Rules for Engaging Children and Young People

By Engage 2 Act Youth - Little Steps BIG Change 

On Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 January 2018, Australia's (possibly the worlds?) first ever Kidference happened in Sunbury, Victoria. Organised by The Field Trip, in partnership with Sunbury Community Health and Engage 2 Act Youth, "Be a Voice, Not and Echo" was run for kids, by kids - and even catered by kids!

On the afternoon of day one, we invited some 'Grown Ups' to join us. The Grown Ups were people who worked for Government or non-Government organisations who had an interest in engaging with children and young people. 

In a two hour session we worked together to have all sorts of interesting discussions. It was a great opportunity to show the grown ups that we have so much to say on some big topics - if only they give us space to do so! 

At the end of this two hour session, we worked with the grown ups to come up with some rules for grown ups who are looking to engage with children and young people on decision making or problem solving. We wrote them all down on sticky notes.

The next day, Becky Hirst (President & Co-Founder of Engage 2 Act and Keynote Listener at the Kidference) grouped everything we'd said in to some overall themes.

Here are our RULES for engaging with children and young people!

1) Provide the opportunity to lead. 

Give us the skills - how to write to Government, how to talk to our families and friends, to facilitate conversations. Let us teach you. 

2) Show Respect. 

Treat us with respect. We have great knowledge and ideas. We are very capable. 

3) Listen to us, don't talk at us.

Come to us with relevant topics but feel free to ask us anything. Listen to our ideas. 

4) Don't assume you know what we want. 

Don't assume you know what we want. Don't assume we know what all kids want! Get a good mix of kids involved - age, areas, interests. 

5) Show us you've heard us. 

Show us how our ideas have been listened to. 

6) Engage us, don't bore us. 

Making it interesting - visual, interactive, throw in a bit of fun! Make Government exciting! 

7) Use Social Media. 

Use the internet. Use hashtags. But give us the opportunity to be anonymous if we want to be. 

8) Meet with us in person

Meet us - at meetings, at school, in our community. Include people we trust and already know in those meetings. Invite us but don't force us. 

9) Give us time to have a fair say. 

Be timely. We want to have a say before things happen. 

10) Be Clear and Specific. 

Tell us what's happening. Use plain English. Give us the information we need to be able to contribute helpful ideas. 

11) Lower the voting age. 

Lower the voting age to 10. Or at least consider Kid Councils! And more kidferences! 

The Rules for Engaging Children and Young People - a work in progress

The Rules for Engaging Children and Young People - a work in progress