The NI Commissioner meets children and young people regularly and they are generally concerned about a variety of issues affecting their lives and opportunities including their education; their health - especially their mental health; their communities and the impact of poverty. They are keen to have their particular views and opinions heard and to engage directly with key decision makers whenever possible.
It is concerning that matters directly affecting children and young people are not always being discussed with them as a matter of course, at least not in a meaningful way. There are some wonderful examples of engaging with children and young people but we also know of many examples of tokenistic consultations, often planned as an afterthought.
Participation and engagement with children and young people must be viewed as an essential and indeed positive opportunity to inform legislation, strategies, policies and services which ensure the promotion of the rights of all children and young people in Northern Ireland.
This advice in accordance with Article 8 (5)(b) of the legislation which states that:
The Commissioner may provide advice or information on any matter concerning the rights or best interests of children and young persons
This advice has been developed in partnership with the NICCY Youth Panel and is one way in which the Office can support public bodies to fulfil their UNCRC and S75 (of the NI Act, 1998) participation obligations in a consistent way.