What do young people actually want?

The Commissioner for Children and Young People Helen Connolly visiting the Barossa Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) last year to hear their "hopes and dreams". Photo: Stuart Taverner
The Commissioner for Children and Young People Helen Connolly visiting the Barossa Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) last year to hear their "hopes and dreams". Photo: Stuart Taverner

The hopes, dreams and issues faced by young people in the Barossa, Light and Lower North have been laid bare in a recent report by the Commissioner for Young People. 

According to the report, many young people had a sense that they would need to leave the Barossa to pursue further education but wished to come back to live when they were older. 

The commissioner visited the Barossa last year and met with 67 children and young people aged between 7 and 20 years old in primary and secondary schools. 

During these sessions, the commissioner wanted to know their aspirations, what they wished for by the time they're 25, and what decision-makers could do to help them achieve their dreams.

There were also concerns about employment opportunities outside the region's key industries.

"We heard that there are plenty of opportunities in the wine industry, tourism, hospitality or farming, but for those interested in other areas options are limited," the report found. 

Education, representation and mental health

More mentoring, work experience choice and leadership opportunities were some of the requests that young people had.

"They wanted to be more involved at a younger age in local decision making, and suggested that local politicians should visit schools to hear from children about issues that concern them."

Education on inclusiveness and support for mental health were two areas the participants were keen to see improve.

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the things that participants highlighted as wanting was a "bigger library with books".

Commissioner for Children and Young People Helen Connolly said there were common themes across the South Australian regions they visited. 

"Most wanted to have a good home, live with people they cared about and get a good job."

"But when asked to describe what these things meant to them as individuals we learnt that they know they are part of a global youth generation."

"These young people know more than prior generations about what they can achieve, and they know what support they expect from leaders, and how they want to be treated."

Recommendations

Seeing as young people in the Barossa Valley talked about wanting a more accepting and inclusive community, the report suggested that the region could look at more public celebration of diversity, with a focus on gender, culture and disability.

The Barossa community leadership could look at more public celebration and acknowledgement of diversity, with a focus on gender, culture and disability.

The Commissioner commended the Youth Advisory Group, describing it as a "strong, active, passionate and committed group of young people who could be well placed to develop a campaign to create a more inclusive community".