Commissioner’s Student Voice Postcard Initiative
What is it?
As South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, I am concerned that the voices of primary school children between the ages of 8 and 12 years are not being heard. I want to hear what ideas and opinions this age group has and what matters to them most. I want to raise awareness of their concerns, and where possible advocate on their behalf for greater participation and input into decision making and design of services aimed at supporting and benefitting them. If we don’t know what matters to them most how can we design services that meet their needs?
My work as Commissioner for Children and Young People is directly informed by listening to the views and opinions of children and young people living in South Australia. I have heard that the voices of 8 – 12 year olds are often not heard and in guiding the work of my office I devised a project that would enable this group of South Australians to tell me what is most important to them.
I launched my inaugural Student Voice Postcards initiative in 2019 and to date have received more than 40,000 postcard responses from all over the state. The responses children sent me are so informative. It helps to guide me in my advocacy work and to ensure that the agenda I follow is actually what children want me to advocate for on their behalf.
Last year (2022) more than 16,007 postcards were received from South Australian children aged 8-12 years attending Catholic, Independent, Government, Special, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Behavioural Schools across the state. This represented participation by 336 schools.
The success of the initiative has now cemented it as a sentinel activity I will continue to undertake year on year. It is providing tens of thousands of older primary school aged children living in South Australia with an opportunity to participate, at scale, in a project designed to have their opinions heard, gathered, and reported upon over a longitudinal timeframe.
A report summarising the findings from each year is produced and distributed to school principals, key decision and policy makers, the Minister for Education and the CE for the Department for Education. There are currently four reports available for download via the links below:
- The Things That Matter 3 Views of 8-12 Year Olds on Life, School and Community
The aims of the Commissioner’s Student Voice Postcards initiative are:
- To significantly bolster student agency and civic participation for older primary school aged children 8 – 12 years.
- To encourage children in this age group to identify and share what aspects of their lives are most important to them.
- To provide children in this age group with greater awareness of the Commissioner and her work.
- To provide children in this age group with an opportunity to have their voices heard in the knowledge that the Commissioner will advocate on their behalf to policy and decision-makers on matters they have told her are impacting on their lives.
To get involved in the Student Voice Postcards initiative visit the dedicated website containing downloadable postcards pack and up to date information about the initiative including insights into response gathered in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.