Ethical Considerations


Ethical considerations are essentially about avoiding any harm to children and young people as a result of their participation in your organisation’s decision making.

Duty of Care and Minimising Harm

Individuals and organisations seeking to involve children and young people in decision making have a responsibility to minimise the risk that children and young people will be harmed physically or psychologically as a result of the participation process.

There are at least two ways in which children and young people can be at risk of harm in the participation process. They can be at risk:

  1. as a direct result of their experience (e.g. a child or young person may share personal information that causes them distress or anxiety)
  2. from the adults facilitating the process.

It is therefore critical that your organisation carefully consider the possible negative impacts of involving children and young people, and has procedures in place to minimise risk. One example would be to develop a procedure for notifying a parent, carer or counsellor if a child or young person becomes distressed as a result of their participation.

It is also important to be familiar with legal guidelines that exist to protect children and young people from harm and abuse. For example, in NSW the Working With Children Check is one way that unsuitable individuals are prevented from working in roles where they have direct, unsupervised contact with children and young people.

Checklist for Ethical Considerations for Children and Young People’s participation

  1. Do you have a procedure in place for supporting any children and young people who experience distress or any other negative consequence as a direct result of their participation?
  2. Have all the adults working on this project been assessed for their suitability to have direct, unsupervised contact with children and young people?
  3. Is the location for the consultations suitable for children and young people?
  4. Do you know how you will protect the privacy, anonymity and confidentiality of the children and young people who participate?
  5. Have you informed children and young people of the limits to confidentiality and when it may be breached?
  6. Have you consulted the relevant privacy laws in your State or Territory?
  7. Will you provide compensation to children and young people over and above reimbursement? If so, how and when?
  8. Have you considered additional ethical considerations when seeking the participation of "children and young people doing it tough”?