How much time can I spare?
Before agreeing to become involved or participate, it’s important to understand how much time will be involved. Are they simply asking you what you think in a survey, or will you be expected to go to meetings or do work?
Being taken seriously
If organisations or groups are asking what you think about something, it’s good to ask them how they’re going to use this information. That doesn’t mean they have to agree with everything you say, but you do need to know that your opinions will be taken seriously.
Will my name be used?
Some groups and committees have a set list of members and this means, if you join, your name might be published in reports or on websites. If someone is asking you what you think, you might want to ask them if your name will be used. If you don’t want your name to be used, you should tell them.
No two people are the same, and there are lots of different points of view out there. When discussing your own point of view with others, it’s important to listen as well as speak. It’s OK to disagree, but it’s not OK to put others down or try to make them feel bad or stupid.
Looking out for yourself
If something happens in a meeting or discussion, or if you receive an email or message that upsets you, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell one of your parents or another adult you can trust. Most times it will be just a simple misunderstanding, but it’s important to look out for yourself, too.
Organisations and groups sometimes like to take photos of young people participating to put on their website or use in reports and newsletters. Sometimes you will be asked to fill out a form where you can decide whether you give them permission to take your photo or not. If you don't want your photo taken, let the group coordinator know.
What will it cost me?
Before you get involved, ask the organisation what things they will pay for, such as travel, accommodation (if you need it), and other things like food. Most organisations should be able to cover your costs. Some give you money in advance; others give you the money back when you give them your receipts. It’s always best to clear this up beforehand.
The Commission’s participation kit
We’ve created a kit for groups who want to help kids participate. It’s called TAKING PARTicipation seriously. If the group you’re involved with don’t know about this kit already, why not let them know about it? It’s on the Commission’s website at kids.nsw.gov.au/kids/resources/participationkit.cfm.