Eighteen Under 18: Kids report on the hot-button issues in their lives, all the way to the UN

Image of silhouettes of children with the word future written across them.
Australian children and teenagers have prepared a report on the issues that are important to them.

What happens when children and teenagers lead research into the hot-button issues that affect their health, wellbeing and rights?

Australia will find out this Friday when 18 junior research leaders present their findings to a panel of influential Australians in Melbourne, including the National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell.

Commissioner Mitchell will then include those findings in her next report to the United Nations on how Australia is performing against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

University of Melbourne Professor Lisa Gibbs, who is leading this research partnership with the ABC children’s program Behind the News, said it will be the first time the UN has received a report featuring such a high level of input from children.

“Child-led research is becoming a really important way to learn directly from children and teenagers about their experiences and priorities as they grow up in a changing world,” Professor Gibbs said.

Professor Gibbs is Melbourne School of Population and Global Health Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program Director and Chair of the University of Melbourne’s Children’s Lives Research Initiative.

“For the past 18 months, we’ve been working with more than 80 young people on research questions they’ve identified and developed, and we’ve been impressed by their curiosity, engagement and insights,” she said.

One project, the Kids Contribute Study, on children’s contributions to home, school and community, drew responses from 10 800 BTN viewers.

The Kids’ Rights Survey drew 22 700 responses on how children and young people feel about growing up in Australia, what rights are important to them, and ease of access to necessities like doctors and schooling.

Friday’s panel, chaired by Megan Mitchell, will include UNICEF Young Ambassadors Eva Massey and Josh Brittain, Melbourne Boomers basketball player Maddie Garrick and Nadine Liddy, of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network.

Event details:
What: National Child and Youth Forum
When: 3pm, Friday 7 September
Where: Forum Theatre, Arts West, University of Melbourne
Follow the event on twitter: #ChildrensLivesAus via @Brockhoffteam
Available for interview:

  • Professor Lisa Gibbs, University of Melbourne, and Chair of the Children’s Lives Research Initiative
  • Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner
  • Derek McCormack, Acting Executive Director, Raising Children Network
  • Maddie Garrick, Melbourne Boomers and Australian Opals
  • UNICEF Young Ambassadors
  • Children and teens leading research projects.