Listen up and shout out : best practice guidelines for engaging young people in decision-making processes in Alice Springs
Blunt, Elspeth; Northern Territory. Office of Youth Affairs
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Youth -- Government policy -- Northern Territory -- Alice Springs
Office of Youth Affairs
Alice Springs (N.T.)
42 pages : colour illustrations ; 30 cm.
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8 Research Methodology This report is informed by formal methods of research including reviewing current national literature surrounding youth participation, interviews conducted withkey local stakeholders, surveying local young people and reviewing case studies of youth participation in other regional settings around Australia. Informal measures were also taken including focus group sessions and attending local networking meetings. Recommendations are made with Alice Springs in mind, informed by best practice models and research from across Australia. Literature Review To place the project within a national context I reviewed current literature surrounding youth participation and engagement. This helped shape the scope of my research and direct my line of questioning in consultations towards feedback on particular models and their associated potential and pitfalls. The National Youth Affairs Research Schemes (NYARS) Young People, Participation and Local Government publication divided methods of engaging young people in local government into processes which follow formal governance mechanisms and less formal structures. This concept is also explored in Harts Ladder of Participation as discussed in the Youth Coalition of the ACTs Big Red Book which is explained in Appendix A. Formal structures include: representation, advocacy, policy analysis, campaigning and lobbying, surveys, research, ongoing committees and evaluation. Less formal methods included focus groups, discussion groups on specific issues, online forums and involvement in projects. It provided case studies where both paths towards inclusion and participation had worked successfully within different communities, discussed ingredients for quality practice, including participatory learning approaches and cultural community development principles. This paper collated strong arguments for participation as beneficial not just for young people, but for the broader community, while at the same time warned of the risks of externally imposed formal structures with top down development and governance. It listed many barriers that may prevent young people from participating, other issues that may arise as well as principles that should guide councils and suggestions for good practice. Rewriting the Rules for Youth Participation, another NYARS publication, focused on inclusion and diversity in government and community decision making. This paper also echoed the need for definitions of participation needed to go beyond formal notions of participatory decision making at other informal approaches such as casual chats, online interaction and project specific initiatives like youth radio. It further categorised approaches as either focussed on youth involvement/participation, having targeted/universal participation and taking a youth development/life skills learning approach. These terms are explained in more detail in the Glossary. It stressed the need to look at young people from diverse backgrounds as individuals instead of a homogenous group that will all want and be able to participate in a similar manner; the way diversity is framed will influence which young people will be involved. Engaging young people in determining both processes and the content for participatory decision making was found to be key in increasing and maintaining engagement and commitment from
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