Annual Report to Children and Young People 2020-2021

Children and young people have limited opportunities to shape the decisions that impact their lives. and their contributions are rarely regarded as equal to those of adults. They are frustrated with institutions that do not include them or represent their views, and which fail to take action on public policy issues they believe should be prioritised or provide opportunities for them to engage in a meaningful way. Many children and young people want adults and institutions to show them greater respect, to teach them how to be active citizens, to take their views seriously, and act on their ideas.

We know that the quality, content and timing of school-based civics and citizenship education varies considerably across schools, if it is delivered at all. Civics education is not taken seriously in many schools and time constraints limit the opportunities for young people to develop the knowledge and skills they need to be active citizens.

Engagement with democracy encompasses a range of experiences that lead to rather than begin with the act of voting. To this end, this submission highlights the importance of:

  • ensuring children and young people have access to education and information to exercise their rights;
  • providing children and young people with meaningful opportunities to influence decisions that affect their lives and promoting the active citizenship of children and young people of all ages, including very young children; and
  • recognising children and young people’s engagement in non-traditional forms of civic participation.