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What do we want to understand from children and young people? Recent Better Chances Forum (BCF) connection meetings have focused on engagement practice. In October 2022 we stopped to think about what we really want to know and understand from children and young people, and to reflect on children and young people’s experience of engaging with us. Twelve BCF members participated in the session and insights from the conversation are summarised below.

  • Support and building trust are important when we are asking children and young people questions about what they want. They need to understand why information is being requested, where the information will go, how it will be used and how we will come back to them about how the information they provided has influenced the service they receive or other changes.
  • Knowing the boundaries can be important to children and young people feeling safe in a conversation. We can challenge traditional boundaries to work with what is right for that child or young person. A follow-up theme was identified about creating boundaries without bias.
  • Support children and young people to regulate – look for opportunities to role model and to share skills and ways to regulate.
  • Follow cultural protocols (and ask about protocols if you are unsure).
  • When we ask questions, we can try to find out about a whole person, not just their needs and not just needs relating to our service.
  • Thinking about language:
    • ask what words mean to people rather than assuming. Keep in mind that words can mean different things to different people (words like transparent, accountable and case management)
    • ask how people would like to be addressed. Sharing your own pro-nouns can be a good way to open this discussion.
  • We need to offer more platforms for children and young people to have a voice, especially First Nations children and young people. This supports accountability.

BCF facilitates monthly connection and reflection spaces for community sector workers. You can connect with BCF via email [email protected].