The Youth Engaged Policy (YEP) project found that positive views of the role young people should play in policy making are not always evidence in practice. While there are some stand-out mechanisms for consultation and collaboration there is no comprehensive understanding or approach to youth engagement. From the perspective of policy practitioners and young people, the tools and mechanisms of engagement, the infrastructures supporting engagement, and organisational and community cultures of participation are uneven, sometimes weak and ineffective or inaccessible. For young people, there is a potent lack of respect for young people and the role they play in Australia society in the present and future. Issues associated with resourcing and structural inequalities alongside challenges in cultivating cultures and processes for inclusive forms of policy making and evaluation in community and government organisations were identified across the project. Encouragingly, policy makers expressed readiness to explore initiatives to address those deficiencies, and both young and adult participants enthusiastically developed new ideas to facilitate engagement.
In line with a desire for a fresh approach, we developed a holistic, accessible and adaptable mechanism for identifying and assessing the conditions underpinning youth engagement in Australian governance and policy making – the YEP. This tool is supported by a flexible framework that enables policy processes to meaningfully engage with diverse young people and achieve a transformation in policy making that encourages and includes young people and their communities as active participants.