Every child has the right to be heard on decisions that affect their lives and last month the hopes and concerns of Australia's children were heard loud and clear in Parliament House.

Our brilliant Young Ambassadors spoke with 19 MPs and Senators about the things that matter to kids across the country: education, equality, family and many more deeply felt issues in their lives. 
Young UNICEF Australia ambassadors with Julie BishopYoung Ambassadors Kate Row and Jeffrey Effendi present their report to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP. The Minister said the Young Ambassadors are "important in helping to give a voice to the aspirations and specific needs of children and youth."

It all began last year, when the ten Young Ambassadors held a national consultation to find out what matters most to children in Australia; what they worry about, what change they want to see in the world and whether they feel included in decisions that shape their lives. The Ambassadors listened to 1500 children from diverse communities across the country and all of their conversations made one thing clear: children are complex individuals with big experiences and important things to say.

Australia's kids explained how they:
  • Worry about children who are homeless, living in poverty and needing care.
  • Are concerned about the absence of family and friends, especially when they seem to be in danger.
  • Feel the most important thing is family and keeping their family together.
  • Want to feel safe in their community. Children said they are very affected by media reporting on local and global issues and it contributes to how secure they feel.
  • Feel included in decisions but mostly at home. We need to do more to include their voice in big decisions that affect them.

It's crucial that children have this chance to explain how they feel, said Young Ambassador Catherine Yen. 

“Adults may agree they want children to
be happy, healthy and safe but what’s
important to an adult does not always
reflect what is most important to a child.”

"For example, while talking about to children about child rights at a local primary school I learned only half the class felt safe in their local community," Catherine remembered. "After talking to the students, the class teacher approached me to express real surprise at the low levels of security felt by the children around her. It’s moments like these that can properly inform adults and help them to ensure children survive, thrive and have their rights realised."

The children's answers make up Things That Matter, a special report which the Young Ambassadors have left in the hands of the country's top decision makers. Last month the advocates converged on Parliament House to meet with 19 MPs and Senators and explain, face-to-face, what really matters to Australia's children.

The Young Ambassadors meet with Angus Taylor MP The Young Ambassadors meet with Angus Taylor MP The Young Ambassadors meet with Angus Taylor MP
It was an extraordinary experience for the Young Ambassadors and Catherine wanted to share it with the many children who contributed their opinions.

"The Ministers and Senators that I've spoken to today have been so excited to hear from you," said Catherine. "They're impressed and excited that there are so many children in Australia who are aware of the issues and challenges that children around the world face."

The impact was immediate. Within hours of meeting the Young Ambassadors, Senator Claire Moore stood in the Senate and championed the importance of youth participation.

"We have the opportunity to listen to the voices of our young people," Senator Moore told the Parliament. "The commitment we have to make to them is that they have a voice and it should be loud enough for us to hear."
“It is so important that we respond now that we have had this challenge put to us.”