National Child and Youth Forum

Eighteen under 18: kids report on the hot-button issues in their lives, all the way to the UN

What happens when children and teenagers lead research into the hot-button issues that affect their health, wellbeing and rights?

Australia found out on Friday, 7 September, when 18 junior research leaders presented their findings to a panel of influential Australians in Melbourne, including the National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell.

Commissioner Mitchell will include those findings in her next report to the United Nations on how Australia is performing against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The National Child and Youth Forum was an opportunity for the young researchers to present their key research messages and recommendations for action to a panel of influential Australians in relevant sectors.

“Child-led research is becoming a really important way to learn directly from children and teenagers about their experiences and priorities as they grow up in a changing world,” Professor Gibbs said.

Professor Gibbs is Melbourne School of Population and Global Health Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program Director and Chair of the University of Melbourne’s Children’s Lives Research Initiative.

“For the past 18 months, we’ve been working with more than 80 young people on research questions they’ve identified and developed, and we’ve been impressed by their curiosity, engagement and insights,” she said.

The University of Melbourne and Commissioner Mitchell worked with teams of child and teenage co-researchers across Australia to explore their opportunities to contribute in their daily lives, and their knowledge of their rights, and to co-develop surveys. The Kids Contribute Study, on children’s contributions to home, school and community, drew responses from 10,800 BTN viewers. The Kids’ Rights Survey drew 22,700 responses on how children and young people feel about growing up in Australia, what rights are important to them, and ease of access to necessities like doctors and schooling.

These stories and related surveys were aired by partner ABC Behind the News. Over 33,000 children and teenagers participated, providing significant insights into the views and experiences of Australian children and teenagers.

The forum panel, chaired by Megan Mitchell, was held at the University of Melbourne, and included:

  • UNICEF Young Ambassadors Eva Massey and Josh Brittain;
  • Melbourne Boomers basketball player Maddie Garrick;
  • Nadine Liddy, of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network.
  • Derek McCormack, Acting Executive Director, Raising Children Network
  • Sarah Larsen, Journalist, Behind the News, ABC
  • Dennis Yarrington, President, Australian Primary Principal Association

We acknowledge the generous funding support from the Myer Foundation and the University of Melbourne Children’s Lives Research Initiative to the Kids Contribute study.

For further information about the study and the Forum:

Background to the Kids Contribute study: Why Helping at Home is Good for Kids.

BTN coverage of the Kids Contribute results

BTN coverage of the Kids’ Rights result

National Child and Youth Forum Booklet


Being part of the National Child & Youth Forum from Brockhoff Child Health Program on Vimeo.

National Child and Youth Forum from Brockhoff Child Health Program on Vimeo.

Project Team

  • A/Prof Lisa Gibbs
    Prof Lisa Gibbs, Jack Brockhoff Child Health & Wellbeing Program
  • Katitza Marinkovic
    Katitza Marinkovic, Jack Brockhoff Child Health & Wellbeing Program
  • Hannah Morrice
    Hannah Morrice, Jack Brockhoff Child Health & Wellbeing Program
  • Lauren Carpenter
    Lauren Carpenter, Jack Brockhoff Child Health & Wellbeing Program


Contact Name
Hannah Morrice