The Parra Youth Matters youth jury project will be the first attempt at involving 16-17 year olds in a Youth Jury in Australia. To date Youth Juries have only been conducted in the United Kingdom. Youth Juries are modeled on adult-based Citizens' Juries but have young people as participants. Parra Youth Matters will be the first Youth Jury worldwide that also have young people as designers and co-ordinators of the process.
Past Youth Juries
Cambridge City Council organised a Youth Jury in 1999. The jury consisted of 15 young people who were nominated by schools and community youth workers. The selection of jurors was based on their willingness to contribute and for their spread of age and gender. The jury was run for the purpose of actively and meaningfully involving young people in Council decision-making. The Council let go of power by enabling the young people to design the consultation and decide the best way of doing things.
Response from the jurors who took part showed appreciation for the process. One juror stated "We can make a big difference: the Council should listen to us and I think they will". Another said, "I have done things in this project that I never thought I would have the confidence to do."
A much lower key Youth Jury was held in Belfast 2000. This jury was comprised of 18 randomly chosen year-12 students from nine post-primary schools in Northern Ireland. The students identified the strengths and weaknesses of the current Northern Island system of post-primary selection. The Citizens' Jury concept and the issues around post-primary selection were explained to students before the jury took place. During the jury jurors questioned a range of expert witnesses to help them clarify the issues. The jury concluded with the jurors forming recommendations for what they believe are the best future options.
A Youth Jury was also held in 2002 in Leicestershire on behalf of the Leicestershire Rural Partnership. The objective was to hear the views of young people from across the county about what is important to them as young people living in Leicestershire. The jury was made up of fourteen young people aged between 14 and 18 who were representative of the Leicestershire community as a whole in regards to gender, age, mobility, ability and geographical location. The jurors made recommendations on how to ensure that young people in Leicestershire are engaged in decision-making, how young people want to be able to access services and what their priorities are as young people in Leicestershire.
The jury highlighted that there are a number of barriers to young people becoming independent. The jurors noted the lack of choice in relation to political parties and a feeling that they are not considered to be part of the electorate. Jurors felt that having a say in areas such as the future of society and college would make young people feel more independent.
(For more information check out: www.democraticdialogue.org/briefing/citizens.htm)