The National Youth Commission concept is modelled on a rigorous official inquiry into all aspects of youth transitions but without the Government in control of the process or the outcomes. A foundational principle is no government funding to ensure complete independence. A second principle is bipartisanship, reaching out to all interested stakeholders and considering all ideas and proposals without ideological or political prejudice.
The Commissioners, who will be people with salient public or professional profiles, and the expertise to perform their role as Commissioners. They will be all Australians prominent in their various fields of expertise and activity, even if not personalities widely known in the media.
The model of the National Youth Commission is designed to proactively push policy development forward by independently constructing a policy agenda and a program of policy recommendations. The post-modern thrust of the concept is to appropriate the ‘authority’ of a official inquiry and to proceed independently by adopting all the standards of rigour found in the best official inquiries, in particular using the Burdekin Inquiry of 1989 into youth homelessness as a reference point. A serious inquiry will quickly be treated as a serious inquiry by all stakeholders – ‘If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences’. (W. I. Thomas). In this way we achieve pro-activity rather than reactivity.
As a model for change and innovation the National Youth Commission can be thought of as having a ‘head’ – the Inquiry and the report, a ‘heart’ – the documentary film broadcast to a wide audience to move people and a ‘mouth’ – or the capacity to communicate to decision-makers and use the media effectively to produce policy change, in the way that the National Youth Commission into Youth Homelessness managed to do in 2008.