Children talk, Minister listens
Mary Hanafin, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Children, will tomorrow (Friday, 23 June) attend a forum to present the findings of a wide ranging consultation undertaken for the National Children’s Strategy. The Consultation Forum in the Grand Hotel, Malahide will be attended by the children, young people, adults and organisations who made submissions to the National Children’s Strategy. The consultation raised the issues which were important for, or of concern to children, young people and those who care for and work with them. The consultation identified the issues they think should be prioritised for action. Their views will inform the development of the National Children’s Strategy, which is to be published in September.
Over 130 children and young people and some 150 representatives of community and voluntary organisations and state agencies will attend the Consultation Forum. The children will come from around the country and will include traveller children, young people who are homeless or living in care who had all made submissions to the National Children’s Strategy. Almost 100 younger children who made submissions will attend a theatre workshop in the morning organised with the involvement of the Abbey Theatre.
The Government’s consultation with children and young people was the first of its kind undertaken by Government. Some 2,500 children took the opportunity to contribute their views and ideas. There were a number of aspects to the consultation with children:
- the Minister invited the children to write to her and provided a special e-mail address;
- schools were invited to organise submissions and the Minister visited a number of schools to hear directly for the children;
- the voluntary agencies, under the umbrella of the Children’s Rights Alliance held consultation events around the country.
In addition to the submissions from children and young people, some 320 adults and organisations working with children made submissions to the National Children’s Strategy. A report of outcomes of the consultation process will be published in July.
Minister Hanafin believes that “this is an exciting opportunity, especially for children and young people. Their willingness and obvious ability to contribute, as evidenced by the number of submissions, shows their belief that they can change the world. It’s our responsibility as a Government and as adults to ensure we deliver on that belief and listen to their voices to ensure their continuing commitment to civil society and a better tomorrow”.