On 24 October 2018, Dandenong’s Communities for Children program partnered with City of Greater Dandenong to help facilitate their 3rd Annual Children’s Forum at Springvale Town Hall.

The forum was attended by 60 children aged 9 -12 years from 11 local primary schools who contributed their ideas and feedback to support strategic planning for the implementation and delivery of Council programs across the child and family friendly city and municipality.

The aim of the forum was to provide a platform for children to engage in a consultative and creative process, to express their opinions about the city they live in and their priorities and ideas for better community.

A variety of workshops and sessions provided children with creative opportunities to provide input into existing Dandenong initiatives.

In addition to this, Polygot Theatre’s Voice Lab was engaged to ensure we were providing a great space and environment for children to feel comfortable to share their thoughts and opinions in a safe, supported way.

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Polygot’s Voice Lab is a creative installation module for collecting the thoughts and opinions of children. Children are invited one at a time into a beautifully designed, serene igloo. In this space they have a conversation with Voice Lab – a computer generated voice driven by a concealed live performer who asks questions, encourages opinion and regards the child as the expert.

Voice Lab encourages reflective thought and the articulation of opinions and feelings. The children were asked to reflect on ideas and answer questions on how we could make Dandenong an even better place for children to live, and how can we make children’s voices heard, valued and celebrated more often.

The key themes identified and highlighted by the children included: Safety, Helping Others, Community, Belonging/Diversity, Child Friendly City and Education.

Myfanwy Evans, Program Manager of Dandenong Communities for Children program said: “This was a very diverse group with over 7 languages spoken in the first few sessions alone! The children really valued the opportunity to have their opinions and voices heard. Some kids seemed nervous going in, unsure of what was going to happen. But emerged very enthusiastic and beaming! The forum really helped us, as service providers, reflect on some of the incredibly insightful messages we heard and remind us of how much we can learn from really listening to children.”

Here is some of what the children had to say:

'Adults’ vocal chords are very strong - they need to learn to control them'
‘If you don't feel safe at home then you don't feel safe anywhere else'
‘I'm a kid, mistakes happen'
‘Understand where people come from, like learn about what’s in Dandenong, because Dandenong is different from every single suburb
‘When I’m at home I mostly speak English but I also speak a Chinese dialect called Teochow and Mandarin’’
‘I would add a few big playgrounds where children are actually interested, not just like a boring slide and all that’
‘Pick up rubbish. I see a lot of rubbish on the floor.

Hear what the children had to say for themselves

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