The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) has released the findings of a recent study, This Place I Call Home: the views of children and young people on Growing up in Queensland, into the views of more than 7000 Queenslanders aged four to 18.
The QFCC heard that children and young people are optimistic but want to have their voices heard by decision-makers and crave face-to-face connections.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said children and young people from South East Queensland to as far north as the Torres Strait and west to Mt Isa and Longreach shared their views with the QFCC through a survey, focus groups, post-card questions and artwork.
They provided insights into:
- how they experience life in their community;
- their career aspirations and the supports and barriers they face to achieving their goals; and
- the big picture topics and their ideas for possible improvements.
Mrs D’Ath said young people across Queensland shared similar views despite their age, gender, geographical and cultural differences.
“Young people have shown they are very well informed and want adults to respect their interests to make Queensland an even greater place to grow up in,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“This report by the QFCC is a great eye-opener for many Queenslanders because it shows our kids across the state – our future leaders – are truly engaged with the wider world and how they want their future and Queensland’s future to look.”
QFCC Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon said children and young people issued adults with a call-to-arms through the report, asking their parents and adults to put down their phones, hear their concerns and interact with them more.
“The vast majority of young Queenslanders are optimistic about their future, but they want a greater say in decisions that affect them,” Ms Vardon said.
“They want adults to pay attention, have respectful conversations, and listen to what they have to say about the things important to them — they’re asking adults to put their phones down and to interact with them more.”
Mrs D’Ath said while phones were convenient for work life, that was not necessarily true for family life.
“My children are the most important part of my life, but like every other working mum I know how hard it can be to step away from work because we now carry our work around with us in the form of our phones,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“It’s important to remember that we can’t expect our kids to switch off from electronic devices if we as parents are not.
“We need to try and communicate with our children and importantly our teenagers. This includes being willing to listen, not just talk.
“Importantly, just as we encourage children to reach out if they need someone to talk to, including Kids Helpline, as parents we should be willing to reach out for help when we struggle to manage these challenges.”
The QFCC will use the findings to advocate for young Queenslanders and influence decision-makers to consider the views of young people when developing policy.
“Our future generations told us loud and clear they want youth-friendly spaces to safely connect with friends, improved public transport, sustained transition to renewable sources of energy, and better information to identify mental health issues,” Ms Vardon said.
“They are interested in how the digitised future will impact them and want more access to life-skills to help as they transition from school to employment, and they want guidance on how to manage their current workloads and stress.
“There is a lot of criticism these days of our young people and their addiction to screens. But what they tell us is they’re being driven to everything digital — games for recreation, screens for education, websites for resources, but what they actually want is real conversations and connections.”
Ms Vardon said the report provided a snapshot of a large group of Queensland young people at one point in time, building a youth evidence base that provides valuable information to support Queensland’s priority areas.
“Ultimately, young people have shown they are very well informed and want adults to respect their interests to make Queensland an even greater place to grow up in,” Ms Vardon said.
The report is available at www.qfcc.qld.gov.au.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath