Children from across Ipswich will question council representatives, school principals, community leaders and service providers about issues that matter to them to mark the start of national Children’s Week (24 October-1 November).
Monday’s livestreamed Q and A event is the first of its kind in Australia and is part of Mission Australia’s Children’s Voices project aimed at helping young people feel heard about what makes them connected, protected and represented in their local community.
Four children aged 10 to 12 from Riverview State Primary School, Redbank Plains State Primary School, Leichhardt State Primary School and Goodna State Primary School will participate in the event.
The children have created their own questions around how they can be better supported and listened to, what measures can be introduced to ensure they feel safe, how they can be helped to thrive at school and how they can be made to feel included in a service, workplace and school.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said Ipswich City Council is committed to engaging with children, young people and families on the issues that matter to them now and into the future, and this commitment is a clear part of council policy.
“We want to ensure our city values the diverse views of children and young people, and forums like Ipswich Children’s Voices are about giving them an opportunity to be heard and play a more active role in shaping our community,” Mayor Harding said.
“Council is committed to working closely with local organisations to create a strong, healthy and bright future for our city’s children and young people.”
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said it was incredibly important people in leadership positions were able to deliver policy that helped give children a sense of belonging.
“This is a project which is designed to take children’s voices and use them to inform us about what we need to do more or less of and what we might need to change,” Mr Toomey said.
“As adults, we have to be prepared to hear things that we don’t want to hear, and crucially we need to be prepared to act on what we hear. When you really listen to what is being said, you will be struck by the wisdom and simplicity of their understanding of what we tend to consider a very complicated world.”
Ten-year old Theodore Courtney said with COVID-19 creating feelings of disconnectedness, he would be asking the panel how the Ipswich community can become more connected with each other, outside of technology.
“I am very honoured to have this experience and have the panel listen to us and hear what we have to say. Hopefully this will help our community to work together to become a better place,” the Riverview State School student said.
Mission Australia’s Communities for Children is an early intervention and prevention program aimed at improving the development, health and wellbeing of children aged 12 and under by addressing local needs and encouraging community participation.
Register for the live stream of the panel discussion here.