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

Commissioner Mitchell will then 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 is 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.

University of Melbourne Professor Lisa Gibbs, who is leading this research partnership with the ABC children’s program Behind the News, said it will be the first time the UN has received a report featuring such a high level of input from children.

“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. More than 32,000 children and teenagers participated, providing significant insights into the views and experiences of Australian children and teenagers.

The forum panel, chaired by Megan Mitchell, is being held at the University of Melbourne, will include:

  • 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

More Information

Hannah Morrice, Research Fellow, Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program

+61 3 8344 3439