The NSW government is going right to the source to figure out what matters to young people.
A roundtable of 35 Illawarra students on Monday shared their views on issues that affect them as part of the Speak Up! state-wide consultation project hosted by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People.
Topics as far-ranging as the bravery of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, bullying in schools, and self-identity were discussed.
Penny Chadjinicolaou, 15, from Smith's Hill High School, said it was great for young people to be able to share their opinions without being judged or pressured.
She thought one of the most pressing issues for her peers was bullying of people who didn't "fit in".
"There's a lot of pressure on young people to behave and dress a certain way, and those who don't necessarily fit in with that sort of thing or choose not to conform to it can get a hard time from those who do," she said.
"More tolerance would be nice, it would be great if people could be accepted for who they were, rather than what they were expected to be."
Two other roundtables have been held, including one with students in Cabramatta and another with youth-focused non-government organisations at State Parliament.
The Wollongong roundtable was the final one before a report on the key issues discussed is prepared for the state government.
Lubna Sherieff, 15, from Macquarie Fields High School, is one of two youth ambassadors who have attended all three events.
She said bullying, access to education and how schools were being run came up at each of the roundtables.
She thought it was important students had their say now in order to shape the future they inherited in the coming years.
Director of Policy and Research at the Commission for Children and Young People Gregor Macfie said policies could only be improved by speaking with the people affected.
"We know these young people have a depth of knowledge and experience that can feed into policies and laws, and those policies and laws are going to be a lot better if we listen to them and find out what the issues are."