Youth-Participation-Research-Brief-Hero-image-2

Enabling young people’s participation in residential care decision-making – research brief

Download PDF

The literature on how young people participate in decision-making in residential care identifies three main aspects of participation: being able to access information to take part in decisions that matter; having opportunities and capabilities to express their views freely; and having an impact on the outcome of the decision-making process (Bessell, 2011, 2015; Lansdown, 2018; Sinclair, Vieira, & Zufelt, 2019). These key aspects of meaningful and authentic participation also include having the space and time to reflect, form a view, change one’s mind, and consult with an advocate that may shift the inherent power imbalance in residential care decision-making (Davis, 2019; Wong, Zimmerman, & Parker, 2010). Because young people in residential care have experienced an extreme intervention in their freedoms and rights, participation should necessarily involve more than having a say in individual matters and include expressing views and being taken seriously in matters relating to policies and systemic decisions that affect their lives (Davis, 2019; Lansdown, 2011). Yet in the most recent survey of 321 children and young people in residential care in NSW, 60% of whom were aged 15-17 years old, only 49% said they usually get a chance to have a say and usually feel listened to; 21% said they don’t usually get to have a say and don’t usually feel listened to, and these rates were worse amongst females (Robertson, Laing, Butler, & Soliman, 2017). When this survey was repeated in 2018 with 143 young people, the percentage who reported that they usually get a chance to have a say and usually feel listened to reduced to 48%; and the proportion who don’t usually get to have a say and don’t usually feel listened to increased to 25% (NSW Department of Communities and Justice, 2019).

 

This brief addresses the following issues in young people’s participation:

 

  • Understanding participation
  • Participation for groups of young people in residential care
  • Why is participation important?
  • Benefits of participation
  • Models of participation
  • Enabling practice: implications for practitioners and organisations
  • Young people’s participation in service, program and policy design

You may be interested in: Youth participation

Young peoples' participation is a right, not a privilege
Young peoples' participation is a right, not a privilege Written by: Meaghan Vosz
Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Australian young people should be assured the right to express their views freely in all matters that affect...
Read more
10 ways to enable young people's participation in therapeutic residential care
10 ways to enable young people's participation in therapeutic residential care Written by: Meaghan Vosz
In this blog, I’m keen to offer practitioners in therapeutic residential care some ideas about how to involve young people in decisions that affect their lives. Many young people in...
Read more
Isaac's story: Having a voice in out-of-home care
Isaac's story: Having a voice in out-of-home care Written by: Isaac Kimberley Lamb Lauren Cooper
Isaac is 15 years old, about 6ft tall, and you know when he is in the room. Isaac lives in his house with one other young person. Isaac experiences the...
Read more
Tahlia’s story: Having a voice in out-of-home care
Tahlia’s story: Having a voice in out-of-home care Written by: Tahlia Lauren Cooper Kimberley Lamb
Tahlia is a 16-year-old young woman who likes to be in complete control of her world at all times. She is as strong, articulate and as sassy as they come....
Read more
What does voice and choice mean in Intensive Therapeutic Care?
What does voice and choice mean in Intensive Therapeutic Care? Written by: Kelly Royds
Voice and choice can be an extremely difficult concept in Intensive Therapeutic Care to get right. We know participation is a right, not a privilege, and we also know young people...
Read more
“It wasn't just listening to your ideas, it was following through”
“It wasn't just listening to your ideas, it was following through” Written by: Meaghan Vosz Shelley Keevers Dylan Williams Ben Bonnie
In 2019 and 2020, a group of young people with firsthand experience in out-of-home care joined PhD candidate Meaghan Vosz to research the practices associated with ‘giving due weight’ to...
Read more
Q&A with Mohita Kapoor from CREATE Foundation
Q&A with Mohita Kapoor from CREATE Foundation Written by: Kelly Royds
In September 2020 Mohita Kapoor, the NSW State Coordinator for the CREATE Foundation was invited to speak at our Therapeutic Specialist forum for those working within the Intensive Therapeutic Care...
Read more
“Just ask Us”: Insights into working with young people with disability
“Just ask Us”: Insights into working with young people with disability Written by: Laura Moloney
In late 2020, the Advocate for Children Young People (ACYP) shared their first report dedicated exclusively to the unique lived experiences of young people with disability. They asked 370 children...
Read more
Mandatory consent education, a win for all young people
Mandatory consent education, a win for all young people Written by: Kelly Royds Cyra Fernandes
Consent education will be mandatory in Australian schools from 2023, a win for Chanel Contos’ #teachusconsent movement and all young people who have called out a lack of holistic consent and sexuality...
Read more
The strengthen connections and relationships project
The strengthen connections and relationships project Written by: Lynne McPherson Meaghan Vosz
What is this research about? Young people in residential care face major challenges that can prevent them from forming healthy relationships and a strong personal identity, which are critical building...
Read more
What Professor Cindy Blackstock can teach us about trusting children and ourselves
What Professor Cindy Blackstock can teach us about trusting children and ourselves Written by: Kelly Royds
First Nations children's rights activist and 2022 International Childhood Trauma Conference speaker Cindy Blackstock recently said that adults need to trust children with the truth. "They can handle it," Blackstock...
Read more