Building partnerships with young people

Speaking at the National Assembly Mia Handshin, Youth Advocate and delegate at the Constitutional Convention, urged Councils to see their young people as citizens who have something to contribute now. She said if youth are seen as tomorrow's citizens with only something to contribute in the future then their sense of belonging is undermined.

"Young people have a right to a share of the community's resources," Mia said.

She warned about boredom, describing this as, 'our most costly disease', where a common complaint by young people is the lack of access to public space.

"Many Councils are recognising this issue and working in partnership with their young people," Mia said.

She pointed to the City of Adelaide's 'Outer Space', where young peoples' views about public space have been sought, resulting in a number of positive programs.

"Young people need to feel a sense of participation, to feel part of their social and physical environs," she said. "This can be achieved by encouraging youth to be involved in the planning, implementation and running of facilities and programs.

"The overall health of a community depends on the equitable use of resources for all sectors. Stop blaming young people and encourage them to be part of the solution."

Involving youth in local decision making can be achieved through Youth Advisory Councils built into Council's Committee System.

"We need a national approach across Local Government that takes a uniform approach to involving youth in decision making," Mia said. "This will send a clear message across Australia that young people are full and equal citizens, and that they are intrinsically valuable members of the community.

"Make young people a priority. They comprise 25% of our population yet they are currently the most under represented, under valued sector in the community.

"Young people need a sense of belonging and a means to contribute in a way they feel most comfortable.

"Councils need to build bridges large enough for everyone to cross."