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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 1042 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

It is important that young people, like old people, be valued for their experience and perceptions and their contribution to our world. The Greens take the view that the measure of how we are valued lies in how meaningfully we can participate in decisions that affect us and in shaping the world we live in, and that there is a role for government and civil society in facilitating and resourcing such participation.

This is particularly the case when we are young, as we do not generally have access to resources then or necessarily the experience to assert our involvement in decision-making processes. In this context some aspects of our policy on young people and some of the commitments we have continually made in election campaigns are worth revisiting.

At the most obvious level, we would like to give young people the option to vote from the age of 16. On a more immediate level, the views and perspectives of young people should feed into urban planning, public transport timetabling, venue licensing, public housing management, health service design and so on.

The usual technique strategy is to include a youth representative on any pertinent consultative committee. But, as anyone young who has sat on such a group will attest, it often appears to be simply cosmetic. True participatory decision-making requires wide-ranging engagement with young people in youth friendly environments, youth representation at all levels of organisation, thoughtfully conducted focus groups that reflect a range of young people with an investment in the topic and, where appropriate, the engagement of professionals with sympathy and expertise in working with youth and facilitating their involvement and participation.

This all might seem a bit of a drag and an overwhelming consultative burden, except that we are not talking about consultation. We are talking about the incorporation of such processes into the operations of government and community to enable genuine participation.

I was fortunate last year to meet Dr Walter de Oliveira when he was out from Brazil conducting a series of workshops on working with young people. I subsequently spent some time with him in January this year at the World Social Forum in Brazil. He was one of the organisers of that function.

Dr de Oliveira started working in the streets of Brazil at a time when the World Health Organisation said there were 37 million street children in Latin America. He participated in groups that worked to promote discussion of social issues amongst the street children. They had to develop creative ways to hold the attention of these young people. Dr de Oliveira used the word "psychodramaturgy" to describe the mixture of drama, education and psychology they employed to start dialogues. They were also heavily influenced by the work of Paulo Freire. If people are not aware of his work, one very important one was the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which deals with these sorts of issues. The focus was not on the education process as in schools but on the learning process so that the child or young person's attention is captured without a disciplined framework.

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