissioner sponsored Awards for a logo design competition for the Australian Child and Youth Wellbeing Atlas (ACYWA). The level of creativity and artistic expression displayed by young minds across Australia was truly inspiring. In addition, all participants had the chance to engage in a live Question and Answer session with the Creative Director of the Neuropower Group.
The ACYWA will map data on children across Australia, enabling the visualisation, analysis and monitoring health and wellbeing metrics for children. The visibility will provide more specificity and utility of the data available for public policy investment and commissioning decisions enabling maximum impact on the lives of children and families. The Commissioner is a partner in this project.
Talking About Vaping survey
Coinciding with announcements of stronger regulation around e-cigarettes, the Commissioner invited WA young people aged 12 to 18 years to have a say on use and access to e-cigarettes or ‘vapes’.
This online survey asked young people what they think makes these products appealing to young people, whether it is easy to access these products, and what advice or support they would like from adults on vaping.
Over a five-week period, the survey attracted 3,300 responses to be used in data analysis and reporting, making this the largest qualitative study conducted with WA young people on this topic. Their responses will provide key insights for government, including schools, on how to best address the needs of children and young people in relation to the use of e-cigarettes. The responses will be collated and the Commissioner will release a summary report later in 2023.