For most organisations, decision-makers and senior leadership comprise a limited number of young people. This means that the perspective of young people may not always be included in the decision-making process. For this reason, obtaining feedback and consulting with young people allows organisations and leaders an opportunity to gain exposure to a youth perspective.
There are many compelling reasons for gaining feedback from young people and including them in the decision-making process, including:
- providing young people with an opportunity for representation. With young people often making up a large portion of an organisation, gaining their input is important to ensuring they are engaged and feel a sense of ownership
- increasing the effectiveness of programs being developed and policies being implemented by ensuring decisions are fully informed by the needs and feedback of young people
- developing the skills and capability of young people, contributing to the building of future organisational leaders.
When seeking feedback, it’s possible to obtain it through a variety of methods. For example, consultation and feedback sessions are one of the most popular options—where a group of young people are asked for feedback at the same time and their responses are compiled. Another alternative is to request written or electronic responses to questions or documents, allowing individuals to respond away from a group setting in their own time. In addition, a standing advisory group or a youth representative on the decision-making body could be implemented to provide more regular and consistent feedback.
When engaging with young people, it’s important to act in a way which ensures they feel their time and input is valued. Some things that you may want to take into consideration are:
- considering how accessible you are making the feedback opportunity for young people (as a lot of the time young people may not have access to a vehicle or be able to afford time off work to be able to participate)
- demonstrating the value placed on the opinions of young people by providing follow up information on the outcomes that were arrived at from their feedback
- using language that is both appropriate for young people while also not being condescending. Many young people will have limited professional working experience, so extensive use of acronyms or corporate ‘buzz words’ may not be fully understood.
There are many online sources available that elaborate on the value that youth feedback and consultation offers and ways it can be done effectively. As an example, here’s a link to a good example from the South Australian Government.