Participation and inclusion for young people
When young people are actively involved in the community, everyone benefits. Find out what the NSW Government is doing to encourage youth participation and inclusion.
Opportunities to get involved
All young people are different. They have a diversity of views and experiences which uniquely qualify them to contribute to the decisions that affect their lives.
Initiatives designed for young people are more likely to be effective if young people are involved in their development and implementation.
The NSW Government encourages youth participation and inclusion by promoting opportunities available for young people. Some of these include:
- getting involved with children and young people's advisory groups
- completing the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award.
You can find out more about these opportunities below.
Why is it important to involve young people?
The term 'young people' refers to people aged 12 to 24. This is when young people transition from childhood to adulthood, and from dependence to independence.
Young people are innovative, creative, and energetic. Young people don't just want to participate - they want to be involved in a meaningful way, and to make a difference.
Working with young people to shape the services and programs offered to them ensures their needs are being met. Better outcomes are also more likely to be achieved.
Engaging young people in your organisation empowers them to get involved in a genuine and purposeful way. It ensures that their ideas and opinions are respected, considered and acted upon.
Watch this video to see why the NSW Government is committed to ensuring all young people are supported to overcome challenges and realise their potential.
Initiatives that support young people to participate
The NSW Government offers a range of initiatives that support young people to participate in a meaningful way:
- Her Sport Her Way Program - With a focus on diversity and inclusion, this program aims to increase participation of women and girls in sport.
- NSW Government Boards and Committees Register - This is where young people who would like to sit on a government board or committee can register their interest.
- NSW Regional Youth Taskforce - Young people from regional and rural NSW provide policy and operational advice to the Minister for Regional Youth.
- NSW Youth Advisory Council - This group of 12 young people, aged between 12 and 24, provide advice to the government on issues, policies and laws that affect children and young people in NSW.
- Rent Choice Youth - This program helps young people, aged 16 to 24 years, find and pay for somewhere to live for up to 3 years.
- Stronger Country Communities Fund - This fund supports local projects that make regional communities stronger and even better places to live.
- Youth Consult for Change - Youth consultants advise the Department of Communities and Justice on what works and doesn't work for children and young people in care.
- Youth Opportunities Program- Grants of between $10,000 and $50,000 dollars are available to not-for-profit organisations and local councils for projects, initiated and led by young people, which have a positive youth development focus.
- Youth Week- Held in early April each year, this is a week of activities organised by and for young people, including live events, competitions, arts and craft, and skills workshops.
Establishing a children and young people's advisory group
The Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) encourages community groups and organisations to involve children and young people in their decision-making processes.
ACYP has prepared a guide to establishing a children and young people’s advisory group. It highlights the value and benefits of embedding children and young people’s voices in community groups and organisations.
For more information on effective ways to engage young people in your organisation, view the ACYP participation guide. It includes young people’s top tips for meaningful participation. There are also checklists for chief executive officers, boards, non-government organisations, front-line workers, and contract managers.
All young people have the right to be heard. If you would like information on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, view the ACYP child rights education resource.
The NSW State of Volunteering Report
In 2021, The Centre for Volunteering and the Department of Communities and Justice presented the inaugural New South Wales State of Volunteering Report.
This report highlights the value of volunteering to individuals and communities in NSW.
Drawing on feedback from more than 1,100 volunteers and 1,000 volunteer-involving organisations, the report found that young people volunteer in many roles. These include:
- fundraising and events
- food preparation and service
- sport and physical activity
- media and communications
- administration and office management
- education and training
- companionship and social support.
Some of the key findings of the report include:
- young people made up a significant proportion of the volunteer population
- youth aged 18 to 24 spent 40.7 hours per month volunteering
- 48.6% of youth volunteers are motivated to give up their time to develop new skills and or gain work experience
- young people surveyed said that the reason they don’t or can’t volunteer more is due to the following barriers:
- 78.2% - no time due to balancing study, work and other responsibilities
- 25.3% - cost
- 23.3% - lack of transport.
If you would like more information about the report, see key findings from the 2021 NSW State of Volunteering Report.
You can also read the 2021 NSW State Of Volunteering Report to understand the power of youth volunteers in our communities.
To find volunteering opportunities, visit the Centre for Volunteering website
Duke of Edinburgh's International Award
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a voluntary, non-competitive and flexible programme of activities for all young people aged between 14 and 24 years old. The best thing about the award is that you get to choose your own activities and set your own goals.
There are four sections to complete:
- Voluntary service — get involved in your community and give service to others.
- Skills — build your skills in something practical or creative, such as drawing, painting, fishing, or music.
- Physical recreation — take part in something active such as football, basketball, dancing, surfing or swimming.
- Adventurous journey —discover a sense of adventure and do something challenging with your friends.
Find out what's involved in completing the Duke of Edinburgh Award and what you can get out of it.
Contact the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ)
The Department of Communities and Justice works with children, adults, families and organisations to deliver services to the community. Their goal is to create safe, just, and inclusive communities through their services.
If you have a question or would like to speak to someone, contact the Youth Team at DCJ.
For more information, visit the DCJ Geneneral Enquiries page. It contains information about accessible contact services, as well as contact information for:
Other sites you may be interested in include:
- Youth Justice - Youth Justice NSW helps young people aged between 10 and 18, that have come into contact, or are at risk of coming into contact, with the criminal justice system.
- Leaving care - Find out what goes into a leaving care plan and what support is available to help you transition smoothly.