In all work we strive to engage tamariki and rangatahi
We include their voices and perspective in our work, and support them to have input into government policy and decisions that affect children and young people
The Office of the Children's Commissioner is passionate about listening to the views of children and young people to both inform our work and provide advice to government agencies. Our key mechanism for doing this has been through our Young Person’s Advisory Group (YPAG) - first established in 2003.
YPAG has enabled our Office to engage regularly with young people so that our decisions and our advocacy are based on the current lived experiences of young people. We are proud to be told by YPAG members, past and present, that their experience on YPAG has added value to their lives.
After a number of internal discussions as well as discussions with YPAG and stakeholders, our Office has decided that the formal structure of YPAG and the criteria required for young people to be considered for the group prevented our younger and more vulnerable children from participating. As an organisation that advocates for our most vulnerable, we saw this is a real gap in our child and youth participation practice.
To address this gap we have designed a service that we hope will capture the voices of children 5-18 years-old and children who are vulnerable to factors outside of their control, such as economic, social, mental, cultural and physical. The service will see our Office partner with schools in communities where these systemic factors are likely to exist. We will work with students to enhance civic education so they are empowered to have a voice and engage with them on matters that require their views.
The service is expected to start early in 2015 and will be evaluated at the end of the year.
The Office would like to acknowledge every young person who has been involved in YPAG over the last eleven years. It has been an absolute privilege to listen and learn about the world through the eyes of children and young people.
We are changing the way we consult with young people this year so will not be forming a Young Person's Reference Group in 2015. We apologise to those looking forward to the opportunity to apply and be part of this group. There is more information about this decision above. There are a number of organisations that continue to operate children and youth advisory groups so we suggest you contact them if you wish to be part of something like this. There is a list of some of these organisations below.