To oversee the direction of the project, we have recruited a Steering Committee to represent a broad cross-section of the Victorian youth sector. This group met for the first time on Thursday 7 February 2013. Our aims for this meeting were to:
- get to know one another,
- establish guiding principles for the project, and
- agree on a strategy for consultations to inform the content and design of resources.
Seated left to right are: Greg Kennedy, State Coordinator, Koorie Youth Council; Jane Barclay, Youth Development Coordinator, Hepburn Shire Council; Shofi Triyanto, young person; Jo Prosser, Partnership Broker, Frankston Mornington Peninsula Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN); Lucy Benbow, Senior Policy Officer, Policy and Strategy Unit, Victorian Government Office for Youth; Emily Mellon, Youth Services Program Leader, City of Yarra; Roger Holdsworth, Senior Research Associate, Youth Research Centre, Melbourne University; Jessie Mitchell, Rural Youth Services Support and Advocacy Officer, YACVic; Anthony Osbourne, young person; Ben Cavender, Youth Planning and Policy Officer, Bass Coast Shire Council; Marianna Codognotto, Arts and Culture Coordinator, Jesuit Social Services; Rachel Humphrys, young person. (Also at the meeting, but not in shot, were: Linda Randall, Manager, Participation and Sector Development, YACVic; and me, Leo Fieldgrass, Youth Engagement Officer, YACVic and the project coordinator. Sorry for the blurry photo, I will take a better one at the next meeting!).
The full meeting minutes are available for you to view (and comment upon), while a summary is below.
After introducing ourselves to one another we discussed our hopes and fears for the project, and recorded these so we could reflect upon them at future meetings. We then confirmed a timeline for the project (click the picture to enlarge; the stars indicate future Steering Committee meeting dates):
To set a base for our guiding principles, we split into small groups to consider the following question:
‘What will youth participation and engagement look like in Victoria in 2023?’
This query was designed to make us think about where the project was heading – the type of world we hoped to create through the success of the resources. From establishing such a vision, we would then be able to agree a concept of ‘engagement’ with which to frame the project. We discussed how we hoped young people would be ‘engaged’ in Victoria in ten years’ time, how young people might be participate in society, and how young people and adults might interact.
Our conversations centred on a number of key values that committee members wished to see embedded across communities and organisations, including respect, commitment, mutuality, freedom, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Understanding and acceptance of the value that young people bring to communities and organisations, and the benefits that engaging with young people have for everyone, were also seen as paramount, as was a need for greater overall community and civic participation.
Accompanying these hopes was a shared, pragmatic awareness of the likely future social and political landscape in Victoria (and wider Australia):
- an aging population,
- lower levels of governance,
- greater involvement of the private sector in social and community life, and
- increased environmental concerns driving social change.
Moving on to our consultation strategy, we talked about how we could include the voices and thoughts of young people, and people successfully engaging with young people, in the project. We deliberated the merits of calling this involvement ‘consultation’, as many people (young and old) could view this negatively as being an ineffectual and tokenistic concept. Subsequently, we explored strategies and formats that the project might use to counteract these fears.
It was a productive and energising meeting, with lots of positive feedback from the committee, and I look forward to getting these passionate people back into a room together in a few months’ time!
My next challenge is to synthesise the content that was generated at the meeting into some overarching principles with which to guide the project, plan and deliver the ‘consultations’.