Every year Commissioner Connolly asks SA ‘tweens’ a series of open-ended questions about what matters to them most at this time in their lives. Questions include what they would like grownups to know about their lives, what they’re good at, what they care about, and what they think would make the world a better place.
In 2021, a total of 13,868 (representing approximately 33% of all SA children in this age-group) completed a Student Voice postcard. The responses came from 289 Catholic, Independent, Government, Special Education Units, and Aboriginal schools across the Greater Adelaide Region, as well as from regional, rural, and remote communities throughout South Australia.
Children told their Commissioner about the importance of family and friends, as well as how much pride they take in being kind and caring and in looking after people, the environment, and animals. They also told her they enjoy making people laugh, and that they wanted adults to know they ‘have their back’ – that whilst it may not always be obvious, they love and appreciate all that adults do for them.
Most of the postcards received in 2021 came from children born since 2010. This new generation, sometimes referred to as Generation Alpha, are distinguished by the fact that they have grown up with access to Wi-Fi and the Internet for their whole lives. Consequently, they are very socially connected and consume much more visual information than previous generations.
Their world – just like that of the adults around them – has become increasingly complex with much less down time. They consider themselves to be smarter than adults think they are and want to be given more credit for what they know. Although they acknowledge they still have much to learn, they don’t want to be overlooked or not listened to. They also want to be involved in decision-making at the family, school, and community levels, and to have their ideas heard and acted upon.
Regardless of where they live, South Australian children in this age group were clear that when adults listen to their unique imaginations, creative perspectives, and big ideas, this improves their own wellbeing, self-confidence, and trust in adults – Helen Connolly, Commissioner for Children and Young People
They’re particularly concerned about the environment and extremely tired of the pandemic. They would like to change a lot about their schools and do education differently, with more opportunities to learn life skills such as cooking and financial literacy.
They also want adults to realise that being a child today is vastly different from when they were children. They want adults to value equality, inclusiveness, and kindness in the same way they do, and to celebrate diverse abilities, learning styles, languages, cultures, and gender identities.
The 2022 Student Voice Postcard packs are being distributed to all Government, Catholic and Independent primary and combined South Australia schools from today.
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