South Australia’s Commission for Children and Young People has released a new report titled Reflections on COVID-19 that reflects on the experience of more than 300 young people from diverse backgrounds throughout March, April and May 2020  to hear their thoughts, ideas and concerns regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their lives, now and into the future, as well as their appetite for innovation, adaptation and change.

More than anything, young South Australians hope the global pandemic experience will change the way things are done in our state. Although they fear a business as usual approach may prevail, they’re hopeful we will take this moment to look with fresh eyes at the ways in which we plan, create and sustain our economy and society, so that it is more grounded in kindness, fairness, listening and trust, values they hold high.

They also expressed a strong desire that lessons learned through COVID-19 be applied to other critical issues such as climate change, inequality, racism and discrimination. Having witnessed firsthand how effective it can be when leaders and decision-makers listen, trust and act upon the advice of experts and professionals to bring about rapid and important change, they want more of this to follow.

“In this defining moment, I see a significant opportunity for change; one that involves young people’s ideas and aspirations in plans for our post-COVID-19 response, and allows them to take their place as valued citizens, contributing in meaningful ways to the creation of a better future than the one previously envisaged.”

Helen Connolly, South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People

Gathered during a period that for many is likely to be one of the most formative experiences of their lives, their reflections demonstrate how the experience redefined their outlook and priorities as they coped with interruptions to travel and study plans, loss of jobs and incomes, social distancing and isolation constraints, and learning via digital interfaces that relied upon state-of-the-art access to technology. Neither was there live music, social gatherings, sport or recreational activities to attend, as most of the activities and events which might have previously filled-up a young person’s calendar were either postponed or cancelled.

Gathering their collective stories through various consultations and conversations, and via a journaling project which they embraced with great enthusiasm, the Commissioner’s report helps us better understand the unique experiences young people had in relation to COVID-19 as told to her in their own words.

Download your copy of Reflections on COVID-19 here.

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