Annual Report to Children and Young People 2020-2021

Local councils play a critical role in realising children and young people’s rights. Councils plan and provide for many services, facilities and spaces that shape community wellbeing and participation, including libraries, parks, and play and recreation facilities. Council decisions have a significant impact on children and young people’s lives.

Despite this, children and young people have limited opportunities to chape the communities they live in, and their contributions are rarely regarded as equal to those of adults. Many children and young people want adults and institutions to show them greater respect, take their views seriously and act upon their perspectives and ideas.

The Commissioner recommends that the Review:

  1. Establish mechanisms for children and young people of all ages to participate in their local communities as active citizens, with particular regard to:
    1. The rights and active citizenship of children from birth to 12 years old.
    2. Meaningful models of youth engagement and participation that are diverse and representative, have influence and deliver real change.
  2. Lower the voting age to 16 years old for local government elections.
  3. Engage with young people directly to better respond to their views and experiences, including in relation to:
    1. Enrolment and voting.
    2. The experiences of young candidates, including the barriers they face and the support they need.
  4. Improve the provision of comprehensive civics and citizenship education and embed democratic principles and practices into schools.