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Youth Participation Kit: Young People

Last updated: 20/07/2016 7:03 PM
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​This publication is designed to give you an idea about how, as a young person, you can participate in your community, and government, not-for-profit or private organisations, and what to expect. It includes a guide to getting involved, promoting your own cause, tips for doing your own projects and how to deal with organisations who are involved with young people.  

Get Involved!

Resource 1

This publication is designed to give you an idea about how, as a young person, you can get involved and participate in your community.  It includes a guide to getting started, details on the different kinds of things you might try, and useful tips along the way.

Why participate?

Being involved in your community gives you the opportunity to shape your world, now and for the future. As a young person, you can give your perspective, ideas and your creativity to make a difference for everyone, including other young people, organisations and the community at large.

What you can get out of participating:

  • a sense of satisfaction and achievement
  • make new friends and valuable contacts
  • boost your confidence and self esteem
  • try new things to discover what you're good at, and the kinds of things you enjoy
  • gain great experience that will be useful throughout your career
  • provide advice to organisations and have your voice heard
  • make a valuable contribution to an organisation's decision-making processes
  • learn about organisations and how they work
  • feel like you're making a difference in your community.

What your participation can do for the community:

  • increase understanding of young people's interests, needs and concerns
  • encourage other young people to participate
  • demonstrate that young people are important and valuable contributors
  • stimulate innovation, change and new ideas
  • be part of an 'all hands on deck' approach for community projects, tasks and initiatives
  • develop awareness of a particular issue.

Case Study: Zal Kanga-Parabia

Zal was the winner of the Lotterywest Cultural Endeavours Award at the 2015 WA Youth Awards. As well as being a talented musician and photographer, he also dedicates a lot of time to volunteering—his passion is mentoring other young people. Zal does this through a number of projects including National Youth Week and Home Is Where My Heart Is. More recently he founded the successful Youth Music Program at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre where he singlehandedly mentors musicians, photographers, filmmakers and artists.

"Getting involved with the community is so crucial to my identity. 'Community' is defined by the people within it, the people who I spend Friday afternoons with writing music, the people that I spend Saturday nights with taking photographs with in the Stirling Ranges, those people that I work with to create a better outcome in youth music. My friends, family, everything around me is my community, so it seems almost impossible not to be involved! After we realize this we can make a choice to add to the efforts and create a brighter, better more exciting future for us all and the place we live in." Zal Kanga-Parabia

How do you do it?

Table 1 - Step-by-step guide to getting involved

Step 1Think about why you want to get involved, and what kinds of things you're interested in doing. See Resource 2
Step 2Create a shortlist of the kinds of opportunities you're interested in. See Resources 2, 3 and 4
Step 3Search for opportunities. See Resource 2
Step 4

Evaluate the opportunities available and make initial contact.

If you're going to start something yourself, make your plan.

See Resource 3

 

See Resources 4 and 5

Step 5Start doing it!See Resources 5, 6 and 7
Step 6Check in with how you're going. See Resource 9
Step 7Think about other opportunities. See Resource 9
Step 8If you ran a project or started something new, wrap it up and evaluate. See Resource 8

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50

Where to Start?

Resource 2

There are so many different ways to get involved in the community, it can be hard to decide where to start! This sheet has some ideas to get the ball rolling.

First things first

Before thinking about how you want to get involved in your community, you should ask yourself why you want to get involved. Figuring out the 'why' gives you a better chance of choosing the right 'what'.

Some common reasons why young people want to get involved are to:

  • meet new people
  • help others
  • stimulate and influence change
  • find a new hobby or activity
  • learn or develop skills
  • build experience for their resume.

Once you've thought about the 'why', you can start to think about the ways you would like to participate. This will depend on your 'why', as well as your personality, likes and dislikes, and the skills you already have. For example, if you're into sports, computers, animals, teamwork or anything else, there's probably a way to participate that involves putting this to use. If you choose something you're interested in, you'll probably have a more successful and enjoyable experience.

Useful Tip

There are so many different ways to get involved in your community, it can be hard to choose where to start! Talking to people who know you can be really helpful— they might be able to tell you about opportunities they know of, or help you work out what kinds of opportunities are suited to your personality.

What's out there?

There are lots of opportunities to get involved in a range of different ways. Here is a list of examples to get you started:

Help provide a service

This category is what most people think of as 'volunteering'—giving your time or services for free to help others. Some examples include:

Give advice or have your say

There are also lots of opportunities to share your ideas on how to improve your community. Some of these include:

  • joining your local Youth Advisory Council (more details in Resource 3)
  • getting involved with  organisations who advocate for young people, such as the Commissioner for Children and Young People or Youth Affairs Council of WA
  • joining The Panel to complete online surveys
  • applying to represent young people in the WA YMCA Youth Parliament
  • becoming a board member in an organisation that helps the community (see Resource 3)
  • being part of one-off consultations and events hosted by various organisations from time to time (see 'Finding an Opportunity' below).

Help with community activities

Every community has lots of activities and events that are only possible with the help of volunteers. For example, you might:

Advocate for a cause

If there's an issue or cause you're really passionate about, you might like to become an advocate for it in the community. Some ideas include:

  • finding an organisation who supports the cause and helping them with their work
  • starting your own organisation or social enterprise to support the cause (see Resource 4)
  • running community events to raise awareness or fundraise (see Resource 4)
  • starting petitions
  • writing an online blog or 'letters to the editor' of your local newspaper.

Lend a hand in emergencies

When something bad happens, there are lots of people who help out—and many of them are ordinary people who volunteer with emergency services. These include:

Finding an opportunity

Once you have an idea of what you'd like to do, you need to find out where and how you can do it. Volunteering WA and YACWA's Pling have online databases of opportunities, or you could consider visiting your local youth centre or Volunteer Resource Centre to talk to someone about where you might be able to get involved.

If you're interested in becoming a mentor, you can also see an online database of opportunities through the Australian Youth Mentoring Network. And of course, doing an online search can help once you've got an idea of what you're looking for.

If you're interested in youth issues and opportunities, there are some organisations who often share articles, ideas and opportunities through their channels. You might like to follow some of these groups on your social media platform of choice:

Case study: Kirsten Beidatsch

"Volunteering for the community is the most important, valuable thing you can do, especially volunteering across diverse organisations. I have learned skills I use every day, met the best people in the community and networked with members of other volunteer and professional sectors. Proving what I can do as a volunteer got me my job and gained me the respect of my community and it makes you feel good about yourself to know you are giving something back. There is a volunteer role to suit everyone, you just need to go out and find it." Kirsten Beidatsch

Kirsten is the 2015 Volunteering WA Youth Volunteer of the Year, and has also received awards at the WA Youth Awards and from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. She has been involved in a wide range of community activities and organisations, including providing a community activity at the Mt Barker Community Garden where she serves as the Chairperson, and lending a hand in emergencies with the Mt Barker SES unit as the Local Manager.

Using her knowledge and experiences as a carer for a family member, she also gives advice by serving on her local Shire's Disability Access Committee and the WA Community Health Service Disability Access Committee for Plantagenet Hospital. Kirsten knows how valuable volunteering is, and so she works hard to help other young people get involved in the community as well. 

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50

Joining a Group or Organisation

Resource 3

A lot of the time, your participation in the community will be through an existing organisation. Organisations seek input and ideas from young people for their service delivery and decision-making processes. By getting involved, you get experience, make contacts and learn important business skills. It can also be a great way to really make a difference in your community.

Choosing a group

There is a wide range of organisations and groups out there, so it's important to take the time to find the right one for you. Look for organisations that are working to achieve the goals that are important to you, and who you believe to be ethical and making a real difference. You can find information on most organisations through their websites and social media channels (reading the comments section is a good idea), and by asking people who are familiar with the work they do.

When looking at different opportunities, it might be useful to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are their goals the same as mine?
  • Do their opportunities look practical and fun?
  • Can I participate close to where I live, work or study?
  • Do they seem ethical?
  • Does their work seem to be making a real difference?
  • Are there ways I could 'start small' with a low level of commitment and gradually become more involved when it suits me?
  • Does it seem like there are opportunities to participate in decision-making?
  • Will my participation give me valuable experience to use in future study or work?
  • Can I offer something useful to the organisation?

Get in touch

Once you have selected an organisation, you might want to sign up online, send them an email, phone, or go into their office. Whichever approach you use, the response will tell you a lot about whether this is an organisation for you. A welcoming, professional response when you first contact them will give you some confidence in the organisation and provide you with a clear path for getting involved right away. You might like to do some initial research for organisations that have a good reputation and a supportive environment where volunteers are respected, valued and provided with worthwhile opportunities to make a difference.

Get started

Some groups require induction, training or orientation, so it is important to be prepared and spend some time learning about what they do before getting involved. It can sometimes seem a bit daunting, but this will give you further opportunity to see if the organisation suits you and whether you suit the organisation. Don't be afraid to pull out early if you are not happy—but once you have made a commitment, do your best to stick to it.

When you start out with an organisation, they should give you all of the information you will need, including:

  • guide to what you will be doing
  • explanation of why and how your efforts will help
  • background information about the organisation and what else they do
  • details of any policies, procedures or requirements you need to abide by
  • who you can ask for help if you need it.

Remember, you can ask for more information if you feel like you need it.  

Things to expect when you are involved with an organisation

Organisations usually have policies, procedures and structures in place that organise how they do things. This can be frustrating when you just want to get out there and help. But it's important to remember that these things exist to make sure that the organisation works safely and effectively, so even though things may take a little longer to get done, the rules are there for a reason.

Treat your volunteer commitments like you would your professional or personal commitments. If you can't be there for any reason let people know with plenty of notice.

As a volunteer you have responsibilities, but the organisation also has responsibilities to you. You are entitled to be:

  • treated with respect
  • provided with the information, training, supervision and other support you need
  • working in a safe environment
  • covered by insurance
  • treated without discrimination.

The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement has more information about how organisations and volunteers should work together. You may like to look at these to help you choose an organisation.

Get more involved

Organisations will have different levels of involvement to suit different levels of commitment, skills and time availability. This can create opportunities to increase your involvement, such as:

  • taking on leadership roles
  • developing new initiatives for volunteer action
  • representing volunteers and young people on working groups
  • representing volunteers and young people on the board of the organisation.

This can lead to some of the most satisfying roles for a volunteer, where you really have a sense that your contribution is making a difference, not only through the practical work you do, but also in helping steer that organisation and ensuring its sustainability for the future.

When you're in an advisory role

Being in an advisory role in an organisation can take some getting used to. Being part of important meetings and talking to people can be very intimidating. You may feel that you do not have the knowledge and experience to make a significant contribution, but this is not the case.

You should always remember that you:

  • have unique views and ideas
  • were given this opportunity for a reason
  • are there to share your ideas and you should be heard.

Believe in why you are there. The organisation has chosen you for a reason. Your views and ideas will be valuable for the organisation, even if you can't quite see how. As a young person, you have a lot to offer an organisation. 

Getting your message across

Being assertive means making sure your voice is heard, but not in a way that could offend or upset anyone. You have a right to ask questions and to express your views and opinions. That is why you are there, so speak up. However, listening carefully, being polite and respecting the views and opinions of others will go a long way towards making others respect you, listen to your ideas and take them seriously. 

If you're feeling uncomfortable in a role, find someone to talk to about it—you'll probably feel better once you let someone know, and they should be able to help you work out how to feel more at ease.

Case study: Youth Advisory Councils

Many local governments in WA have Youth Advisory Councils (YAC). YACs are groups of young people who are regularly involved in the community and local government, provide advice to staff and councillors, and often put on events and activities for local young people. They can work on their own projects, or be consultants to make sure that youth perspectives are being included in a range of decision making at the council. This can include helping to prioritise funding for youth activities or development projects, or planning events for young people.

To find out if your local government has a YAC, check their website, visit a local youth centre, or speak to a staff member at the Council. Most YACs welcome new members, so why not give it a go!

If your council doesn't have a YAC, you can talk to the youth development officer or community development officer about starting one. There may be Council approval processes and people you need to win over, so you will need to be patient while you get things started.

Resource 6 and the 'Youth Participation Kit: Guide for Organisations' have useful tips, and other YACs are usually willing to provide advice as well.

YAC Bunbury

"The Youth Advisory Council gives people between the ages of 12 and 25 the opportunity to effect positive change within the Bunbury region. This change can occur through advising the City Council on youth related issues or take the form of projects and initiatives that are generated by members of the YAC. Being a part of the YAC has enriched my life immensely and it is an experience that I wholeheartedly recommend to any young people who are interested. Instead of complaining about the problems facing the young people of our city, YAC will challenge you to become part of the solution and actively work towards addressing these issues." Karl Sullivan, Deputy Youth Mayor

The YAC is united by its vision to "be a voice not an echo".

YAC Bunbury advises Bunbury City Council on issues affecting young people as well as creating exciting projects to benefit young people in the Bunbury region. These projects include the annual SHIFT Youth Festival, the Future Possibilities Youth Conference, and TEDx Youth Bunbury where YAC members volunteer, speak and assist in the running of the event. They also run the Youth Reference Group where young people can give direct feedback about their ideas, issues and concerns about their community. The YAC also has a strong social media presence (Facebook, Instagram) which is run by members.

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50

Starting Your Own Project

Resource 4

Making a difference on an issue that really matters to you is incredibly rewarding. If you've found a cause that you are passionate about, you can do something about it.

Turning your passion into action

If you're really passionate about something, there are lots of different ways to help your cause. You might want to:

  • encourage more people to care about the cause (raise awareness)
  • convince decision-makers to change a rule or policy (lobbying)
  • directly help someone/something in need (provide services to help)
  • collect money to help pay for these things, either for your own activities or an existing organisation (fundraising).

Depending what you want to do, you will probably find that you need to get other people involved. However, in the beginning you should start by working on your own or in a small group to make a plan.

Making a plan

Step 1 — Set your goal

What do you want to achieve? Write down your mission and describe exactly what you want to get out of pursuing your cause. Be specific and identify practical, achievable goals.

Some examples of suitable goals are:

  • fundraise for cancer research
  • have your local skate park upgraded
  • help people understand mental health issues better.

Step 2 — Get informed

Once you know what you're aiming for, you need to learn as much as you can about your cause. This will help you to choose the right actions to achieve your goal, and will also help you to understand what is achievable and what other people are already doing. You might change your goal after doing this, and that's perfectly okay.

It would be a good idea for you to:

  • do some research, including searching online, checking your local newspaper for any relevant stories, and talking to people who have done similar things
  • see what other people and organisations are doing for the cause
  • look at what strategies other countries, states and towns are using that could work in your community
  • identify the challenges you might face in addressing your issue
  • check for guidelines that might affect your project, for example you may need a permit for fundraising from the Department of Commerce.

Being informed will help you make better decisions, approach your issue more responsibly, and execute it in the best way possible. You will learn something new, and be able to answer any question someone may ask.

Step 3 — Make a plan

Once you are informed and know what you want to do, it is time to make a plan that will set out your objectives, strategies and resources. When it's complete, you can refer back to your plan to keep you focused, tell you your next step, and remind you why you're doing all of this hard work.

Objectives: 'Goals' are broad and can sometimes be a little daunting. It will be easier to reach your goal if you have more specific objectives to help focus your efforts. Your 'objectives' should be things you can measure and are a key way of evaluating your success. For example, some objectives related to the goals in Step 1 are:

  • raise $500 to donate to Cancer Council WA
  • convince your local council to do a survey about satisfaction with the skate park
  • increase 100 people's knowledge of mental illness. 

Strategies: These identify the actual activities you are going to do to meet your

objectives. It is also a good idea to identify your stakeholders—anyone who will be affected by or interested in your project—so you know who you will have to talk to, or who you may need to keep informed, and create strategies for how you deal with them. Example strategies include:

  • hold a fundraiser free-dress day and flash mob
  • hold a meeting with a local councillor at the skate park

host a mental health forum for parents, with guest speakers.

There are some tips for strategies in Resource 5.

Resources: These are the things you will need to achieve your goals. They will depend on the size of your project, the strategies you use and what you have access to.  The resources you require may determine what you can actually afford to do. Consider what you might need for your project, whether you can get it, or if you need to ask for help (see Resource 7 for tips). Remember that people can be resources too—if you'll need other people to help you out, make sure you include them in your plan.

Example of a plan

Goal

  • Help protect the environment and encourage recycling.

Objectives

  • Raise awareness of environmental issues in the community.
  • Increase the amount of recycling done in the community.

Strategies

  • Write a letter to the local mayor asking for recycling bins to be put in local parks.
  • Start a petition at school for action to be taken on cleaning up the environment and recycling:
    • design a petition and identify the action needed
    • find out who to send the petition to
    • collect signatures
    • send to the nominated person.
  • Have an environmental awareness party for everyone at school:
    • seek support from administration
    • schedule a date
    • book a venue
    • send out invitations
    • announce the party at a school assembly or over the PA
    • get food and drinks, cups, plates and serviettes
    • organise compost bins and recycling bins for the day
    • create posters about environmental issues to display at the party
    • make thank you certificates to recognise sponsors.
  • Evaluate the project and share feedback with stakeholders (see Resource 8):
    • local council
    • students and teachers at school
    • young people in the community
    • your sponsors
    • local residents.

Resources

  • access to a computer and printer
  • money to buy supplies
  • paper for letters, petitions, invitations, certificates and posters
  • access to a venue with tables for food
  • food and drinks
  • cups, plates, serviettes, rubbish bags, compost bins, blu-tack
  • music to play at the party and a sound system to play it on.

Case study: YACtivate! Conference 2015

YACtivate! was an initiative of the Mosman Park Youth Advisory Council (MPYAC) held in 2015 with the help of a Department of Local Government and Communities Youth Activities Grant. The conference brought together young people and coordinators of Youth Advisory Councils from around WA to network, learn from each other, share ideas, celebrate their work and develop leadership skills.

The MPYAC members came up with the idea, and then took charge of the organisation of all aspects of the event. They:

  • applied for the grant to make the event possible
  • contacted every local government in WA to create an invite list for the event
  • developed the program for the day with a range of guest speakers who would inspire themselves and other young people
  • promoted the event through social media.

They also created the first ever Youth Advisory Council directory for WA as part of the project. YACtivate! had a great turnout, with thirteen YACs attending and great feedback from attendees.

"While YACtivate! is just the beginning, I can already tell this new kind of collaboration between Youth Advisory Councils and leadership development will do wonders in developing switched-on young people with the potential to make positive changes within their local communities." Georgie Carey, MPYAC Chair

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50

Ideas for Advocacy

Resource 5

If you decide you want to participate as an advocate for a cause, there are lots of different ways you can make an impact. We've presented some ideas here, however some of the best campaigns are those that are innovative and new, so think outside the box and see what you can come up with!

Get creative!

Sometimes the best advocates are the ones who take people completely by surprise with how they share their messages. You can be creative and express your ideas in art, sculpture, film, dance or music, and share your creations in the community. You might do this through existing forums like local arts competitions and exhibitions, or social media channels, or you could even put on your own event to showcase your work. If you have a great idea, run with it—your idea might just be the next worldwide phenomenon like flashmobs, crowdfunding or the ice bucket challenge!  

Writing letters or emails

When you believe that something needs to be changed, getting in touch directly with the people who can make that change is a good place to start. Work out who has the power to make the change—it might be a local government councillor, State or Federal Member of Parliament, or even the CEO of an organisation. Your correspondence should be respectful and offer practical and sensible solutions to the issues. Keep it short to have the best effect.

In most cases, someone will respond to you within a few weeks. Read their response carefully, and see if you think they might be able to help you later on in your campaign. There's no harm in asking, especially if they've given you a positive response.

Using online media

Online media gives you the opportunity to share your message widely, which can be particularly useful if your cause affects a lot of people. You might start a social media channel or page to share your messages and to engage in discussions about your cause. You could also start a written blog, video blog or even a podcast. If you're lucky, your online campaign might even lead to people contacting you to ask for more information, including journalists and/or decision-makers.

Sometimes the ability to share your message online has drawbacks, including that you are more likely to come across people who don't support your cause and who might want to attack, 'troll' or argue with you. The Children's eSafety Commissioner has some tips for dealing with this and can help if things get out of hand.

Using traditional media

Another way to spread your ideas more widely is by having them published in a newspaper or magazine. You might be able to have a 'letter to the editor' or even an article published.  See what opportunities are available and take the time to read other people's contributions to get a feel for what the publisher is looking for. If you're really passionate, you could even publish your own newsletter or mini-magazine.

Local radio and TV can also be used to promote your message. Think about what kind of story your local stations usually share, then work out how you can make your message fit. Then, get in touch and ask if you could do an interview or story on-air.

Start a petition

When your cause involves something that you think should change, creating a petition is a good way to show that you're not the only one who believes in it. For some decision-makers to take notice of your petition you need to follow their rules, for example, the WA Parliament provides a set of rules on their website. It can also be a good idea to talk to a decision maker (local councillor, Member of Parliament) before you start the petition to get them to agree to accept it when it's done. 

There are websites that allow you to conduct petitions online. When choosing which one to use make sure that the one you pick will allow you to meet all of the rules of the group you're petitioning.

When people sign a petition, they usually provide their name, address and contact details. You must keep these details safe and only use them for the purposes of your petition.

Hold an event

Putting on an event is a great way to bring people together in order to fundraise or raise awareness for your cause. There are many kinds of events you could host, and you can be creative in how you get your message across. There are tips relevant to hosting events in Resource 7.

More information

There are many resources with ideas on how to advocate for a cause. You might like to look at the Youth Affairs Council of South Australia's Advocacy Toolkit, or the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition's Creating Change Toolkit.

Example: Letter to the Editor

"It is too easy for young people aged under 18 years to obtain alcohol through their older friends and parents. When young people drink, their behaviour changes and how they act is not acceptable. Binge drinking can lead to serious injury and is also extra 'fuel' for violence towards other people and property.

I'm a young person myself and I find this very concerning. Something needs to be done about this issue. We need more education in schools about the risks associated with consuming alcohol. Parents can help by talking to their teens about drinking and also by not providing them with alcohol." Gabrielle, aged 16

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50

Working with People

Resource 6

You're likely to be working closely with others when participating in your community. Working in teams is a great way to meet new people, to share the workload, and build your team and leadership skills. Good teamwork doesn't just happen, so here are some tips to help you learn to manage a team.

Keeping people informed

For your group to be effective, everyone will need to know what is going on. Holding regular meetings is a must, whether you hold them in-person or use technology to bring everyone together. Organising meeting agendas and minutes may sound boring, but they help you to keep your discussions on track, check that everything you decide is recorded for future reference, and keep people in the loop about the latest developments. Meetings don't have to be boring—there's no set rules for how they have to be run, so think outside the box, be flexible, and have fun.

Keeping people involved

It's common for people to come and go in projects, and for some people to be more committed than others, particularly in longer-term or ongoing activities. Things change in people's lives so you need to be flexible and understanding of this. Look for the positives, for example if people decide to leave a project it means you can recruit new members who will bring new ideas and points of view.

There are many ways you can help keep people involved, such as:

  • Asking people to commit to a set length of involvement. If they know what they have to do beforehand, they can decide whether it's right for them.  
  • Taking the time to let the team get to know each other. Team building activities help people to care about the people they're working with, which makes them more likely to stay committed. Plus, they're fun and help people to make new friends!
  • Giving members specific roles in the group. This spreads the responsibility and gives everyone a sense of purpose and ownership, as well as making everyone accountable for the things they've agreed to do.
  • Making meetings as fun as possible. Provide snacks if you can, be flexible with meeting times and choose venues everyone can get to.
  • Thinking about what people get out of being involved and talking about it. Give people the chance to offer their own ideas for activities, discuss people your members might want to ask to be referees for their resumes, and plan ways to celebrate your group's work together.
  • Asking everyone to be on the lookout for new members—this keeps people thinking about what makes a good team member. 

Holding good meetings

  • Meetings are a key part of teamwork, but there are lots of ways that meetings can become a chore. Below are some tips to make the most out of meetings.
  • Every meeting should have an agenda so people know what to expect. It should be sent out to everyone beforehand so they can prepare in advance. You also need to appoint someone to take 'minutes', or at least to record the key information and decisions from the meeting. You might make this an ongoing role or rotate the responsibility to a new person each meeting.
  • Every meeting needs a Chair who is in charge of making sure the meeting runs smoothly. Some groups elect an ongoing Chair while others rotate the responsibility. Being a good Chair is a skill, and although it can be scary at first it can be really useful in other parts of your life.
  • Talk about how meetings will work at the start of the project. Agree what kinds of things should be discussed, how people can add items to the agenda that they want to talk about, and decide on some ground rules for how people should behave: for example, agree to always be respectful, decide if it's okay for people to interrupt, or if it's okay to use phones during the meeting.
  • Everyone should get a chance to speak. The Chair of the meeting is in charge of making this happen. If someone is dominating the conversation, the Chair should ask others direct questions so that their opinions can be shared too.
  • Silence is usually awkward, but it isn't always bad. It might mean that people need more time to think about something, are too scared to share their ideas, or that they don't understand the topic well enough to have an opinion. If you find your group in a long silence, ask questions to try to work out why.
  • Sometimes meetings can get heated when you're discussing important topics. The Chair should make sure that everyone is okay and call breaks if discussions get too intense. If your meetings are often like this, you might need to review your group's aims, meeting structure and agreements on behaviour to work through the issues.
  • If your group is working on a big project, it can help to break the group into sub-groups with a specific responsibility. For example, you might separate an events project group into scheduling, logistics and promotions teams that work on the nitty-gritty details separately in between meetings. This way you save meeting time by letting the small decisions be worked out outside of meetings but still making the big, important decisions together.
  • People tend to get bored after sitting still for too long. Think of ideas to get people moving during meetings. Depending on your group you might want to do quick activities regularly (stretches, games) or even have a meeting where you walk somewhere while discussing the agenda.

Building a good team

The point of working in a team is making the most of the different things each person has to offer. When you're putting a group together, consider the different skills you'll need to achieve your goal and try to find different people who can contribute to different tasks. Not everyone needs to be good at everything!

Having a diverse team is also important. Youth participation is about getting all young people involved in their communities, and all young people have the right to be involved.

Some young people find it harder to get involved because they have a disability, don't speak English as well as others, are really shy, or for other reasons. You may have to find ways to help them to overcome this so that you can make the most of the skills and insights they can offer. Try to engage as many different people in your group as you can.

Useful tip

Like any other skill, working with other people requires practice and ongoing learning. Everyone has to work with other people at some point, which means that we all have experiences that we can learn from and use to give advice. If you're not sure how to approach a situation or if you're having some trouble, talking it over with someone can be really helpful.

Dealing with problems

Not everyone gets along, and you might find yourself having a hard time dealing with someone else in your team. The most important thing is to keep your cool and do what you can to always be respectful—even if it seems the other person isn't! Usually you will have a leader in your group or organisation who you can speak to about the problem. You might feel scared or embarrassed, but remember that you have a right to participate without someone making it difficult for you, so explain yourself and ask the leader to help you manage the situation. It's not fun to deal with, but you're likely to face similar situations in the future as well, so it's good to learn to tackle them while you're young.

Case study: Dimitrio Sidi & Teach Learn Grow

Teach Learn Grow (TLG) is a youth-led organisation that aims to bridge the gaps in education by engaging young people as volunteers to mentor and tutor rural students who need a bit of extra help.

Through their Rural and eMentor Programs, TLG engage over 200 volunteers. The Rural Program is held twice yearly, providing a week-long face-to-face mentoring program to over 14 schools in rural WA. The eMentor Program is conducted online over the course of seven weeks, providing students with mentoring and help with things like peer pressure and goal-setting.

TLG volunteer Dimitrio Sidi's leadership was recognised when he was a finalist in the Edith Cowan University Community Leadership Award at the 2015 WA Youth Awards. As General Manager, Dimitrio oversees a core team of 35 volunteers who deliver TLG's programs. 

With so many people involved in the organisation, it takes a lot of effort to make sure things go smoothly. Dimitrio's top tips for working with people are:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate—especially when everyone has such a diverse range of interrelated tasks. Having consistent meetings as well as clear channels of authority for reporting helps keep communication clear.
  • Set a clear timeline of tasks for your team—this helps maintain accountability amongst your team members, and also helps you identify when people have a lot of tasks and may need assistance.  
  • Create a culture of empowerment and involvement—people are more likely to be productive and put in their all if they feel that they are contributing to the overall work of the team. Try to avoid making decisions for people or telling people exactly how to do their role. Instead, empower them by giving them responsibility and ownership over how they do their work.

"TLG would not be at the large scale that we are at today without the work of the many volunteers who have come together to help drive the organisation forward. The work of the individual in driving our growth is only as valuable as the amount that it is embraced and supplemented by the work of others within the organisation" Dimitrio Sidi

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50

Managing Projects

Resource 7

Running a project is a huge job, whether you're part of an organisation or have started it on your own. This fact sheet brings together lots of the things you'll need to consider to get your project off the ground.

Making a budget

A budget helps you keep track of what money you have and what money you have already spent. It helps you make decisions on what is important to spend money on, and what you can do without. You can draw up a budget in a table or spread sheet. This makes it easy to keep running totals and keep track of all your expenditure.

What is your expected income?

Where will your money come from? How much money do you have to spend? Be as realistic as possible, and list all the money you may be able to get through fundraising, sponsorship and grants.

What do you need?

Make a list of all the resources you need. Try to think of absolutely everything, including the big things, like venue hire and insurance, and the little things, like pens and paper. Once you are done, get quotes so you can figure out how much it might cost and what you can afford. Having a complete list of what you need will make it easier to decide what you could do without if you realise you don't have enough money for everything.

Have a contingency  

It is really important that your expenses are not more than your income. So, when making your budget, be conservative. Overestimate your expenses and underestimate your income. Then, add five to 10 per cent to the total amount of money you need. This is your contingency for unexpected expenses or things you may have missed. The booklet, My Money, My Life has an example budget and is available on the City of Joondalup Youth website.

Finding money

A lot of the time, to pull off your plans you'll need some money to get started. Here are some ideas on where to start.

Fundraising

Think of a fundraiser as a small project to make your big project possible. You could have a raffle with donated prizes, a dress up day, or better still come up with a fun and innovative idea that will get people interested. Think of the fundraising as a mini-project, and plan for it in the same way you plan for your big project—with a plan and a budget.

You may need permission or a permit to fundraise. For more information visit the consumer protection section of the Department of Commerce website.

Grants

Grants are one-off payments from an organisation. There are lots of grants available for young people to support their participation in the community. Here are some tips for preparing a grant application:

  • Read the application guidelines very carefully and provide exactly what they ask for.
  • People who read your application will probably read a lot of applications at once. Make yours stand out by clearly describing your project in full, while also making sure your application is reasonably brief.
  • You will need to provide your plan, your budget, proof that young people support your project, and show that it will have ongoing benefits to the community.
  • Include details of any sponsorships and partnerships you have secured.
  • Some grants are only available to legally recognised or incorporated groups, so you may need to partner with an organisation to be eligible. This is called an auspicing organisation. An auspicing organisation takes responsibility for the funds you receive. More information about incorporation and applying for grants can be found on the Department of Commerce website.

There are lots of different grants available. The Department of Local Government and Communities keeps a Grants Directory which is a good place to start looking, and you should also look up your local government to see if they offer grants.

Sponsors

Sponsors are businesses or individuals who give you money, goods or services for your project in exchange for promotion. If they donate services, equipment, prizes or other things they own, it is called 'in-kind'. If you can get in-kind support, this will save you money which can be put towards other things you need.

Tell them clearly how they will benefit from being involved in your project—sell it! Start with your own network of family, friends or associates and neighbouring businesses, and then branch out from there. Try to find sponsors who have an interest in your cause, or whose customers are the people you hope to have in your audience.

Consider writing letters and making phone calls to find sponsors. After this, you could organise to meet in person. If you just turn up somewhere and ask for donations, you may not find the right person to ask or they might not help just because they are unprepared.

It is important to acknowledge the sponsors that you have for an activity or event. Discuss with them how they would like this to be done. It could be a thank you in a speech, adding their logo to your posters, or displaying an acknowledgement of their contribution at the event.

Promoting your project

Getting people involved in your project is usually a key part of achieving your goal. These are ideas for how you might spread the word about what you're doing.

Word-of-mouth

Word-of-mouth is telling as many people as you can about your project. Do not underestimate its power. Tell everyone you know about your project and ask them to pass it on, to friends, family and anyone else. People are more likely to do something if they hear about it from someone they know.

Online media

The web provides lots of opportunities to promote your project. You can harness social media to increase your word-of-mouth promotion, or to reach new audiences. There may also be pages or groups on social media channels for your area or related to your cause that you can use to spread the word. You might also be able to find a local events database or 'noticeboard' website where you can share details. Have a search and see what is available for your community. When using social media, remember:

  • It may be better to create a separate page for your project rather than using your personal accounts, to protect your privacy.
  • You'll need to post regularly, but make sure it is relevant to your project and interesting for others.
  • If people are allowed to comment, make sure you plan time to check in regularly, to answer questions, give more information and moderate any negative or inappropriate comments.

Print media

Print media refers to anything on paper, like posters, magazines and newspapers. This is a great way to promote your project in public spaces and have ongoing exposure. You could:

  • hang posters at your school, library, community centre or shopping centre
  • design a brochure or postcard that can be left at places where young people hang out (but ask for permission before leaving them)
  • create your own newsletter or zine (a self-published magazine) for distribution in the community or at places where young people hang out
  • ask groups with existing newsletters if they'll include details of your project in their next issue
  • put details in your local newspaper's 'community noticeboard' or calendar.

Media interviews

Doing an interview with a newspaper, blog, radio or television station is a great way to share your passion and promote your project. Usually you need to approach media outlets directly, but before you do, you need to prepare. Sometimes a conversation is enough when contacting media outlets, other times you might need to write a media statement document which contains all of the key points. When preparing, you need to consider:

  • What about your project will be appealing to the outlet's audience?
  • What are the two or three key messages that you want people to know about your project?
  • What photo or video opportunities might be available to make the story visually appealing?
  • What makes this project different to other projects?
  • What 'curly questions' might the outlet want to ask to make the story more interesting?
  • What catchy title can you use to grab the outlet's attention?
  • How can you present this information in a short, clear way that will capture the outlet's attention (putting the most important information first)?
  • Which contact details will you provide to the outlet?

Copyright issues

If your project involves art, music or movies, you will need permission from the owner of the copyright. Usually, the copyright belongs to the original artist, or whoever paid for it to be made (for example, the producers of movies). If you are featuring original work, and the artist is actively involved, you usually don't have to worry. This includes bands playing their own music or artists agreeing to exhibit their work at your event.

If you are having an art exhibition, it is standard practice to prohibit photos to be taken at the event to protect the artist's copyright of their artwork.

If you are using recorded music, you may need to get a licence. The easiest way to get music licences is from the agencies APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) and PPCA (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia). The cost is usually related to how many people will attend your event or how much money you will earn.

If you want to play movies at your event, you will need to gain a legal copy of the movie (usually a DVD) and arrange a licence. Organisations such as Roadshow and Amalgamated Movies can help you organise licensing.

Risk management and insurance

When holding an event, you need to consider all the risks involved, to protect yourself as well as those attending your event. First, identify everything that could possibly go wrong and how likely each is to happen, then take this list and work out ways to minimise the risks.

If you want to have a public event or an event in a public space, you will probably need to organise insurance. There are two types of insurance relevant to events. These are:

  • Public liability insurance, which covers you from the financial risks of someone getting hurt, loss or damage to someone else's property or the financial loss of a third party resulting from your event.
  • Event insurance, which covers more than just risks to third parties. Some policies can cover you for cancellations, bad weather or unexpected costs.

If you are working in partnership with an organisation, or if you have contracted someone to provide services for your event, you may already be protected. Working in partnership with an organisation who can provide insurance cover (known as an auspicing organisation) can be a really good idea. All insurance companies have different rules and cover different things. Decide on what you need and make sure you read the fine print. There are lots of companies who offer competitive insurance for not-for-profit groups, but it can still be a significant cost.

Case study: Hyperfest

Hyperfest is an annual all-ages music festival based in Midland, run by young people for young people with the support of the City of Swan and Drug Aware. In 2016, around 2,500 people attended the boutique festival which featured 56 performers across four stages. The event is coordinated by a team of young volunteers, the Hyper team, who organise all aspects of the festival. 

Project management is a huge part of the Hyper team's work each year. Planning for the event starts around 10 months in advance, and includes the creation of plans for everything including logistics, marketing strategies, risk management, budgeting, artist selection and programming. The Hyper team divides into smaller teams who work on tasks related to the site, promotion, programming, activities, and volunteers, to share the workload around.

"We owe the success of HyperFest to the huge amount of work we do in the lead up to the festival. We've only just finished HyperFest 2016 and we're already working on making the next one bigger and better." Jemma Maxton, 17, Hyper Team

Learn more about Hyperfest at their website or Facebook page.

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50

At the End of a Project

Resource 8

Once you've delivered all of your strategies and taken all of your planned actions, your project comes to a close. Before you move on to your next activity, take some time to wrap up the project with these actions.

Saying thanks

When you have finished your event, concluded your role in an organisation, or sent off your petition, make sure you thank the people who helped you. This is really important if you had help from sponsors, or worked on a project in a group.  

Acknowledging people's efforts and recognising their contribution will reward them, and make them more willing to help you or another young person next time. It may also encourage them to help you by acting as a referee in your resume for future opportunities.

Having contact with those who have helped you once the project is over is a good way to get feedback and evaluate the process.

Evaluation

Take some time to reflect on how things went. Did you achieve your goal? Compare what happened to your original plan, and see what changed and what didn't. You may have achieved something you hadn't planned for!

Get feedback on your project from others. This could be done by asking questions or getting people to fill in a form. Consider asking for feedback from:

  • young people in your project group
  • young people or other stakeholders who contributed to your event or project (e.g. artists, service providers, stall holders, organisations involved)
  • young people who participated in your project or event (e.g. attendees).

The questions you ask could address the following:

  • How successful was the project in achieving its goals?
  • Was the project well organised and enjoyable to be a part of?
  • How did people benefit from attending or being involved? How do we know?
  • What could be done differently next time?

By evaluating your project, you will get good feedback and information that will help you with your next project, or help someone else with their first one.

My-Peer Toolkit has some tips and examples about evaluation that might help you.

Useful tip

Think about evaluation at the start of your project and what your measures of success might be. That way you can plan to collect the information you need along the way.

Case study: YMCA Youth Parliament

The YMCA Youth Parliament is an annual program which provides young people with the chance to share their views about their community and lobby for ideas they feel passionate about. The program is run by a team of volunteers known as the 'Taskforce', who look after all aspects of the program.

Evaluation and reflection are a big part of the Taskforce's work. At the end of the program each year, thank you letters and cards are sent to all individuals and organisations that helped out with the program. Participants are asked to complete surveys to collect information about how they felt about the program and any suggestions for future years. The Taskforce reviews this information and has its own feedback survey and debrief meeting, where suggestions are made and collected in a report for the following year's Taskforce to read during their planning. This ensures that ideas for change are collected for future years.

"Feedback surveys give us useful information, and they also empower the participants by giving them a voice to shape the program for future years." Ashlee Kovalevs, Youth Parliament Coordinator

"Evaluations help us improve our procedures and fix up the gaps—we know the program gets better every year because we take on feedback." Lucy Tillotson, Taskforce Communications Coordinator

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50

Making Your Experiences Work for You

Resource 9

Participating in your community comes with lots of great benefits. While you give back to your community, you can also get a lot out of participating, and you should make the most of what is on offer.

Resumes and job hunting

More and more, employers are looking to hire people with diverse skills and who show passion for their work. Being involved in the community is a great way to develop and show off those skills, and it shows a commitment and dedication that will catch the eye of people reading your resume. 

When you're writing job applications, make sure you include details of your participation. There aren't any 'rules' about how you do this, so you can be flexible and try different ways to highlight all the great things you've done. Remember to give a brief overview of what you did or the organisation that you were part of before getting into the details. You can also consider including links to a website with more information, if you think it's relevant to the employer.

You'll also need to include referees when applying for most jobs, and it's likely that someone you worked with while being involved in the community would make a great referee for you. Just ask!

Resume Tip

Include clear examples of the kinds of things you've been able to achieve, from the simple things like 'created and managed a project plan' to 'negotiated with local community leaders to gain their support for the cause'.

Including one or two achievements that you're particularly proud of will also show your passion, for example, 'I was very proud to achieve my goal of raising $1000 for the local wildlife refuge'.

Looking after yourself                                     

Being involved in the community can make you feel great—you gain self-confidence, meet people with similar interests, and feel like you're making a difference. However, sometimes things don't work out the way you planned and can become stressful. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as personality clashes, people not being as enthusiastic as you, unexpected roadblocks and many more.

It's important to remember that while your cause is important, your wellbeing comes first. If you feel the stress starting to build, take a moment to reflect and think about what you can do to get things back on track. Talking things through will also help. Chatting to friends and family is a good start, and if you're volunteering with an organisation you should talk to your coordinator to see if there's anything they can do to help. Services such as the Kids Help Line, ReachOut.com and Lifeline are also available if things get too much. It's okay to take a step back from your participation and put yourself first. 

Awards and recognition

Across the community, there are lots of people who want to celebrate the great contributions community members make. There are lots of different awards programs out there to recognise innovative projects, outstanding contributions and inspiring individuals. If you're particularly proud of something you've created, a program you've volunteered on, or someone you've worked with who went above and beyond, consider nominating them for an award. Being nominated is a great honour and is a way to celebrate the great things you've achieved.

The Department of Local Government and Communities supports a number of awards programs, including the WA Youth Awards and WA Volunteer of the Year Awards. The Department also provides certificates for volunteers to be given out on Thank a Volunteer Day. Local governments also have local awards programs, and some are part of the Premier's Australia Day Active Citizenship Awards program. 

Example: Resume

Coordinator, Youth Against Bullying (voluntary role)

2013–Present

I founded the Youth Against Bullying campaign in 2013 to raise awareness of bullying in our community. Through this I have:

  • managed a team of five other young people to run the campaign
  • organised a successful awareness day at a local school for the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence
  • managed a Facebook page and other social media to promote the campaign
  • been interviewed and profiled in the local newspaper to raise awareness
  • written letters and had meetings with local Members of Parliament.

My team received very positive feedback on our event for the National Day of Action and I received letters of thanks from the school Principal and the local Member of Parliament.

For more information, please contact:

Department of Local Government and Communities
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, Perth WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, Perth WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall: 1800 620 511 (Country only)
Email: info@dlgc.wa.gov.au  Website: www.dlgc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Tel: 13 14 50