Involve Young People

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Involving young people: guiding principles

Yerp is framed around three key values: respect, commitment and exchange. These are our guiding principles for involving young people in a meaningful way, that will be mutually successful.
Recognise and celebrate diverse groups of young people.

Recognising and celebrating diverse groups of young Victorians means working to make sure no-one is excluded, or worse off, if they do (or don’t) get involved. Young people have complex, identities, which involve gender, culture, location, sexuality and ability. Involving diverse groups of young people brings a much wider representation of identities and interests, bringing a better mix of ideas and skills to the party. Younger and older people benefit from being exposed to, and building relationships with, people from different backgrounds.

Understand and promote positive views of young people.

Understand and promote positive views of young people means valuing the contribution young people make to Victoria now, as well as what they will contribute in the future. It means focusing on the skills, talents and knowledge young people have (including latent talents), not what they are lacking. And it means promoting a positive view of young people to other community members or colleagues – and challenging negative views or stereotypes about young people

Offer meaningful opportunities to young people.

Meaningful opportunities are those with a clear, realistic purpose, which have the potential for genuine impact. They give young people real responsibilities, allowing them to develop new skills and have new experiences. When young people are allowed to take these roles, their skills and confidence grow. And their communities understand and appreciate them more.

Remain sincere, transparent and reflective.

Being sincere means we’re honest about why we want to involve young people and what we hope to achieve. And being transparent shows young people – and others – that we’re open about our reasons and methods. Reflecting means examining what we’re doing when involving young people and learning from it. This is an ongoing process.

Create a supportive, welcoming environment.

A supportive, welcoming environmentallows young people the freedom and opportunity to get involved in flexible ways that work for them. It considers young people’s varied needs and supports them as required. Because recognising and planning for the barriers that might prevent someone from getting involved makes it more appealing for everyone to get (or stay) involved. It’s an inclusive environment – somewhere that’s fun, social and welcoming to younger and older people from all backgrounds.

Build a consistent culture.

Building a consistent culture means working to make involving young people is part of the foundations of communities or organisations, so that it becomes the normal thing for everybody to do. A consistent culture recognises and rewards young people’s achievements and supports and encourages young people into leadership roles. It means embedding the ideas of involving young people throughout strategy and policy frameworks.

Create equal partnerships between younger and older people.

Joining forces with young people as equal partners shows you truly value their skills, knowledge and ideas. It gives young people real ownership and power in planning and decision making.  

Enable open communication across generations

Bringing younger and older people together to talk supports open communication across generations. This builds mutual understanding and respect, broadening and enhancing community participation.

Offer opportunities for shared learning

Creating opportunities where younger and older people can meet and share skills or knowledge allows both groups to understand more about each other. And it encourages everyone involved to learn new skills, think differently and make new relationships. Understanding the process you're embarking on will teach you as much as the young people you're working with.

What you can do now

Adair, K. (2013), New energy, ideas and perspectives: How young people are creating change across the Commonwealth, Sydney: AYAC.

Seymour, K. 2012, Good Practice Principles for Youth Development Organisations, Second Edition, Brisbane: Griffith University, Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance.

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