Time to share the power: framework for an enabling environment for youth councils

Martinson, Martti (2021) Time to share the power: framework for an enabling environment for youth councils. In: Professional Youth Work: Principles, Practices and Priorities. Corney, Timothy and Broadbent, Robyn, eds. Youth Workers' Association, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 81-94.


At a time of rapid change in the political involvement of young people, the creation of structures to facilitate their participation in decision-making processes has been on the rise globally. In academic literature as well as in political discourse, youth participation is mostly associated with the involvement of young people in decision-making processes at various levels of governance and within organisations. Youth councils are often created with the aim of representing the interests of young people in the community through advocacy, lobbying and provision of advice to decision-making bodies. At the same time the landscape of youth councils, particularly at a local government level, is varied and often lacking evidence of best practice, an enabling environment and coordination. This chapter provides an overview of the findings from a mixedmethods comparative case study of local-level youth councils – the experiences of former and current members of youth councils and the professionals who support their work – in the Australian state of Victoria and in Estonia. Semi-structured interviews and an online survey across the two countries and in two languages were employed to map the experiences and identify youth councils’ successes, gaps and potential for improvement. The results reveal that local-level youth councils in Victoria and Estonia share many similarities, particularly in their aims, commonly undertaken activities and aspirations; however, there are also noticeable differences, which can largely be attributed to the relevant legislative framework, policies, coordination mechanisms and resourcing for youth councils that exist in Estonia but not in Victoria. As a result of the research, a framework for an enabling environment for youth councils is identified and conceptualised using the Enabling Environment Index (EEI) developed by CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, as a guide. This framework, which uses the three dimensions from the EEI and introduces nine new sub-dimensions, is presented and discussed in this chapter.

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Item type Book Section
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/43949
Edition 1st
DOI https://doi.org/10.26196/jwr0-vh04
ISBN 9780646836775
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3904 Specialist studies in education
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords Australia, Estonia, youth councils, political involvement, youth in politics, socioeconomic status, representation, youth work
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