283 – Children’s voices matter

Presentation - ECV2022-283

Children’s voices matter

Kate Beveridge, City of Greater Dandenong, Australia (kate.beveridge@cgd.vic.gov.au)

Background: The City of Greater Dandenong in 2015, committed to being a child friendly city, and resourced a council funded position to support both internal council departments and local non-for-profit community organisations to engage children and young people in planning and policy development, capturing their voices in shaping council’s future direction. Strategic Objective 5 in the Children’s Plan 2021–26 has been implemented to value active participation and engagement of children and families in the community. Consultation and direct engagement included an Annual Children’s Forum, Children’s Advisory Group, a Junior Advisory Group, and a Junior Mayor Program.

Aim: To engage children authentically, to ensure they feel listened to, as active citizens, in their community.

Method: Each year, local primary schools are engaged to participate in the two Children’s Advisory Groups and an Annual Children’s Forum, including the nomination of a junior mayor for a one-year term to participate in community activities. Since the inception in 2015, children’s voices have informed various council plans and strategies and influenced policy development. In particular, over the last 12 months, children have been engaged in the development of a new Community Hub and action plan; new playground installations; a Community Ambassador Program; future planned activities for festival and events for children and their families to a participate in; a Climate Change Community Engagement and Mobilisation Plan, and the Arts, Culture and Heritage Strategy 2022–26. Children’s voices in planning activities are then collated into an annual report for council departments to use as a reference point for future planning and evaluation, including contributing to the community engagement framework.

Results: Children have told us they like being asked for their ideas and suggestions, as it is their future and their community. Council staff have told us that “engaging children is valuable; it ensures their voices are considered in their work and planning”.

Conclusions: Overall, children’s wellbeing, sense of belonging and citizenship is fostered, as council continues to value and celebrate the local voices of children, as active and engaged citizens.

Key words: child friendly city, children’s voices, local government

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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