Young People, Engagement and Public Policy Report Published

The cover of the Creating Benefit for All report featuring a group of young people walking down an alley on the cover.A new report on young people, engagement and public policy calls for more effective ways of involving young people in policy making processes and provides a framework to guide increased youth participation in policy matters.

The Creating benefit for all report (opens in a new window)is a result of the Youth Engaged Policy project - a collaboration between ICS and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre in partnership with the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, supported by the Youth Affair Council of Victoria, Youth Action NSW and Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia. The project brought together 100 young people and policy makers from across Australia to investigate how youth engagement is understood, the barriers and enablers to this engagement, and the development of the YEP framework to improve cultures and practices of engagement in federal policy processes.

The report describes:

  • Policy makers identified that both the quantity and quality of youth engagement in policy making is currently inadequate. This view is underpinned by conflicting notions of what engagement means and how to conceptualise and respond to young people's participation.
  • Conflicting views on engagement are barriers to innovative approaches and better policy. Policy makers and young people highlighted the need to develop cultures of collaboration, mechanisms to embed engagement in formal policy processes, and youth-led participation that encourages self-advocacy by young people. Engagement across a diversity of groups and individuals should be encouraged.
  • There are persistent barriers to participation faced by particular groups and a lack of understanding and appreciation for the role of organisations working with diverse groups. Similarly, the 'differences' between young people and 'adults' tended to be discussed as a challenge and something to be overcome – often via adult intermediaries and reports 'about young people's issues'. Of all features of contemporary participation, digital media remains the least well understood and utilised by policy makers.
  • Tools to guide and monitor progress in engagement are needed. While there are examples of innovative approaches to engagement, there is a a concern for the lack of coordinated process, planning and evaluation of efforts to enhance it.

Based on young people's ideas on how to meet the challenges and opportunities for engagement, the following needs were identified:

  • Institutional commitment to participation of young people and their advocates in agenda-setting, policy consultation, advice, scrutiny and evaluation.
  • Co-investment in a youth-led and intergenerational network of organisations.
  • A coordinating entity to resource and broker engagement through providing training, mentoring and consulting with and by young people, and using youth-led knowledge to produce policies and respond to issues affecting young people.
  • Resourcing of local collaborative community spaces that mediate relations between Government, NGO and community agencies with a particular focus on creating avenues for feedback on the effects of state policies on specific groups, promoting opportunities for new ways of thinking about and enabling diversity and inclusion.
  • Resourcing of young people's capabilities to work with policy makers at all levels through bottom up advocacy while increasing the relevance and influence of young people's perspectives across all areas and levels of Government.

In line with the desire for a fresh approach, the research team developed a holistic, accessible and adaptable set of indicators to assess the drivers of youth engagement in Australian policy making, supported by a framework to achieve meaningful engagement with diverse young people in policy processes. Read the report for full details (opens in a new window).

Posted: 22 June 2016.

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