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Commissioner encourages children and young people across WA to stand up and be heard

A new report has been released which presents the findings from the Stand Up, Be Heard Youth Forum earlier this year.

The one-day forum invited young people to explore the topic of youth advocacy including their perceived barriers to advocacy, how they could overcome these barriers, who could help them effect change through advocacy, and how they can put advocacy into action.

Commissioner for Children and Young People WA, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones said it was a privilege to advocate for children and young people and ensure their voices were heard.

Key findings from the ‘Stand Up, Be Heard’ report indicate many young people feel confident in speaking up about issues that are important to them but are unsure of how to do so effectively, with many believing they would not be listened to if they did voice their opinions.

The report showed:

  • More than half (57%) felt confident in speaking up, while the remainder felt less confident (30%), not confident at all (9%) or were unsure.
  • Just under half (43%) felt that they would know how to speak up, while 9% felt they wouldn’t know and almost half (48%) were unsure.
  • The majority (61%) felt that they wouldn’t be listened to if they spoke up, while the remainder felt they probably would be.
  • The top four barriers to speaking up included judgement by others; overthinking or anxiety; embarrassment and/or lack of confidence; and fear of not being taken seriously by others.

Participants workshopped approaches to tackle the perceived barriers, identifying ways to build young people’s confidence, skills and resilience.

“When children and young people are empowered to speak up, it not only provides them the ability to contribute to issues that are important to them, but also helps build their skills and confidence to support their participation in the decision-making process,” the Commissioner said.

“It is clear young people are seeking opportunities in this area and it is our job as adults to support them. We must ensure our children and young people are at the centre of all decision making on matters that affect them.”

The ‘Stand Up, Be Heard’ report can be found online.