What is it?
Developed over an eighteen-month timeframe, yChange is the Commissioner’s response to the most recent test scores from the National Assessment Program – Civics and Citizenship (NAP–CC). The scores reveal that when it comes to understanding the importance of our democracy and appreciating our national values, the performance of Australian students has plateaued.
Conversely South Australian children and young people have told the Commissioner they would like to understand the systems they are in, know how to engage in the world around them, and acquire the skills they need to transition into adulthood. yChange is designed to close this civics education gap.
Through yChange students go on a five-part learning journey that equips them with the knowledge of systems and practical skills they need to access, analyse and communicate information. They learn to link civics and citizenship education with ways in which they can take action on issues in their local communities they would like to see addressed, and on which they work as a class to identify.
Flexible enough to be scaled to suit primary or secondary school students, yChange has been mapped to the Civics and Citizenship skills and knowledge strands of the Australian Curriculum and aligns with the aims of South Australia’s Youth Action Plan. A pilot program undertaken in 2020 involved students and teachers from Mark Oliphant College, Marryatville High School and Elizabeth Vale Primary School. Their input was significant in shaping the final content of yChange.
Schools can apply for a yChange Action Grant of up to $500 to implement student action plans. Once a class has completed their yChange project they are encouraged to enter the Governor’s Civic Awards for Schools and upload their project presentation into the yChange Project Showcase to be promoted to decision makers and influencers across the State.
Schools from the Department for Education, Catholic Education and Independent Schools systems have access to the FREE yChange Resource Pack via a simple registration process. Supportive partners include the Commonwealth Parliamentary Education Officer, Parliament of South Australia, History Trust of South Australia and the Centre of Democracy.
Commissioner Connolly is encouraging educators to complete yChange with their students and help close the civic engagement gap that currently exists within South Australia
yChange was formally launched in April 2021 and has been well received in South Australian schools with more than XX schools now registered to complete the interactive yChange course.
yChange is delivered via a dedicated website that enables students and educators to access all the resources they need including a Teacher’s Handbook and Student Worksheets.
You can check it out here: https://ychange.com.au/
The participatory nature of yChange fosters positive relationships built on children and young people being valued for their opinions and contributions. The aim of yChange is to ensure that children and young people feel respected and valued through their participation in the course, increasing their self-worth and their connection to peers while connecting with their local community through a project that they determine will be beneficial. A small grant is provided to facilitate implementation of their group’s yChange plan which students develop throughout the course.
yChange promotes intergenerational relationships where professionals and civic leaders see children and young people’s experiences and opinions as legitimate and essential to designing responses and support mechanisms, policies and services that are fit for purpose and will therefore be more likely to have a positive and lasting impact.
We know children and young people have an increased sense of social and emotional wellbeing when they participate in the design of systems that impact on them. Allowing children and young people to have input into decisions that affect their lives demonstrates that their opinions matter and their ideas can be enacted.
Children and young people say they feel a real sense of social inclusion when they are recognised and respected by adults and others as citizens who are ‘actors’ that come with rights. This recognition and respect from adults also provides children and young people with a sense of social responsibility to the wider community, while simultaneously elevating their sense of place within it.
Read the Media Release about the launch of yChange here
In 2020, the Commissioner undertook a yChange pilot program in which a number of local highschools participated to test drive the draft yChange resources for educators and students that had been developed.
yChange was the result of conversations the Commissioner had with young people in South Australia who told her they want to contribute to the vision, strategy, culture and operations of public institutions, laws and governance. They want to matter, be connected to a purpose, and have their individual and collective strengths and contributions recognised. Young people told the Commissioner how opportunities for meaningful participation promote positive relationships between themselves and adults, and can improve their overall wellbeing and sense of purpose.
yChange was devised in response to this need, while also strengthening young people’s knowledge of their rights, responsibilities, and entitlements as citizens living within Australia’s unique democractic system and structures.
Read the full media release here