Dr. Bruce Hurst

Bruce is an education consultant, and researcher and lecturer at the University of Melbourne. He has worked for 25 years in and with Outside School Hours Care programs, and is one of the few academic researchers who specialises in these important settings for school-age children. Bruce’s research has provided new ways of understanding the experiences of older primary children in Outside School Hours Care. He has a deep commitment to children’s rights to speak, be heard and have excellence in their play and leisure settings.

His work draws on participatory research methods, and postmodern theories of power and knowledge to provoke childhood professionals to re-think how they think about, and work with children.

Bruce presents in a way that makes complex ideas accessible. In 2014, he won the Freda Cohen Prize for his research work. Bruce is the current Deputy Chair of the Community Child Care Association.

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Childhood Summit 2019 Keynote - Community -

What do we mean by ‘voice’? Rethinking what it means to collaborate with children about their play spaces.


Day 1 Morning - Keynote

Dr. Bruce Hurst has some questions for you.


Watch the video and share your ideas in a comment section below:


What do we mean by ‘voice’? Rethinking what it means to collaborate with children about their play spaces.

Keynote Synopsis for the Childhood Summit 2019 Event 

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) invites adults to see children as individuals with the right to express their ideas about matters that affect them and have those ideas taken seriously. But how good are adults at listening to children? Whilst there are some spaces in Australian society where adults are accustomed to seeking children’s views, there are others like urban planning, where adult voices dominate. But what does it mean to enact children’s participation rights and what does it look like? Is it simply a case of asking children what they want from their play spaces and neighbourhoods or is it a more complex task? 

This presentation will examine children’s participation in decision-making from a number of perspectives. Bruce will endeavour to disrupt the dominant cultural and historical ideas that enable us to see children as innocent and immature, rather than citizens with valuable points of view. He will also present contemporary research on children’s participation rights, and findings from a recent research project that sought the voices of primary-aged children on what they want from their after school leisure spaces. In the project, children were given freedom to express their views in ways that were comfortable to them and respected their rights to play. The project also demonstrated the importance of analysing children’s views to go beyond just listening or seeking their ‘voices’. By engaging more deeply with what children had to say the research produced richer knowledge about what is important to them during leisure and play.

This session presents valuable knowledge for all professionals whose work has implications for children, their play and access to the outdoors.