Screenshot showing the childrens' engagement project on Shaing Banyule.

This article has been co-authored with Banyule City Council, a city of around 135,000 residents in Metropolitan Melbourne (Australia).

Banyule City Council are seeking input from Children to help with the development of their Child, Youth and Family Plan (2021-2031). The team also wants to promote the ability of Children to be engaged citizens and vital stakeholders in civic participation and so, A Children’s recipe for a good life (online engagement) project was born.

A significant amount of work went into the Engagement Plan for this project as the team were committed to doing something that would appeal to children and genuinely seek their input. It was clear from the outset, fresh creative thinking was going to be required.

In addition to this, the plan had to remain fluid while everyone was navigating the impacts of Covid -19 restrictions on possible in-person activities.

Every Primary School in Banyule was engaged via an email invitation to participate in the project. A social media campaign was launched via Council Facebook, and Banyule Children Facebook pages were also used to raise awareness. They also promoted in their local council publication The Banyule Banner (which is delivered to every household in Banyule) ensuring that the project had excellent community awareness and reach.

The initial community response has been fantastic, with almost 800 unique visitors and great, quality responses from participating children – The Council remarked that “we’re really thrilled with the feedback and participation rates”.

The Banyule team used a variety of tools through The HiVE which enabled a diverse, interesting, dynamic and meaningful way to engage children.

Breaking the engagement program into three activities, each using a different HiVE tool, allowed children to self-select and participate in a way that is appropriate and inspiring for them.

Using the Visioner tool for Activity 1 provided instant gratification and results for the participants, empowering them and building confidence that their ideas and opinions will be heard, seen and valued.
screenshot of visioner activity

They selected the Form tool for Activity 2 using the paginated survey function, as this allowed the team to break down the key components / ingredients into bite sized pieces (pun intended) reducing the possibility for them to become overwhelmed.

screenshot of form tool

Activity 3 used the Gather tool as the final piece of the puzzle and enabled children to self-express and create representations of ‘a good life for children’ that was meaningful for them.

screenshot of gather

“We intend to share this artwork as part of Children Week Art Exhibition – showcasing both the children and their valued contribution to civic participation” Belinda Coombs - Communications Officer.

Embedding videos with children as the ‘hosts’ was another innovative feature of the engagement. This helped increase the accessibility of the project and made it more relatable for children as participants – plus the young hosts really did an outstanding job and had fun creating these videos! Everyone wins!

The consultation findings will be made available on the project page and they will also re-engage their key channels of promotion to share the findings. The team is plotting creative, fun ways to present these findings that are in keeping with the spirit of the project… so many possibilities!