YOUNG LEADERS SHINE IN LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY FOR YOUTH PARLIAMENT 2023
This week more than 90 young people will take a seat in the Legislative Assembly for a four-day sitting in the Parliament of NSW, as part of the Y NSW Youth Parliament program.
Participants will raise and debate important issues relevant to their committees by preparing Youth bills across a range of portfolios including Environment and Climate Change; Mental Health; Justice; Aboriginal Affairs, Education, Women’s Affairs, and Inclusion and Diversity.
As NSW’s premier youth empowerment program operating for over 20 years, Youth Parliament offers young people the opportunity to debate in NSW Parliament, create Youth Bills on issues for change, and have their voices and recommendations heard by Members of Parliament.
Aimed at young people in years 10 to 12 or equivalent age, the Y NSW Youth Parliament highlights the power of young people speaking on issues that are important to them and their local communities.
“Led by young people for young people, each year’s Youth Parliament cohort receives training from the Y NSW, youth volunteers, participants and external professional bodies,” explained the Y NSW CEO Susannah Le Bron.
“In the last ten years, approximately 1000 young people have participated in the program and this year we have 93 participants from a diverse range of backgrounds including those from rural areas as well as First Nations young people, refugees and people living with a disability.
“Every participant’s potential to lead, learn and connect is nurtured through parliamentary education, community engagement, confidence building and teamwork. They develop their skills in creating social impact and positive change in a diverse, inclusive, safe and supportive environment,” added Le Bron.
The Youth Parliament Program has taken significant strides towards inclusivity and empowerment by actively involving a range of participants in this year’s program.
Jordi is 17 years old and is part of the Empowered Living sponsorship for the Youth Parliament program. Living in Orange NSW, Jordi is passionate about LGBTQIA+ rights and education, disability awareness and youth mental health and has been involved in the program for three years.
“Youth Parliament plays an important role in allowing young people to have their voices heard and I am proud to represent my community as a youth parliamentarian,” said Jordi.
“Youth Parliament gives young people, like me, a great platform to raise issues that are significant, not only in our communities but anywhere. This program is run by youth for youth and allows us to shine a light on what is important to us”, she added.
Over the course of this week these exceptional young individuals will showcase their abilities, voice their concerns, and advocate for positive change within legislative frameworks.
Rachel is a 17-year-old student from Parramatta who is new to the Youth Parliament program in 2023 and making inroads with her passion for advocating gender equality.
“The Youth Parliament program provides the unique opportunity to not only connect with people who have various perspectives, but who are willing to debate diplomatically about social issues. Young people’s voices are more important than ever before and I think that it’s really encouraging to see the activism of our generation,” explained Rachel.
“Youth Parliament teaches the young people how to lead and engage in debate that is productive and has the potential to make change. The prospect of drafting a bill is so exciting and inspiring, as politics can often seem inaccessible,” she added.
Rachel is part of the Women’s Affairs committee where she will support the drafting of a bill to support mothers returning to work.
“For me, intersectionality is so important, not just in social justice movements, but also in legal representation. Although we have come so far in terms of representation of women in our parliament, there is still much more work to do.
“We have drafted a bill that supports mothers’ reintegration into the workforce after maternity leave through breaking down stigma, creating easily accessible counselling programs for new mothers, introducing childcare services in government workplaces and increasing income support for mothers experiencing financial instability,” concluded Rachel.
Following this week’s Youth Sitting Week in the Legislative Assembly, Youth Parliament participants such as Jordi and Rachel will go on to refine their bills as part of their committees. This week Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales will be providing the opening address at Parliament House and participants will visit Government House. The Youth Parliament program then progresses with the Y NSW facilitating meetings with relevant MPs where participants have the opportunity to present their Youth Bills in person.
For the Y NSW’s 2023 Youth Parliament program there are 93 participants covering more than 70 per cent of the state’s electorates. This year’s cohort includes 40 per cent from metropolitan areas and 60 per cent from rural and regional communities.Back to news