Participation means that children and young people have a right to:
- be consulted and have their views taken into account;
- access to information;
- freedom of speech and opinion;
- challenge decisions which have been made on their behalf; and
- take part in groups and organisations.
The right to participate is included in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC
Government is committed to participation because it recognises that children and young people have an important contribution to make in the development of policies and services that have an impact on their lives. Participation gives both Government and children and young people the opportunity to engage with one another. ). It also underpins the work of the Ministerial Sub Committee on Children and Young People in taking forward their six key priorities.
The Participation Network was set up to support statutory agencies, local government and government departments in engaging with children and young people in public decision-making and to ensure that their views and opinions are heard at the heart of government. The Participation Network is funded by OFMDFM and currently has 67 member groups. To find out more about The Participation Network and current consultation opportunities, log on to its website at the following link.
The Department of Education is in the process of developing a ‘Network for Youth’, the aim of which will be to strengthen the voice of children and young people in all relevant aspects of government provision. A Working Group was established in August 2007 made up of a cross section of stakeholders from both the youth and children’s sector to look at a range of ideas and to give advice on what the Network might look like. The group ran a consultation process which ended 30 November 2008 and reported to the Department of Education at the end of January 2009. The Department is currently considering the Working Group’s report.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has produced guidance for public authorities on consulting and involving children and young people – ‘Let’s talk Let’s Listen’ Log on to www.equalityni.org for more information.