Operationalising children's participation: competing understandings of the policy to practice 'gap'

Samia Michail*, Kelly Baird, Tobia Fattore, Rebekah Grace

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


There is widespread discourse and policy on children's participation in decision-making. This is not matched with an equal level of implementation in practice. This qualitative research explores the policy to practice gap with senior decision makers in the child protection system in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Their reflections on the challenges associated with translating the participation principles into practice are deconstructed to understand the complex and overlapping ways in which participation is perceived. The research data indicate there are competing understandings of participation at play, depending on the actor, their role and organisation. This paper suggests that genuine participation in practice relies on bridging the epistemic differences and interests of different stakeholder groups who are all critical to achieving children's participation in service decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1576-1595
Number of pages20
JournalChildren and Society
Issue number5
Early online date28 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • children
  • participation
  • policy
  • practice
  • rights
  • voice


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