Western Australian children aged five to 12 are being encouraged to sign up for the inaugural Children’s VOICE Conference to be run by children for children as a platform to express their ideas about matters that are important to them in the world and in their futures.
UWA in partnership with UNICEF Australia is inviting children aged five to 12 years to register to attend the conference, to be held at The University of Western Australia on Sunday 17 November. Held in the lead-up to World Children’s Day on Wednesday 20 November, it will include a junior conference for five-to-eight-year-olds and a senior conference for nine-to-12-year-olds.
A children’s steering committee has been formed and the committee members are contributing to all planning decisions, including the theme of this year’s conference, Children’s Voice 4 Change: It’s our future.
The steering committee members feel strongly about issues that are affecting the world. Luisa, aged 11 said: “This conference will give kids the chance to be heard and listened to.”
Mitch, aged 10 said: “Our future is important to us. All the kids in this conference worry about our future. I’m most worried about people not caring”. Lucy, eleven, added “This conference is about working together, about giving a voice to those who cannot speak and about taking action.”
Dr Gemma Scarparolo and Dr Fiona Mayne, from UWA’s Graduate School of Education, created the conference with the aim of providing a platform for children to share their ideas, knowledge and questions with other children so that they could be informed and active citizens, and feel a sense of empowerment about their future.
Dr Mayne said at the core of all the decisions was to ensure that the children on the steering committee were involved and consulted about all elements including the theme, the format and who speaks at the conference. Once children had voiced their ideas, the next step was to provide them with the opportunity to share their ideas with adults who could help them influence changes in legislation, policy and practice.
“Children need to be given the chance to speak and to be heard, but this is meaningless if no action is taken as a result,” she said.
The Children’s VOICE, ‘Voicing Our Ideas for Children Everywhere’ conference is an exciting venture which they hope will encourage children from diverse backgrounds to speak up and share their ideas about matters that are important to them and their future.
It’s hoped the conference will draw attention to the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child and World Children’s Day, which is marked each year on November 20.
The global day of action for children, by children raises awareness of the most pressing issues facing children domestically and globally and the vital funds needed to respond. The theme for 2019 is for every child, a childhood.
UNICEF Australia CEO Tony Stuart said UNICEF was committed to ensuring that every child had the opportunity to be heard and to help make positive change in their lives.
“This conference is an exciting opportunity for children across WA to participate in a meaningful discussion and I can’t wait to hear their thoughts and opinions about their futures and how we can help make that a reality,” Mr Stuart said.