Youth voice and mentoring

Youth action approach to achieving Education for Sustainability

 Children are citizens of today and bearers of human right. They are social actors, agents in their own lives, with the right among others to be active participants in decisions that affect their lives. United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, 1989.

A youth action approach to environmental sustainability enables students to lead change in their school and community. NRM Education can assist with supporting staff and students to become actively involved in decision making, planning and taking action within the school and local community, whilst achieving environmental and educational outcomes linked to the Australian Curriculum.

Why is engaging students in school processes important?

  • Melbourne Declaration – Goal 2 for young Australians - ‘All students become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens’
  • benefits of engagement to a young person are many and varied but some key benefits include a sense of person and belonging, social inclusion, improved self-esteem and power over their own lives.
  • there are also numerous school and community benefits from student involvement.

How NRM Education can help

Engaged and empowered students can add new dimensions to school culture, policy and Site Environment Management Plans. NRM Education supports students to become involved in decision making, planning and taking action. These rich learning experiences help students become responsible citizens who are resilient and have the skills to recognise and solve local problems.

Student capacity-building programs include:

  • your NRM Education Officer can mentor your school’s student environment/youth action groups to develop plans and projects within the school. NRM Education also has a number of resources that can assist student groups to explore sustainability.
  • our Youth Environmental Leaders program involves student environment and youth voice groups in hands-on sustainability workshops, networking activities with other schools and lots of fun. NRM Education provides ongoing school support to embed the group’s project into the school culture and processes, and develop student leadership, public speaking and communication skills.
  • Youth Environment Council of South Australia is open to students in years 7 to 10. YEC members represent youth across SA and participate in leadership workshops, lead environmental projects in their communities, make recommendations to government, and share environmental initiatives and actions with other schools..For further info please visit the YEC website.

 A suggested youth action process

There are nine steps suggested by NRM Education for engaging young people in youth action and education for sustainability. NRM Education has a number of resources to assist with each step. We have provided information and resources for each step, you can download below.

1. Form a youth action group

2. Document current environmental activities, programs and projects

3. Choose an environmental theme to learn about and work on

4. Learn about the theme

5. Develop a school environment management plan for the theme

6. Develop and document actions

7. Take action to improve environmental sustainability

8. Evaluate and document outcomes and plan for next steps

9. Celebrate success

NRM Education supporting resources

  • Create a voice: your voice, our voice, youth voice  - a resource for students to start and maintain a youth environment group and take action at school. It includes tips, checklists, project planners, templates, activities and case studies.
  • Future visioning encourages you to concentrate on what you want a sustainable future to look like and helps you develop long-term goals and action plans.


DECD Resources

  • Involve Us, DECD
  • Children’s Voices – A principled framework for children and young people’s participation as valued citizens and learners, Pauline Harris and Harry Manatakis
  • Children as Citizens: Engaging with the child’s voice in educational settings, Pauline Harris and Harry Manatakis

Further Resources to assist Youth Voice

  • Connect Magazine: Supporting Student Participation - Connect is a publication for teachers, students, parents, administrators, researchers, consultants - anyone interested in active student participation. The bi-monthly journal is now available to download free of charge 
  • Guide to Student Voice, Adam Fletcher

For resources aimed at students, please see the “For Students” page.

Case studies

Be inspired by how other early learning sites and schools are incorporating youth voice.

Related links

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges