Just Ask the Children

About the Project

Research Topic & Roadmap

The right for children to freely express their views and opinion is one of the four underlying and fundamental principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Furthermore, it is enshrined in the Austrian Federal Constitutional Law on the Rights of Children. Establishing the participation of children and young people structurally is also a goal of the Vienna Children and Youth Strategy 2020 – 2025. Therefore, the Children’s and Youth Ombuds-Office (KIJA), as an ombuds office and independent body of the City of Vienna, is therefore setting out to exemplify participation and involvement itself by developing a practical participation format for the target group together with children and young people.

The goal of the KIJA is to achieve systematically involvement of children and young people in their work and to delegate decision-making powers to them. How this will be done through a participatory workshop series as part of an eighteen-month project from January 2024 to June 2025. The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights (LBI-GMR) will provide scientific support for the project, evaluate it, and together with the project partners, develop a toolbox to highlight and make the results accessible and usable for other city departments. The KIJA cooperates with other project partners, including WIENXTRA, the Human Rights Space, the City Department 13 (Education and Youth) and a competence center of the City Department 18 (Urban Development and Planning).

The project is aimed at:

  • Interested children and young people who are not only given space and opportunity to articulate their wishes and needs but who are also given real participation and decision-making powers
  • The KIJA as an organization that wants to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of its work
  • Clients of the KIJA who benefit from an improved and adapted range of services
  • Employees of the KIJA who can develop into pioneers of lived child participation
  • Other City of Vienna departments that will receive a scientifically evaluated toolbox to help them to implement child participation in their work processes

Research Focus and Methods

The project aims in particular to establish a sustainable participation format for children and young people up to 21 years old and thereby promote their understanding of democracy. The project process is also intended to strengthen partnership-based cooperation between children and young people, the City of Vienna and civil society and academic stakeholders. In the first phase of the project, the recruited children and young people are familiarized with children’s rights and the work of KIJA in 15 empowerment workshops to lay the foundations for the subsequent methods-instrument development workshops. During this second workshop series, children and young people have space to discuss and develop creative ideas and visions. Based on those ideas, the children and project partners conceptualize participation formats together. In the third phase of the project, children, young people and the KIJA will test the methods and instruments developed earlier to make them compatible for long-term integration. At the end of the project, three feedback workshops will be held, along with a closing event including the presentation of results and the toolbox, and finally the completion of the accompanying study by the LBI-GMR team.

Project Data