Encourage young people’s ownership

Encourage young people’s ownership

Encourage young people’s ownership

LDATs can encourage young people’s ownership of the peer support activities by collaborating and co-designing with young people.

What is co-design?

Co-design is a process which involves people in the decisions that will have an impact on them. Co-design is based on the fundamental beliefs that everyone should have the right to participate in the decisions that impact on their life, and everyone has valuable knowledge to contribute.

Co-design is a participatory tool for problem-solving that brings those with technical expertise and lived experience together, on equal ground, to design solutions.

Principles of co-design

  • Experience - co-design is a process and a mindset not an event.
  • Equality - co-design is about bringing those with lived experience and technical experience together, on equal footing.
  • Empathy - the more you connect with the problem, the more innovative and effective your solutions will be.
  • Embrace ambiguity - get comfortable with the uncomfortable, unknown nature of co-design. Trust in the process.
  • Experiment - approach your solutions like experiments, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’re not prepared to innovate. Test, learn and iterate.32

Opportunities for co-design

There are opportunities to work with young people and apply the principles and methods of co-design throughout the whole program planning, delivery and evaluation process, as outlined below.

Program design and planning

Young people can:

  • Provide perspectives on their knowledge, attitudes, values and behaviour to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harms
  • Generate, test and refine ideas
  • Help to define the scope of peer support activities.

Program delivery

Young people can:

  • Design peer support activities
  • Sit on peer supporter interview panels
  • Be involved in delivery of peer supporter training.

Program evaluation

Young people can:

  • Assist in identifying what should be monitored and measured
  • Inform continuous improvement in delivery of peer support activities by helping to review data and identify ways that activities can be improved upon
  • Contribute to evaluation during its design, interpreting data, making recommendations and helping to communicate the findings in an accessible way.


Learn: Importance of co-design

Importance of co-design

Supporting young people to actively participate in co-design

These principles of participation can help LDATs to think through how they can support young people to actively participate in the co-design of peer support activities.

Have clear expectations

  • Have a clear purpose and scope for your co-design process. What are the key questions/problems you want to address? How much time and money is available for design and implementation?
  • Communicate what can and cannot be changed from the outset to ensure unrealistic expectations are not created.
  • Make sure young people are aware of the expectations being set of them.

Be flexible

  • Offer young people opportunities to participate that require varying levels of commitment. There are opportunities for young people to be involved in co-design throughout the program design, delivery and evaluation cycle.
  • Consider using a mix of face-to-face and online methods (e.g. co-design workshops, focus groups, online surveys and webchats).
  • Ensure that activity times and locations are accessible to young people (e.g. not during school or office hours, near public transport).
  • In more remote areas, online methods may be helpful but also consider travelling to where the young people are rather than expecting them to travel to you.
  • Be willing to change your approach based on learning from the design process.

Involve more than one young person

  • No one young person or group of young people can ever represent all young people’s views, but it is important to make your co-design process as inclusive as possible.
  • Involve multiple young people, as it may not be feasible for a single person to be involved throughout the entire process.
  • Use a variety of recruitment strategies. Youth Advisory Groups (YAGs) or reference groups can be helpful but also consider strategies like social media or approaching other organisations who can help you reach other young people.

Value experience and skills

  • Include young people with diverse experiences and backgrounds, e.g. people with lived experience of mental ill-health, experience of supporting others with mental ill-health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, LGBTIQA+, experience of juvenile justice or those disengaged from school or work.
  • Identify which experiences and backgrounds are not represented. Consider reaching out to other organisations who may be able to help.
  • Recognise individual skills and interests of the young people involved and try to draw on and build on them. Young people’s involvement should go beyond sharing their experiences, they should also have the opportunity to generate and test ideas.

Ensure there is mutual benefit

  • Co-design provides a great opportunity for professionals and young people to learn from each other.
  • Before co-design begins, consider what skills and knowledge young people may require to meaningfully participate and what opportunities you can provide to develop them, e.g. how to review tenders or facilitation skills.
  • Provide value, give the young people an opportunity to make a difference and learn something about themselves

Reimburse appropriately

  • Ensure young people’s costs are covered, e.g. travel, meal expenses, out-of-pocket expenses.

Support involvement

  • Ask young people what they need to be able to attend and consider what practical support you can offer.
  • Different young people will require different supports and considerations (e.g. transport, accessibility needs, parental permission, provision of childcare, observing cultural norms, English literacy).
  • Avoid the use of jargon and keep language as simple and accessible as possible.
  • Ensure that staff are available to answer questions and provide support during activities.

Provide adequate resource

  • Effective co-design requires an investment of time and money, plan ahead for the involvement of young people.
  • Ensure that young people are provided with accessible materials.
  • Provide young people with the information and skills to contribute and participate.
  • If you're not sure whether you have the skills to co-design, consider partnering with an organisation with experience in co-design youth partnerships.

Give and receive feedback

  • Ensure that you communicate to young people what was achieved as a result of their involvement.
  • Ask young people about their co-design experience. Did they feel valued? What could be improved?

Avoid tokenism

  • Promote a safe and supportive culture that celebrates young people being genuine partners in decision-making. Professionals have to be prepared to trust the decisions of young people and young people have to be able to trust the advice of professionals.
  • Do not ask young people to provide input when it is too late to make meaningful changes.
  • If you are only consulting with young people, do not call it co-design.

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