This Handbook provides guidance to Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures on how to increase public engagement and outreach, to ensure the public get a greater say in how they are governed.
Youth engagement is central to our values. Our work includes the Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP), the development of educational resources and outreach programmes. These programmes aim to increase awareness of the important work done by the CPA in promoting democratic governance across the Commonwealth and to connect Parliamentarians with young people in schools, colleges and universities to inspire the next generation of young leaders.
This page contains information about:
- Engagement, Education and Outreach for Parliaments
- Commonwealth Youth Parliament
- CPA Roadshows: School and College Visit Programme
- Commonwealth Day: Youth Pack
- Teachers’ Resource Pack: Commonwealth, Parliament and Democracy
Engagement, Education and Outreach for Parliaments
If Parliaments are ever going to succeed in having ‘effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels’ and ensure decision-making is ‘responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative’ (UN SDG 16), then they must engage, listen, educate and share information with their citizens and public.
The Engagement, Education and Outreach Handbook: Creating Open, Accountable and Transparent Institutions has been developed for the benefit of the CPA’s 180 Parliaments and Legislatures and is designed to be a practical resource to strengthen their public engagement and outreach focus.
The Handbook has been developed with the support and cooperation of national and subnational Legislatures across the Commonwealth and covers a broad spectrum of topics including:
- how to develop youth engagement activities
- how to target the right audiences; how to utilise social media
- how to ensure public input into committee inquiries
- how to effectively monitor and evaluate outreach and engagement activities to ensure maximum impact.
The CPA Handbook is filled with tips, case studies, templates, checklists and many other useful and accessible tools and resources which Parliaments can quickly extract and utilise for their own practical use. The Handbook is designed for busy Parliamentarians, Clerks and parliamentary officials to access and refer to when needed.
Download the Handbook
Commonwealth Youth Parliament
The Commonwealth Youth Parliament is the flagship programme of the CPA's youth engagement strategy. Hosting of the Youth Parliament rotates alphabetically through the Regions of the Commonwealth. Each CYP has a theme that it will focus on bringing together approximately 50 young people from across the Commonwealth. The programme also involves young Members of Parliament from across the Commonwealth who participate as mentors.
The programme is aimed at young people aged 18 to 29 who gain experience being a young Parliamentarian. Participants experience life in the parliamentary spotlight and gain practical experience of the parliamentary system whilst learning how the next generation would approach parliamentary politics. Formal parliamentary practice adapted from several Commonwealth countries is followed and the proceedings are observed under the watchful eyes of experienced parliamentary officials. The agenda includes debates, votes on Bills and government motions.
Caption: Official Mace of the Commonwealth Youth Parliament
Our Former CYP Delegates
To mark the 10th Commonwealth Youth Parliament, the CPA Headquarters Secretariat undertook an evaluation review of all previous youth participants to identify where they are now in terms of their career and whether involvement in Commonwealth Youth Parliaments led to worthwhile outcomes.
As of 2020, a total of 7 participants went on to become Parliamentarians. It is also worth noting that a further 65% of participants are now employed as public servants within their respective jurisdictions.
Senator Sam Mézec, Jersey
Stacy Bragger MLA, Falkland Islands
The Hon. Juan Watterson, SHK, Isle of Man
Hon. Michelle Slack, Nevis
CYP and the Commonwealth
Many CYP delegates remain actively engaged in national, regional and Commonwealth policy discussions after they participate in the programme. Below is a selection of articles by or about our former delegates.
■ Danica Loulie-Wijtenburg (CYP 2022) | 20-year-old makes history as Parliament's first Youth Clerk | 1 News NZ
■ David Salmon (Virtual CYP 2020) | Why study the Commonwealth in the 21st Century? | Commonwealth Foundation
■ Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain (Virtual CYP 2020) | Transport around the Commonwealth | Rail Staff UK
■ Mele Fonua (CYP 2019) | Empowering Youth Parliamentarians | The Parliamentarian
■ Josiah Tualamali'i (CYP 2018) | 'Dawn Raids' petition handed to Parliament | RNZ News
■ Khadijah Khatun (CYP 2018) | Inclusive Parliaments for Inclusive Societies | The Parliamentarian
■ Elise Delpiano (CYP 2016) | Increasing women's parliamentary representation in Australia and New Zealand | The Parliamentarian
■ Elizabeth Kite (CYP 2016) | Meet 5 Pacific Women Activists Who Are Changing the World in 2020 | Global Citizen
Above: Josiah Tualamali'i (left, CYP 2018) was a guest on Parliamentary Conversations in the Commonwealth, a podcast by the CPA, for our episode on 'Indigenous Peoples and Political Participation'
Previous Commonwealth Youth Parliaments
2 young people from 31 Commonwealth jurisdictions* took part in a three-day mock Parliament organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). The 11th Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP), hosted by the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago at The Red House, Port-of-Spain, took place from 21 to 23 November 2022.
Participants aged 18 to 29 acted as Members of the Parliament of Kairi and Chaconia, a fictional island nation of one million citizens. They represented two mock political parties, forming a government and opposition.
Young citizens from across the Commonwealth participated in a week-long Commonwealth Youth Parliament which took place from 18-22 October 2021 and was held virtually. The virtual format allowed young people from all 9 CPA regions to connect across a remarkable 17 time zones. In total, 62 delegates representing 40 different Commonwealth jurisdictions participated in a range of parliamentary activities.
Young citizens from across the Commonwealth participated in a week-long Commonwealth Youth Parliament which took place from 14-18 December 2020 and was held virtually for the first time. The virtual format allowed young people from all 9 CPA regions to connect across a remarkable 17 time zones. In total, 59 delegates representing 32 different Commonwealth Parliaments participated in a range of parliamentary activities.
The 10th CYP was opened by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Om Birla, MP and the Chairperson of the CPA, Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, MP. The event was attended by 47 young people from 13 countries across the Commonwealth. The 4 days of the CYP provided a key development opportunity for young people from the Commonwealth with ambitions of public office and introduced these potential young Parliamentarians to the fundamentals behind the processes of Parliament. Participants experienced Parliament in a real-life situation in the Legislative Assembly of Delhi’s chamber. The programme also included taking part in parliamentary procedures, debating legislation and motions in relation to the fictional ‘Commonwealthland’.
The 10th Commonwealth Youth Parliament gave participants a pan-Commonwealth experience and a hugely valuable networking opportunity with current young Members of Parliament from the Commonwealth who acted as mentors – Hon. Fasiha Hassan, MPL from the Gauteng Provincial Legislature in South Africa who also acted as the Speaker of the 10th CYP and Hon. Travis Robinson, MP from The Bahamas Parliament.
The 10th Commonwealth Youth Parliament opening ceremony saw welcome addresses by Shri Ram Niwas Goel, the Speaker of the Delhi Assembly; Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi; Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, MP, Chairperson of the CPA International Executive Committee and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Cameroon; and the chief guest: Shri Om Birla, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Parliament of India.
The 9th CYP was hosted by the Jersey States Assembly in St Helier, Jersey. The 49 delegates at the 9th CYP came from fifteen countries, ranging from the largest (India) to the smallest (Niue), and from 35 CPA Branches across 8 CPA Regions. The five days of the CYP provided a key development opportunity for young people from the Commonwealth with ambitions of public office and introduced these potential young Parliamentarians to the fundamentals behind the processes of Parliament.
The CYP gave participants a Pan-Commonwealth experience and a hugely valuable networking opportunity including with current young Members of Parliament from the Commonwealth - Hon. Temard Butterfield, MHA (Turks and Caicos); Deputy Sam Mezec (Jersey); Hon. Jermaine Figueria, MP (Guyana); Hon. John Paul Mwirigi, MP (Kenya) - who acted as mentors throughout the week.
In a notable departure from previous years, the 9th CYP, in recognition of the non-party system in the States Assembly in Jersey, saw youth participants acting as the Government, Opposition and independents sitting together, allowing for a wider sharing of opinions and engagement in debates. Participants experienced parliament in a real-life situation in the legislative chamber. The programme also included taking part in parliamentary procedures, debating legislation and motions in relation to the fictional ‘Commonwealthland’.
Many of the sessions were presided over by CPA Jersey Chairperson, Connetable Len Norman from the States Assembly of Jersey and the States Assembly staff ensured the smooth running of parliamentary procedures. The CYP delegates also faced the media in a ‘mock’ press conference with questions from local journalists including Andy Sibcy of the Jersey Evening Post and Clare Burton from ITV Channel Islands News. Delegates at the CYP9 were entertained at a dinner hosted by Highlands College, a leading Further Education College in Jersey, with chef and hospitality students and lecturers providing the excellent food and service.
The 8th CYP was hosted by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. In a colourful opening ceremony in the Legislative Chamber at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, over 60 young participants representing CPA Branches in eight of the nine CPA Regions – Africa; Asia; Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean; Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic; Canada; India; Pacific – came together for the start of a week long programme of events.
The 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP8) was opened by Mr. Akbar Khan, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and saw addresses by Hon. Linda Reid MLA, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and Mr Craig James, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The opening ceremony also featured a blessing from Elder Mary Ann Thomas and a poetry reading from Zoe Duhaime.
The 7th CYP was hosted by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory in Darwin, Australia. This CYP brought together delegates from Australia, Canada, India, Asia, the Pacific, Africa, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom to experience parliamentary life in a real-life situation in the parliamentary chamber which included taking part in parliamentary procedures as party representatives or independents, debating legislation and motions, holding a committee of inquiry and facing the press in a media conference.
Focused on the theme Deepening the Commonwealth’s Commitment to Democracy and Youth Development, the 7th CYP saw the participation of over 50 young people from across the Commonwealth. The first session of the Commonwealth Youth Parliament was opened by the Administrator of the Northern Territory of Australia, His Honour Hon. John Hardy OAM. The Young Parliamentarians were welcomed to the 7th CYP by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Acting Secretary General and Director of Finance & Administration, Mr Joe Omorodion and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory, Hon. Kezia Purick MLA.
Speaker Purick said: "This is an exciting time for young people coming from all over the Commonwealth who will be using the parliamentary chamber for their debates and will have the privilege of CYP7 being opened by his Honour the Administrator of the Northern Territory. We will be showing the world what our parliament has to offer and the public galleries are open to anyone who would like to come and watch. We are very pleased to be welcoming the best from around the Commonwealth of Nations to take part in this event in Darwin and wish them well in their endeavours."
The 6th CYP was co-hosted by the CPA and the Legislative Assembly of Mmabatho, Northwest Province, South Africa. It was attended by over 50 young people from 7 of the 9 Regions of the CPA. The CYP took place between the 2-8 November 2014.
- 5th CYP, Westminster, United Kingdom, 4-7 December 2012
- 4th CYP, Westminster, United Kingdom, 6-10 September 2011
- 3rd CYP, Brisbane, Australia, 19-23 April 2005
- 2nd CYP, Manchester, United Kingdom, 22-24 November 2000
- 1st CYP, Manchester, United Kingdom, 1997
With the Commonwealth’s 56 member countries having a combined population of more than 2.6 billion, of which more than 60% are under 30 years of age, the CPA launched the Roadshows to strengthen its outreach to the Commonwealth’s young people. The CPA Roadshows seek to increase awareness of the CPA amongst schools, colleges and universities to inspire the next generation of Parliamentarians.
The Roadshows also increase awareness of the important work done by the CPA in promoting democratic governance across the Commonwealth and to connect Parliamentarians with their young people in schools, colleges and universities to inspire the next generation of young leaders.
The CPA encourages its Branches and Regions to host CPA Roadshows and works with international organisations to partner on the initiative.
Download the CPA Roadshow Pack below:
Gibraltar Branch Roadshow in January 2020
The Commonwealth Day Youth Engagement Pack was first launched in 2020 to support parliamentary outreach activities on Commonwealth Day. It was updated in 2021 with ideas and resources that provide options for virtual activities in recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on in-person events.
The pack features:
■ A handbook outlining potential activities for Commonwealth Day
■ A series of tools to use on Commonwealth Day, such as a quiz, factsheet and activity cards
■ A leaflet with further information on this year’s Commonwealth Day theme
Download the Pack
Download our Youth Engagement Pack ahead of Commonwealth Day to help kickstart your youth engagement activities on the day.
Commonwealth Day is celebrated annually on the second Monday of March. Public engagement is crucial in connecting, innovating and transforming social networks and cultures of all societies as it encourages an informed and involved citizenry which is crucial for a functioning democracy.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jamaica, Hon. Pearnel Charles, Sr visiting pupils at Kingston School in 2020.
Teachers’ Resource Pack
The CPA published a new Teachers’ Resource Pack on the Commonwealth, Parliament and Democracy in collaboration with the British Council and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The resource was focused on students aged between 7 and 14 and the materials are designed for teachers to help provide factual information and exciting cross-curricular activities for students to learn and think critically about the Commonwealth, parliament and democracy more broadly.