Children and Youth
Councils have a responsibility to promote, provide and plan for the needs of children according to The Council’s Charter contained in the NSW Local Government Act (1993).
The role of local government
Councils have a history of providing for the needs of children. For example, the Local Government Act (1919) was amended in 1937 to allow for councils to subsidise kindergartens and nurseries.
Council facilities and services
Today, children and young people benefit from a variety of council facilities and services including parks and playgrounds, libraries, community halls, youth centres, playing fields, skate parks, leisure centres, entertainment centres, art galleries, patrolled beaches, and festivals and events. Particularly in some regional and rural areas, councils are the only providers of these services.
Early childhood education and care
Councils are heavily involved in enabling the provision of early childhood education and care (including through land use planning and leasing of council premises). Councils in NSW are also direct providers of long day care, family day care, occasional care, preschools, playgroups, vacation care and outside-of-school-hours care.
Councils recognise that young people have needs for their own specific local facilities, services and programs. Local government currently makes a significant investment in the local youth services through running youth programs, providing buildings for youth groups to meet, and through local youth advisory councils. Youth councils enable young people who work, live or study in a particular local government area to influence council policies and decisions towards young people.
Significantly, councils involve young people in the planning and management of activities and events for Youth Week, which occurs in April each year. In 2016, 120 councils in NSW registered Youth Week events, and each year the NSW Minister responsible for youth affairs provides awards to councils which conduct the best Youth Week programs.
Plans and policies
To address the needs of families, children and young people, councils across NSW commonly employ policy and development staff. Councils are also a key partner in connecting with other local agencies to ensure the provision of community development services which benefit children and young people.
Councils therefore often have specific plans and policies to address the needs of children and young people and to incorporate the needs of children and young people into the council’s Community Strategic Plan.
The above logo has been developed by the Local Government Children’s Services Managers’ Network for use by council-run children’s services in NSW.
The role of LGNSW
LGNSW advocates for local government children and youth services to ensure legislation and funding enables councils to continue to support these essential services.
The planning and regulation of children and youth services is a complex policy area. In NSW, the provision of children and youth services is a shared responsibility between the three levels of government, with multiple stakeholders and government agencies involved including the:
- Department of Education and Training (Federal)
- Early Childhood Education and Care Directorate, through the Department of Education (NSW)
- Office of the Children’s Guardian (NSW)
- Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (NSW)
- Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.
LGNSW engages with the local government children and youth sector through coordination of an email network to feed information and advice between the relevant council staff and the LGNSW policy team. Please contact Elizabeth Robertson to express interest in joining the network.
LGNSW is also member of the Local Government Children’s Services Manager’s network and the Local Government Youth Development Network hosted by Youth Action.
- Local Government NSW response to NSW Family and Community Services Targeted Earlier Intervention Programs (PDF, 155KB)