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YMCA NSW Youth Parliament

What is Youth Parliament?

YMCA NSW Youth Parliament is a youth-led, A-political program that aims to empower young people to become advocates and change-makers in their communities. No matter what background or what path you have walked up until now, we want to welcome you to this opportunity of change!

Based on the key aims of leadership, advocacy and parliamentary education, Youth Parliament introduces young people to the workings of the NSW Parliamentary system and how they can be utilised to create affective change.

Youth Parliament aims to imitate the NSW Parliament as closely as possible, but with a flavour that only young people can bring. The program runs from both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council with participants working in a team of like-minded young people from across the state to produce well-researched Bills and Reports that reflect the youth voice on key areas they are passionate about.

Young people in the program are given the skills and support to develop their public speaking and communication skills and are given the opportunity to put these skills into action during our Youth Sitting Week. From beginners to experienced change-makers we are here to help and give you the platform to succeed. The Youth Sitting week marks the end of the program where our cohort of young people sit at Parliament House in their retrospective chamber for four days debating their Bills and Reports, as well as a number of other topical debates in front of Members of Parliament and key industry stakeholders.

Once the program ends, young people are encouraged to continue with their advocacy journey post-camp by engaging with organisations, business and key activists in their topic areas to try and influence change.

What is involved?

Youth Parliament is a 7 month long program which consists of two residential camps known as Training Camp and Residential Camp.

Training camp provides participants all the information, skills and knowledge they need for their time in the program. Participants will have the opportunity to meet their committee members for the first time and work face-to-face to start the foundation work for their bills and reports.

Residential camp is also known as Youth Sitting Week is the finale week of the program. Participants sit at NSW Parliament house for four of the seven days and will showcase the hard work and dedication they have invested over the previous seven months.

Participants are required to continually stay in contact with their committee members and committee advisor (a member of the organisational Taskforce) over the duration of the program.

Is Youth Parliament Right for me?

Youth Parliament is for young people in years 10-12 (or equivalent age).

We don’t require any specific skills or knowledge, all we ask is that you be passionate about your community, be willing to learn new things and be open to new experiences and meeting new people!

Youth Parliament is consistently working to ensure it has a safe, welcome and inclusive environment for young people from a diverse array of backgrounds. 

Who runs the program?

Youth Parliament is a youth-led program run by a team of around 30 volunteers known as the Taskforce. The Taskforce are all alumni of the program who are passionate about giving back to the YMCA for the opportunities they have been afforded throughout their participation. All our volunteer Taskforce members are put through a thorough training weekend prior to the program commencing, to ensure we are equipping and supporting our young leaders as best we can. All our volunteers are supported by qualified youth welfare and Youth & Government experienced staff. Our YMCA staff attend all camps from start to finish and support the culture and process of the program.

Being a youth-led program means that all of our content is young, fresh and relevant. Our Taskforce not only oversee the logistical and education elements of the program, but they use their experiences and knowledge to guide participants throughout their journey and empower them to unlock their inner leader and advocate! 

2016 Details

Training Camp

Date: 14th - 17th of April 2016
Location: Vision Valley Conference Centre, Arcadia

Residential Camp

Date: 10th - 16th of July (with a leadership training day on the 9th)
Location: Sydney Academy of Sport – Narrabeen 
Cost: Please call our staff for more information. 

How to get involved?

There are two avenues to get involved.

Nomination: Young people can seek nomination from the local Member of Parliament (for participation in the Legislative Assembly) or from any Member of the Legislative Council (for participation in the Legislative Council). If you are nominated for the program, it guarantees you a place in the program,

Open Application: Young people can opt to nominate themselves through an application form. Young people will be selected from the body of young people. The open application process does not guarantee you a place in the program.

Applications for the 2016 Applications for 2016 will open later in the year. In the mean time, you can fill out our EOI form and be the first to receive updates on applications.

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Check out Ruby’s story!

I started my journey with YMCA NSW Youth Parliament as a participant in 2009, which seems like a lifetime ago. I couldn’t possibly imagine my life’s journey without it.

I entered the program as a 15 year old in year 10 who only applied because my older brother was the Program Coordinator and encouraged me to apply. Not wanting to disappoint him I hesitantly applied with the hopes that it would break my bad habits of misbehaving in school and not taking myself or my future seriously.

After my first training camp I was overwhelmed, coming from a small country school I was never placed in a position where I didn’t know anyone and I felt that what I had to offer was nothing in comparison to my intelligent and passionate fellow participants. I held back and didn’t take advantage of the experience. I dreaded having to return for Residential camp.

I can still remember my turning point as clear as day, I was about to give my speech on Youth Empowerment and I looked around and saw my brother Joel standing in the audience, phone in hand, ready to record my speech with a huge smile on his face. Surrounding him were other Taskies cheering me on with smiles and thumbs up giving me the support to know that I could do this. This group of taskforce members believed in me, and I owed it to them to believe in myself too.

It definitely was far from the best speech I have given but I walked away from that lectern feeling proud and empowered. Emotions I never believed were possible to feel about myself. At that moment I realised why I was there. I was there because I was full of passion about issues that were close to home and close to my heart and I finally found a home for my views and concerns. That place was YP.

I continued to stay in the program as a participant over the following two years and loved every moment of it. I loved having the ability to learn, grow and be influenced by the people around me. It is a gift I will always be appreciative of. I felt a strong desire to give back to the program the essentially gave me my future.

I am just about to take part in my 7th and possibly final year in the program. Every time someone asks me ‘what is youth parliament?’ I can still never find an adequate answer. How do you describe a program that has completely shaped who you are? I find it easiest to describe it as this: Youth Parliament is a program that has created a better version of me, it has given me hope, it has believed in me when I hadn’t believed in myself, it has given me second family and has created the most rewarding and inspiring path that I have ever journeyed on.

Throughout my time as a participant, a Taskforce member and now a Program Director for Parliament Primary School and Junior Parliament I have learnt this: you are not just a participant in the program; you are a leader, a friend, a mentor, an advocate, an inspiration and you are true hero for having the courage to stand up and fight for what you believe in.

My words could never give the program the justice it deserves but hopefully it inspires another lost soul find their way by getting involved in YP.