What is the Northern Ireland Youth Assembly?
The Northern Ireland Youth Assembly will include 90 young people aged 13 to 17 years old.The Northern Ireland Assembly makes laws about things like education, health, transport and the environment. Members of the Youth Assembly will have a unique opportunity to share their views and directly influence decisions taken by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The Youth Assembly members will discuss the issues that they think are important and put forward their ideas. All the members will meet together twice a year in Parliament Buildings in meetings chaired by the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. They will also meet more regularly in smaller groups (committees) throughout the year to discuss the issues and their views in greater detail. Those meetings may take place in Parliament Buildings or at other places in Northern Ireland.
Obviously, the nature of the meetings (virtual or face to face) will depend on the public health guidelines at the time.
Youth Assembly members will be appointed for a term of two years.
What is the role of a Youth Assembly Member?
Members of the Youth Assembly will:
- - have opportunities to make an impact on decisions made by Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLAs);
- - improve and enhance their leadership skills;
- - make new friends and share experiences with a diverse group of young people;
- - gain experience of team working and improve interpersonal skills;
- - develop skills and confidence in researching issues, communication and public speaking;
- - take an active role in meetings both face to face and online; and
- - enhance their CVs and improve your employability.
Youth Assembly members will be required to commit to two years of membership between June 2021 and June 2023. They will attend:
- - Two Plenary sessions (full meetings) in the Assembly Chamber per year;
- - Regular small committee meetings; and
- - Relevant training sessions.
Members will be required do some preparation for these meetings. The nature of our meetings (virtual or face to face) will depend on the public health guidelines at the time. Some meetings will be held on weekdays and it is likely that others may take place on evenings or weekends.
How were the current Members selected?
The method used to select members of the Youth Assembly was one of enhanced random selection. It was co-designed in conjunction with a panel of young people and the Youth Assembly Team. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland was consulted during the co-design phase. The process was approved by the Youth Assembly Advisory Group, which included a variety of youth organisations and individuals, including young people, before being agreed by the Assembly Commission.
Research was carried out to find out the youth demographic of Northern Ireland in the core age range (13 to 17). That information was then used to work out how many members should be selected to ensure that the membership would be fully representative of young people in that age range across a range of categories and also to ensure that members came from all parts of Northern Ireland. The categories, which included all the main Section 75 categories, were:
- - Experience of the care system
- - Racial Group
- - LGBTQ+
- - Disability
- - Young Carers
- - Free school meals eligibility
- - Religious belief
- - Male and Female
All the eligible applications received were anonymised and the enhanced random selection process was then conducted using a random number generator.
To ensure geographic spread, three members were randomly selected from each of the 18 Northern Ireland constituencies (56 places in total). A further 36 places were filled, also by random selection, to ensure that the number of members of the Youth Assembly would reflect the youth demographic of the categories listed above.
The outcome of the enhanced random selection process has been successful. All the listed categories have been proportionately filled and five young people have been selected from each constituency, which has ensured fully representative geographic spread.