A voice for children and young people in the city

Document Type


Publication details

Wilks, JL & Rudner, J 2013, 'A voice for children and young people in the city', Australian Journal of Environmental Education, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1-17.

Peer Reviewed



A major challenge for researchers and urban planning practitioners is how to obtain meaningful and influential contributions on urban and environmental planning activities from children and young people within the constraints of adult policy and practice. The key elements of this challenge concern traditional methods of communication between 'experts' and children and young people in rationalist planning settings, versus emerging research in relation to children's and young people's views and agency around civic participation. This article will address the work of a number of researchers and practitioners who have grappled with the inherent tenions of making planning practice and urban design more inclusionary, while facilitating and respecting children and young people's civic participation. This article also advocates the advantages and strengths of their participation in planning and urban design processes.With a focus on two exploratory programs developed by the authors in the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria, this article will demonstrate how the sharing of knowledge and skills between planning and design professionals and children and young people can lead to more meaningful and influential contributions from them. The programs examined were informed by leading practice both in Australia and internationally, and have assisted to develop children and young people's sense of spatial competence, and their confidence and efficacy in their local environment, contributing ultimately to their wellbeing. They have also supported the establishment of youth leadership groups with the confidence and skills to contribute to ongoing local government urban and environmental planning activities.

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