Over past few months, I have travelled the length and breadth of South Australia, with the best part of my role being the engaging and enlightening conversations with so many children and young people whom I’ve met.
I started my ‘Listening tour’ in June knowing that I wanted to:
- visit the regional centres and communities and involve them throughout my journey;
- connect with a diversity of children and young people in a variety of settings including children with a disability, children in contact with criminal justice system, Aboriginal kids, refugees and asylum seekers, kids in care, homeless kids and kids in employment,
- develop new relationships with old friends and create new partnerships.
It was always my intent that the first consultations and listening engagements were not ends in themselves but the start of enduring relationships.
I asked children and young people three questions during these consultations:
- What’s important to them?
- What would you change to make SA better for kids?
- What do you want me to prioritise in my work?
At the end of September, I completed round one of the ‘Listening tour’ conversations. At last count, I led 86 individual sessions with approximately 1,300 children and young people from 2 to 20 years of age. So, what have I discovered that I didn’t know when I started?
The surprises were:
- the number of kids who found it challenging in answering the questions, and how much they appreciated being asked,
- the size, scale and importance of gaming for social interaction, recreation, skill development
- the cost of living pressures affecting young people particularly price of electricity, food and transport.
I am in the process of finalising a report, but as a teaser, I can see emerging themes developing around the views, stories and ideas children and young peoples have shared during the ‘Listening tour’ such as:
- what makes a home, school and community environments safe?
- how do we become more inclusive of race and gender diversity?
- how do we build on and generate more awareness surrounding mental health in schools and work?
- how do we get more peer involvement in education?
Raising awareness about issues that affect children and young people means a future where our kids can believe that anything is possible.
I welcome your feedback on the forthcoming report and I hope you will join me in creating a better future for all young people living in South Australia.