December 8, 2022

Date: 08/12/2022

Format: Online

Watch the recording here.

Our presenters share how they work collaboratively through participatory approaches with young people to shape, deliver and evaluate projects that respond to their needs, interests and priorities for themselves and their communities.

 Key messages:

  •  Youth participation actively involves young people in decision making processes on issues that affect them. Young people can:
    • Be consulted about their ideas and opinions
    • Researching issues that affect their lives
    • Plan and/or lead community activities or events
    • Ultimately, this leads to young people feeling empowered and valued through centring their voices, thoughts and ideas
  • Respectful and equal contribution to the co-design process across all parts of the program is crucial for young people and program partners to contribute to the process. A true co-design methodology requires patience, flexibility and time for relationships to be built and outcomes achieved
  • Seeking feedback after each session on what worked well and what could be improved supports further program development
  • Tangible gestures of ‘thanks’ such as remuneration, combined with providing transferable skills that can contribute to the young person’s resume are vital to support youth participation in co-design processes
  • Celebrate successes, big or small
  • Face to face meetings improve trust and relationship building
  • Including lived experience deepens the impact of knowledge building


  • Time commitment:
    • programs need to take into account young people often have work, study and life commitments
    • it takes time for groups of young people to build rapport and trust in order to offer their voice

 Presentation title: Young Leaders of the West – Co-design with young people for young people


  • Sarah-Jane Blunt (Project manager, IPC Health)
  • Meg Humphrey (Project officer, IPC Health)
  • Daniel Torres (Young Leader, IPC Health)


The Young Leaders of the West is a partnership between IPC Health and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, with co-design principles utilised throughout. The program aims to combine young people’s experience with a public health approach to create outcomes – decreasing the normalisation of gambling and creating awareness of gambling harm through supporting high school students in X schools to deliver innovative activities aimed at increasing their communities understanding of gambling harm.

Four externally facilitated, online co-design workshops provided young leaders the foundational skills and confidence to commence work with other young people in 5 schools in the Western suburbs.

 Key outcomes:

As a part of this project, the Youth leaders worked with other young people to develop a range of engaging activities to deliver to secondary school students to increase awareness of gambling harm. This resulted in various projects including the Schools Podcast Challenge, a youth forum and the Brimbank Mural. An evaluation of The Schools Podcast Challenge demonstrated it successfully:

  • increased knowledge and awareness of gambling harm and access to service,
  • awareness of gambling advertisements, and
  • increased skills in community engagement, communication and podcasting.

Presentation title: Brimbank Young Researchers Program


  • Mariah Magri (Team Leader Brimbank Youth Services)
  • Dr Catherine Orr (Swinburne University)


A unique collaboration between Brimbank City Council, Brimbank Secondary Schools and Swinburne University of Technology delivered since 2018, to provide young people qualitative research skills to deliver a research project of their choice in their schools.

The team delivered 4 sessions utilising Participatory Action Research to explore power dynamics and research, demystifying the role of the ‘scientist’ to secondary school children in years 7 – 10 and empowering young people to develop their own research projects on subjects that mattered to them, presenting results to their schools at the conclusion of the program.

Key outcomes:

  • Some recommendations of student research projects are being implemented by their school, demonstrating the power of student voice to solve student issues
  • Young people feel more confident and competent to use their voices to make a positive difference in their lives and their communities
  • Young people have increased skills, including communication and public speaking skills and knowledge about research and university
  • Young people feel better connected with their peers, school and local community

Presentation title: From a seat at the table to future proofing communities: Codesigning disaster risk resilience with young people


  • Carla Hall (Disaster Resilience Programs Coordinator, YACVic Rural)
  • Sneha Challa (Disaster Resilience Peer Worker, YACVic Rural)


Future Proof is a collective impact project led by YACVic that brings together local councils, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs) and VicUni to drive locally-led recovery outcomes for fire-affected young people and communities. Young people involved in the project are engaged in their local communities to lead recovery projects and community decision making, and are supported to attain qualifications and industry linkages.

Future Proof aims to train and support 14 young peer workers and 14 youth workers in local communities, to support 150 young people to attain qualifications in youth work, community development, mental health and emergency services. 110 young people will be paid to drive locally lead programs through facilitated advisory groups and engage 1500 young people in local community projects to drive locally led recovery outcomes for fire-affected young people and communities. To do this, YACVic are coordinating a range of stakeholders through this project, including the following:

  • 8 Local Government Areas and service providers
  • 2 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations
  • 3 Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs) and
  • Victoria University (research and evaluation partners)

Through community consultations that lead to the development of Future Proof, including a report produced in partnership with the Department of Education and Training, and Bushfire Recovery Victoria, YACVic identified crucial and unique perspectives from young people who have experienced environmental disasters including:

  • Young people may have different and unique experiences of disaster compared to adults
  • Moving away from a deficit lens: Young people might face certain vulnerabilities during a disaster, but they should not be viewed as passive victims – they are experts in their own lived experience
  • Young people should be involved from planning right through to evaluation of any project that is targeting young people

Some additional resources –

Young Leaders of the West Presentation Slides

More information on IPC Health and Young Leaders of the West here

YACVic Presentation Slides

YACVic Resource: A Seat at the Table

YACVic Report: Speaking Up

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