Regional Youth Voices Forums

What is this project about?

The Regional Youth Voices Forums is a project that involves undertaking a collection of forum style consultations with young people living in regional SA throughout 2019. The project came out of two major consultation tours previously undertaken by the Commissioner with children and young people living in regional South Australia in 2017 and 2018. (See background information below for details.)

The Commissioner will meet with diverse groups of young people from across South Australia’s regional centres with the aim of exploring how they would like to contribute to their communities. Designed to assist the Commissioner in identifying future directions for her advocacy work specific to the needs of regional young people, the forums will focus on identifying particular issues young people would like to see addressed. This includes finding ways to ensure they are connected with their communities to enable them to harness their collective voice, drive change in the issues impacting on them directly, and through change, support their capacity to achieve their individual and shared aspirations.

Over the long term the Regional Youth Voices Project will work with young people to develop an advocacy platform. The platform will utilise asset building tools to support development of ways to respond effectively to issues regional young people face, including establishing processes by which their recommendations for solutions can be more effectively communicated to decision makers. These recommendations will include facilitating opportunities for regional young people to be represented on relevant decision-making groups operating across their communities.

Children and young people across South Australia have told the Commissioner of their strong desire to participate in decisions that impact on their lives. In her 2017 Listening Tour, the Commissioner visited children and young people in six regional centres throughout South Australia where she heard how important it is to children and young people that they feel proud of where they live. They do not necessarily want to leave their towns, but want more opportunities for children and young people to be available within them.

In 2018, on her follow up Hopes and Dreams consultation tour, the Commissioner held a series of conversations with children and young people in a further eight regional centres across South Australia. These consultations were an opportunity for the Commissioner to deepen her understanding of the issues SA’s regional children and young people face. On this tour the Commissioner sought permission to share the concerns and recommendations children and young people shared with key people in their own communities, particularly in relation to what they believe could help them achieve their hopes and dreams. Throughout these conversations, the Commissioner heard how important it is for young people living in regional South Australia to participate in their communities, and to be able to be a part of decision-making that impacts upon them directly.

Project Aims:

  • To develop young people’s skills to respond to issues which arise in their communities.
  • To promote young people’s participation in their communities and to showcase them as leaders, now and into the future.
  • To work with local partners to recruit and support participants to organise and run the forum events.
  • To empower young people to develop solutions to community issues that impact on them directly.
  • To develop the capacity for community members to engage with young people in conversation and on issues they have identified as having impact on their lives.
  • To connect young people with decision makers to assist them to advocate for changes they want to see made in their communities.
  • To understand what the of process of change events are, who they need to involve, and how they want to community partners and decision makers to be involved in addressing issues affecting them.