Building the capacity of the Commission’s Young People Advisory Group

The NSW Commission for Children and Young People's Advisory Group (YPAG) had two roles:

  1. Inform the Commissioner about what’s important for children and young people in their communities
  2. Give the Commissioner advice about topics the Commission is interested in.

There were 12 members of the YPAG, recruited from within six school communities. The six schools represented the three school sectors in NSW and provide some representation across the State. The 12 YPAG members were in Year 9 and 10 at school and had the skills and knowledge required to participate effectively in the group, and the commitment of their families to take part.

When the YPAG was first formed, members attended a two-day orientation at the Commission. The Commission arranged travel and accommodation for the young people and their parents.

Leading up to the orientation, conversations were held with key Commission staff and with each school’s support people so that everyone was aware of their roles and responsibilities. An information package was also sent out before the orientation. The package included information about the Commission, the Advisory Group, the role of schools, as well as consent forms for the young people and their parents.

A session for the parents/carers was held at the orientation so that they had appropriate knowledge of what their children’s participation in the YPAG would involve.

The orientation for the young people included lots of getting to know you activities, so that they would feel comfortable with each other and with Commission staff, including the Commissioner. Training was also provided for the young people around their role in the YPAG and the role of the Commission, and also in research skills.

YPAG members received governance and media training, as well as additional research training.

We asked the young people to evaluate the orientation sessions. They reported feeling satisfied with the orientation because they had:

  • a greater understanding of their role
  • developed relationships with other members and key Commission staff
  • gained new skills to help them in their role.

    “Helped me understand the role I will be playing as an advisory group member. Got to meet and form friendships with the other members.” (Girl, 15 yrs)