We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

In this section you can find out more about the ethics process, police vetting and research on the topic of child and youth engagement.                                                                                                   

Ethics advice

Police vetting

Engaging children with disabilities

Child and youth engagement - further reading

Child Impact Assessments

Ethics advice

Depending on the topic, you may need to run your proposal through an ethics committee before undertaking research, surveys, or engagement with children. 

  • For any research relating to health or disability services, you can apply for approvals from a Ministry of Health accredited Health and Disability Ethics Committee (HDEC). 
  • Most universities have a human ethics committee, mainly to support their staff and students’ research approvals.  These expert committees may provide advice and/or approval on the ethics of your plan for engaging with children. 
  • The research ethics committee at SUPERU (Social Policy and Research Unit) reviews research by government and non-government agencies at their request (on a commercial basis) email enquiries@superu.govt.nz with ‘ethics committee’ in the subject line. 

Guidelines for Māori Research Ethics: A Framework for Researchers and Ethics Committee Members is available here. The guidelines address Māori ethical issues within the context of decision-making by ethics committee members.

Police vetting

Police vetting is required for all people who will come in contact with children, for example people running focus groups.

The NZ Police Vetting Service provides criminal history checks on potential and current employees or volunteers to Approved Agencies that provide care to children, older people and vulnerable members of society in New Zealand.

Further information is available here.

Engaging children with disabilities

All children can be asked, and communicate, their views.  Taking an 'ability' approach ensures you focus on how children with disabilities can participate and communicate.

You may ask them what supports they need to participate, e.g. location accessible in wheelchairs, documents laid out in large writing, sign-language interpreters, 'alone space' that is quiet and relaxing where someone can go who feels overwhelmed, and games that are inclusive that make the engagement fun.

A resource developed by collaborators in Victoria, Australia, entitled "Engaging Children in Decision Making" lists factors to consider for children with disabilities:

  • Each child's capacity (developmental status and chronological age)
  • The nature and severity of their impairment – especially what they need to assist their communication
  • The child's experiences, understanding, and ability to reflect on their experience (how they think about the world)
  • The child's previous experience of being consulted.

The resource also lists some ways children with disabilities can be supported:

  • let children choose type of group - e.g. some wish to be in same age or ethnic group, that may or may not have diverse abilities
  • include all children in decision-making on full range of topics 
  • provide information well in advance in appropriate formats
  • a physically and emotionally safe setting for participation - including removing physical barriers
  • welcome support people who know the children, to help them communicate or interpret for them.

Child and youth engagement - further reading

Child Impact Assessments

We have a basic, easy to follow framework to assess impacts of decisions on children. We have a presentation that explains how the child impact assessment can be used.

We recommend you ask the following questions to assess how your planning, decisions, service design and policy may affect children (their needs and rights).

The three CIA questions and two actions

1. How will the decision affect different areas of children's needs?

2. Will the decision have differential impacts, eg. on different groups of children?

3. What do children say? and

A.  Make decisions based on what is in the child's best interests.

B.  Give feedback to children on how their voices influenced the decision.


These links will be helpful if you want tools or information to undertake child impact assessments or help develop policies in the best interests of children:

  • The OCC has developed a set of questions as a policy guide for agencies and organisations to use as a starting point in to support the holistic intent of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy, with a focus on ensuring children and young people are accepted, respected, connected, involved and empowered.
  • The Ministry of Social Development has developed the UNCROC Child Impact Assessment: Best Practice Guideline on how to consider children during decision-making. They also developed a summary page that illustrates simply how to use the tool.
  • Office of the Children’s Commissioner: Being child-centred (2015)
  • UNICEF has developed a tool to help businesses identify impacts on children, as well as guidance on what businesses can do to embed child-centred thinking in their operations and value chain (2013)
  • Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People has a useful model for assessing impacts on children’s rights (2006)

Check out these links for further reading on child impact assessments including evaluations of international models:





We welcome your feedback

Listening2Kids is designed as starting point for organisations wanting to engage with children or do it better.

We welcome any thoughts on how we could improve this information, add to it or make it more accessible.

This includes if you have identified relevant online advice that we could add to the links here.

Contact us via children@occ.org.nz with 'Listening2Kids' as the subject line.

Looking for something different?

The Listening2Kids information is for organisations who want to gather the views of children to inform decision making about priorities, policy, service or product design, or evaluation.

This advice is not intended to support professionals who want to strengthen how they work directly with children (e.g. teachers, counsellors, social workers and nurses). If this is your interest, you should seek support from your relevant professional body.