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Youth Parliament 2021 - Live Blog

Welcome to the 2021 Y NSW Youth Parliament Live Blog. Lyndal Stuart, Priyanka Dharmapalan and Sam Squire writing this week, direct from our virtual Youth Parliament where we will convene for the 19th year. We’ll post as sessions conclude, so please feel free to read from the bottom up and enjoy this inspiring week with the Y NSW.

4.45pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Thank you everyone for reading and keeping up with our live updates of the debates and select sessions at Youth Parliament 2021.

This is Lyndal Stuart signing off for this year’s Youth Parliament live blog.

See you all in July!

4.43pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Tahlia Kittos is congratulating the Youth Governor, Abbey Dawson, for taking on her new role and hands the floor to Tina Flaskas.

Tina Flaskas is thanking everyone for their participation and hard work.

The formal proceedings of the Youth Parliament Closing Ceremony have now concluded – as has the 2021 Youth Parliament.

4.42pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Abbey Dawson, the Youth Governor for 2022 is thanking everyone at Youth Parliament for the opportunity.

4.40pm | Friday 21 January 2021

And Holly Mack has made the big announcement – the Youth Governor for 2022 is…

Abbey Dawson, the Member for Bega.

4.39pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Holly Mack, the Youth Governor 2021 is about to present the Youth Governor for 2022.

Holly Mack said: “This has been a very crazy experience with lots of ups and downs, laughter and tears, and the opportunity to work with the most extraordinary group of people.”

She said she is so incredibly proud.

Connor, Ethan and Abbey – I am so proud of where you started with Youth Parliament and where you are now. “I would be proud to give any of you this position, but there can only be one Youth Governor.”

4.37pm | Friday 21 January 2021

The Youth Parliament Taskforce member of the Year goes to Zoe Davis.

4.35pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Youth Parliamentarian of the Year Award goes to someone who is a great all-rounder – who demonstrates great leadership in advocacy, encourages everyone. Tahlia Kittos announces this award in memory of Jeremy Doowidge, and presents this to an emotional Noah Smith, Member for Pittwater.

4.33pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Youth Parliament Encouragement Award goes to someone to encourages everyone and keeps morale high. Tina Flaskas is presenting the Youth Parliament of the Year Award

And the winner is – Jayden Delbridge, Member for Wyong.

4.33pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Lachlan Hyde is presenting the Best Speaker for the Opposition…

Claire Oberdorfer, Member for Rockdale

4.33pm | Friday 21 January 2021

And…the Best Speaker for the Government: Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst

4.32pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Zoe Davis is now announcing the Youth Parliament Awards for 2021.

4.26pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Our amazing Youth Parliament Coordinator, Tahlia Kittos is signing off from the program after an extraordinary 12 years of service. Tahlia has handed over to Tina Flaskas.

Tahlia started her journey with Youth Parliament as a nervous 15 year old to today.

The Y NSW thanks Tahlia Kittos for her amazing service to this program.

4.26pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Our amazing Youth Parliament Coordinator, Tahlia Kittos is signing off from the program after an extraordinary 12 years of service. Tahlia has handed over to Tina Flaskas.

The Y NSW thanks Tahlia Kittos for her amazing service to this program.

4.24pm | Friday 21 January 2021

The Premier, Indigo Lee Wilson, the Member for Kuring-gai has commenced her career with cow jokes.

“Knowing that we played a role in tangible change means a lot.”

“We have all made the most of this experience and milked it for all it was worth.”

Youth Parliament was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and to be Premier. I’d like to thank my executive team, and especially to Abbey for not launching a coup against me or having me referred to ICAC – as James Valentine suggested on live radio.”

Graciously thanking her team and everyone for their investment in Youth Parliament, the Premier closed her final speech of the program.

4.19pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Susannah Le Bron calls out the extraordinary tenacity, effort and grace of everyone involved in Youth Parliament for creating a dynamic week of debate online.

She has committed to all participants that the Y NSW will continue to advocate for, and with, young people – stating that the voice of youth is vital, essential and must be heard. She also called for the ongoing support of Youth Parliament so that young people can engage with the democratic and legislative process.

The CEO thanked her team, the volunteers and all participants.

4.10pm | Friday 21 January 2021

The Y NSW CEO, Susannah Le Bron, is about to deliver her closing address.

4.08pm | Friday 21 January 2021

The Y NSW CEO, Susannah Le Bron, is about to deliver her closing address.

4.06pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Huge thanks from everyone at Youth Parliament and the Y NSW to Hamani Tanginoa for that wonderful Welcome to Country at our Closing Ceremony.

3.50pm | Friday 21 January 2021

We’re about to conclude the colourful Youth Parliament Taskforce vs Participant Debate, with Mr Big Brother Bry (the Y NSW’s Brand Manager) presiding.

Stay tuned – the Youth Parliament 2021 Closing Ceremony is about to commence and we’ll be announcing the Youth Governor for 2022.

12:00pm | Friday 21 January 2021

Matters of Public Importance

A rigorous debate on the Matters of Public Importance was opened up by chairperson Leslie Williams.

The Honourable Lani Holfter, Member for Snowy Monaro, kicked off proceedings and moved that the House would mandate that all members of the Commonwealth Parliament be required by law to retire upon reaching the age of 70.

The Member’s argument was furthered by her view that the input of younger, fresher voices in Parliament would be key to furthering the representation of a future.

“Madam Speaker, in order to move our country forward, we need the input of youth voices,” the Honourable Holfter said.

The Honourable Holfter said young people are starting to understand that they “have a voice”.

“Parliament is making decisions that will greatly impact our future, such as on climate change. We need to have a voice in Parliament as we understand the issues that are going to affect our future.”

The Honourable Michael Piela, Member for Keira, refuted the proposal for the motion, branding the Opposition’s proposal as “age discrimination”.

“Madam Speaker, if we were to be in a workplace and we were to say […] ‘you've turned 70, please leave your job’, we will be facing a matter in court of unfair dismissal,” the Honourable Piela said. “Madam Speaker, age discrimination is something that does not need to exist in our country and it's something that we should not be promoting.”

The debate continued to raise many interesting points pertaining to Indigenous societies, age discrimination, technology, and relevance of voice by age.

Government argued further that older politicians could fall out of touch with younger constituents through a disconnect with social media as a main form of communication to the demographic.

The Opposition retained that older Members of Parliament should not be limited to the stereotypes of age, including the stereotype that they fall out of touch with modern technology and social media.

After more debating, the motion went to the final vote.

11.30am | Friday 21 January 2021

Conor Burke, Member for Mulgoa, moves that the report be considered in detail.

The ayes have it.

Opposition moves that the amendments be tabled and agreed to.

Speaker moves to the Amendment phase.

The ayes have it.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

8 ayes and 26 nos.

The amendments are resolved in the negative.

Member for the Barwon is called to exercise right of reply.

Campbell Quintrell speaks, and moves that the Bill be read a third time.

Speaker reminds everyone that this is the final and a conscience vote.

Speaker believes the ayes have it.

Division is required.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

36 ayes, 3 nos.

The result of the final decision is that the motion is resolved in the affirmative.

Speaker vacates the chair.

10.54am | Friday 21 January 2021

Victor Quin, Member for Mt Druitt, is the first to contribute to the debate. Says asexuality is often overlooked.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon, points that the Government keeps pointing to: ‘if, maybe, predictions, possibilities’. That is why there is a review Bill.

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst, highlights that all the data review process will be meaningless if teachers are not trained. We need to retrain our teachers, otherwise they will be receiving review information that they cannot act on effectively. We need to implement a cultural shift. We need support spaces and training.

Indigo Lee Wilson, Member for Kuring-gai, we were asked ‘where’s the trust in our teachers, we don’t ask Doctors to update their knowledge on medicine’. This is flawed. Doctors attend conferences that update them on the latest medical and clinical advances. We do trust teachers, but they’re not counsellors or social workers. On the topic of saying it’s ok to wait every three years for there to be a review is not acceptable – women are being raped now.

Daina Kerr, Member for Goulburn-Mulwaree, I would like to highlight that teachers do continuously undertake professional development like doctors.

Le Linh Do, Member for Lismore, I would like to quote the opposition. They have asked us how we would feel if our math teacher talks to us about sex education. It is not proposed that all teachers would speak to students about sex education, only that they would be trained to understand the issues so that all teachers understand the modernisation of sex education.

Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon, the focus is on the curriculum – not the school environment. When you look at the Bill the focus is not the school environment, it is about the curriculum.

Jayden Delbridge, Member for Wyong: The Member for Goulburn-Mulwaree stated that teachers continuously undertake professional development. She is right. Professional development happens all the time, but not in this sector and three years to review this is way too long. These issues are happening now. We don’t need to wait three years to know that these issues are current and we need to change this right now.

Vivien Van Luyt, Member for Heathcote, the Government amendments are not relevant. The recommendations are unrealistic. What makes the Government believe that we would have access to psychologists and counsellors?

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst: The opposition is claiming that our points fall outside the scope of education of students. One of our amendments is that support services should be made available to students in an environment removed from the wider school body so they don’t feel intimidated. “What people are going through is quite traumatic and we need to create safe spaces and get the support they need and so deserve,” he said.

Noah Smith doesn’t feel that there needs to be a delay of three years, they just need to update themselves. There are regular staff development days.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon: I struggle to understand the issues being raised by the Government. They’re stating that there are already issues in the curriculum – and that is what this Bill is about. The review system may find that there is no need for any change. Why would you legislate that all teachers must undergo training every three years if they don’t need to? States this is a gross misuse of resources.

Brooklyn Rullis, Member for Miranda: There is no suggestion that teachers would have to act as psychologists or counsellors, that support would be given.

Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon: I am from a rural area and we already have a shortage of classrooms to teach our students in, and we have a shortage of skilled staff. The closest professional from Headspace is already 300 kilometres away. This is also true of our metropolitan colleagues – they don’t have access to this professional support. States that if we train the teachers, the help is there.

Ariana Wang, Member for Sydney: Points out that the school environment also needs to be considered because it is an essential part of everyday school life.

James Frost, Member for Oatley: The first amendment, the allowance of safe spaces, would divert from the Bill’s main purpose and that is the review of education and curriculum.

Jayden Delbridge, Member for Wyong: The Member for Barwon states that ‘our system might be perfect’ and that the issues will be found out in the review. This is divorced from reality – this is something that has been happening for years…years. The opposition keeps bringing up the point of staff training days – but why can’t we just train our teachers at them? The current culture of our schools is not going to be fixed by the syllabus – we need to fix the culture to make meaningful change.

Jordie Thurtell, Member for Orange: The Government keeps using words like ‘could, or might’.

Victor Quin, Member for Mt Druitt: The Member for Kuring-gai and the Member for Wakehurst have missed the point – the issues of the I and the A in the LGBTQIA needs to be addressed. There is a lack of education and awareness seem to have made their way into this chamber.

Raani Narayan, Member for Strathfield: Points out that staff development days take place twice a year.

Ella Feeney, Member for Charlestown points out that counsellors in schools are not a regular fixture, and that the A in the LGBTQIA are overlooked.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon: the focus here has to be on the education. Support staff are already difficult to find funding for – and it’s damaging already. The Bill will be scrapped because of one single clause.

Pedram Ali, Member for Cabramatta: Points to the remarks by the Member for Oatley that there ‘may be a review’. Why not ‘will, must and should’.

Noah Smith, Member for Pittwater: It would be impractical for every PDHPE class to have a support worker. How does the Government plan to achieve their proposed amendment? I can’t see how this would work.

Zaccary Lancaster, Member for Holsworthy: “It is clear that the Opposition does not have a leg to stand on”. He states that the Opposition is nitpicking and no longer arguing the essence of the Bill. They are just attacking us, and it is clear that the amendments are needed.

Sonisha Nagra, Member for Oxley: Points to the fact that PDHPE is a specialism and resources should be focused on training them, not all teachers.

Daina Kerr, Member for Goulburn-Mulwaree: Points to the fact that consultation has been undertaken and quotes a teacher who said: “Telling teachers how to do their jobs is not a matter for the Government.”

There are five more minutes of open debate remaining.

10.37am | Friday 21 January 2021

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon has called for the reading of the Bill a second time.

Mr Quintrell states that the education curriculum with respect to sex education doesn’t reflect current society. States it is damaging, not inclusive and limits students’ understanding and education about sex education, consent, gender diversity, identity and sexuality. Greater acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community is increasing, it needs to be reflected in teaching. The modernising sex education Bill seeks to rectify the failings of current sex education curriculum. He points to teacherse role as a catalyst for progress, change and healthy understanding. “Teachers must be educated to educate,” he said. “It’s time for a relevant and appropriate standard of sex education.”

Vivien Van Luyt, Member for Heathcote, continues to make the case for the Bill. She points to the fact that one in two women will be sexually harassed in their lifetime. Calls on her experience with sex education, where there was no mention of sexuality in reference to LGBTQIA+ individuals, or contraception. Simply a video on consent and fearful mentions of pregnancy as a deterrent for women.

Ariana Wang, Member for Sydney, commences her statement of review with respect to the need for amendment. The refuting team believe changes are needed. Failing to recognise the challenges of teaching about rape and sexual assault to students who may have experienced this and teachers are not trained as social workers or counsellors to deal with these issues.

James Frost, Member for Oatley, outlines the details and specifics of a curriculum review. This would include an evaluation process, surveys, and real world data monitoring that would provide the opportunity to refine the sex education curriculum.

Indigo Lee Wilson, Member for Kuring-gai, prefaces that the Bill highlights an important issue but it needs to be consolidated and refined to be effective. She points to the fact that discussing sex education including content on rape and sexual assault could trigger trauma for students who have had these experiences. She highlights that teachers aren’t trained to manage emotional trauma, or the impact of trauma.

Daina Kerr, the Member for Goulburn-Mulwaree, specifies that it is specifically PDHPE teachers have this topic as their focus – not all teachers – and they will have their training refined every three years. Where is the trust in teachers? We are implementing a review system that would create a dynamic syllabus.

The floor is now open for debate.

10.30am | Friday 21 January 2021

It’s the last day of Youth Parliament 2021. Can you believe it? What a week!

We’re kicking off today’s live blog with the Education debate this morning. We’re being joined by Ms Sophie Cotsis, Member for Canterbury and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, and Shadow Minister for Work Health and Safety.

4:40pm | Thursday 20 January 2021

Mr Mackay offered some sage words to the program participants.

I just want to thank you all so much for this really, really great debate. It's really an honour to be able to come back and be part of the program. I was the youth member for Blue Mountains 17 years ago, which is crazy. I was at school and did youth parliament. There were around 30 of us in the program at the time representing 11 electorates. So, it was tiny. The program has come a long way since then. After I was a participant, I was taskie for a while and I also worked at the Y helping run the program. And Youth Parliament has been a huge part of my life, it's really shaped where I am now. So, I now work as a campaigner on various issues at moment working for Australian Red Cross, working in the Justice space and something that I really directly attribute to the time I had at youth parliament. Basically before why pay all my subjects at school the sciences and I was set on becoming a doctor. As soon as I got back from our camp, I changed all my electives in subjects to the arts and legal studies and set my sights on becoming a lawyer and went to law school instead. This program really does change lives and I've seen this same type of thing happened to hundreds of kids across New South Wales. In regards to today's debate, it was excellent. Congratulations to you all, really great bills so graduations to the team and to the opposition is a hard one to debate but I think you did a great job. I do want to remind everyone, as you're sitting here, really try to remember that you are representing your community. It's not this this isn't purely a policy debate. It's not just about the black and white letters on the paper that we've printed for these bills. It's about the people that you're representing from your community. And I really love to hear stories of what's going on in your community and the people that the young people that you're supposed to be representing during your time here at US parliament and try to work that into your speeches try to work that into your rationale for supporting or not supporting a bill. I'll call out half of people so member for Menaro do a great job standing up for her electorate and putting it out there for everyone to know that she was purely thinking about the people in her electorate when she was making a decision on this bill, which I think is really important. And the member for Holsworthy also made that clear to and shared with us kind of his rationale and his personal stories as to why he supports the bill as well. So I really encourage everyone to not worry about definitions of territories, but worry about the people that you're here representing. And that brings me to my last point, which is actually so I came along to the opening ceremony the other day. What I would say is they talked about politics a lot they talked about the system and try and get into politics. What I would try to counter into talking about politics and talking about the system is talk about the community. Talk about people talk about why you're in politics, talk about why you're sitting in Parliament, talk about why you're writing bills, don't worry about the system, worry about what you're trying to achieve in the system. It's a great objective to get into politics. But once you're there what are you going to do? Your objective is around making impact making change. So I encourage you to not worry about the system and try to make it in politics. I really encourage you to really frame it around people and the difference you can make.

Q: What's a message I can give to young people that I've used throughout my time in leadership?

A: It’s really about it's really about the people that you're representing or leading. It's the team. It's the community that you're representing. I always try to keep them at the front of mind in the work that I do now or I'm various human rights campaigning. I’m a white guy from the middle class but a big part of my role is trying to give voice and opportunity to those who don't have it to be able to stand up for human rights or talk about issues that concern them. So instead of me going down to Canberra and to Parliament House and talking about human rights violations, what we do is ensure that we have people who are affected by these human rights issues with us down in Parliament. I'm it's not me talking to politicians. It's people whose families are being affected overseas or it's people from indigenous communities in northern territory, who are being overrepresented in justice system, making sure we give them the platform to talk. And so when leading and thinking about that, I really encourage you to take that on as well

Q What's your biggest achievement for the people in your electorate.

A: So yeah, I grew up in blue mountains and I spent some time outside of the mountains through uni and starting my career, but now have moved back with my family here and you've recently had a baby boy and raising him here in the mountains and I love the Blue Mountains. I'm very passionate about our community. A couple of things that I've worked on. So the very first campaign that ever worked on was the local council trying to demolish my local pool, the black youth pool I saw a couple of Blue Mountains, people on the line and show they know Blackheath cool. It was kind of falling to bits. But I was part of a really big community Campaign to Save the pool. And yeah, we won and it's still there. That kind of lit the fire of my community activism. And then I went on to campaign for other things in my town as well such as my soccer club and all these other all these other sports all shared one oval after training, even though there was another oval on the other side of town that wasn't used. So I led a community campaign to get that upgraded for the footy team to be able to use that. And another campaign, which is a little bit more controversial in my town was to get another set of traffic lights put up on the highway because people were being injured, and the traffic was shocking. So there are a couple of campaigns that I ran as a teenager throughout the time I was at youth parliament as well.

4:35pm | Thursday 20 January 2021

Opposition moves that the amendments be tabled and agreed to.

Speaker, Mr Joel Mackay moves to the Amendment phase.

The ayes have it.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

14 ayes and 25 nos.

The amendments are resolved in the negative.

Member for the Holsworthy called to exercise right of reply.

Zaccary Lancaster speaks, and moves that the Bill be read a third time.

Speaker reminds everyone that this is the final and a conscience vote.

Speaker believes the ayes have it.

Division is required.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

25 ayes, 11 nos.

The result of the final decision is that the motion is resolved in the affirmative.

Speaker vacates the chair.

4:00pm | Thursday 20 January 2021

The Member for Holsworthy began his speech by pointing out the disparities across public transport access. Highlighting that countless people across regional and metropolitan New South Wales are often subject to either long delays or limited access to public transport. The government’s vision includes projects that will positively impact New South Wales citizens.

Examples include:

  • The addition of light rail in Sydney, Wollongong, and Newcastle will facilitate transport in CBD, making CBD more pedestrian-friendly
  • bus relocation program
  • upgrade of rural and regional roads with an expansion of ferry services will also facilitate better movement within the region, thus stimulating the rural economy
  • a new ring road system around the greater Sydney region

Mr Lancaster explained that this Bill will jumpstart the development and implementation of emerging tech ensuring that New South Wales is on the cutting edge of Transportation Technology. He then accused the Opposition for being against a sustainable future and elaborated that the amendments sought by the opposition only seek to destroy the Bill by dismantling clean efficient energy.

Hunter Blunden, Member for Newcastle, agreed that something needs to be done to improve the transport system. However felt that the Bill gave a very good view into what a solution could look like, yet lacked the clarity to be effective. Mr Blunden believed that the Bill proposes massive and complex issues which require enormous efforts from public and private industries and has been identified in the past as totally useless to the state of New South Wales. The Opposition’s amendment is to mandate an investigation into the possibility of a high-speed rail network in the state, rather than starting construction straightaway. Total implementation of atomic energy into the transport and road networks. They would establish the Atomic Energy Electricity Commission and the Atomic Energy Waste Management Team and task these groups with the construction of atomic energy plants in the fluorine or hydrogen power. This will empower the public transport network. Rather than building atomic energy plants they recommend establishing solar, wind and hydro and then after, thoroughly investigate the use of atomic energy with both foreign and zero carbon hydrogen plants. He finished by questioning the Government’s decision to locate the atomic energy plant in Jervis Bay, pointing out that it was out of their jurisdiction.

Cameron Last, Member for Ryde, labelled the Bill a “comprehensive infrastructure plan for the 21st century, leaving no stone unturned.” The Member for Ryde describe the benefits of the Bill, drawing attention to reduced traffic in Sydney and reduced carbon emissions. He made an effort to differentiate the Jarvis Bay territory and the Jarvis Bay area, the later in New South Wales. He concluded by discussing the expansion of ferries.

Aaron Rucinski, Member for Sydney, criticised the Bill for lacking the critical foresight in regards to the implementation of the plan and for failing to adequately address its own purpose or deliver an achievable timeframe for their objectives. He then addressed how the clause delegates responsibility for implementing a VFR network across the state and already determines which land to be upgraded. He made a final plea by asking members to vote for the Bill and the attachments, without them it will lead to a disaster for by the state’s infrastructure and the people of New South Wales.

Connor Burke, Member for Mulgoa, made it a priority to distinguish the difference between the Jervis Bay Area and Jervis Bay Territory for the Opposition. He then discussed how the Bill would create ‘connected communities’. The Bill allowing for the future investigations and the construction of new metro lines in Greater Sydney. Member for Mulgoa moved on to the environmental and economic benefits, including low carbon transport and increased jobs state-wide.

Claire Oberdorfer, Member for Rockdale, shared that the opposition believes that the enhancement of our transport system is imperative in order to have a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and efficient transport system. She then pointed out the housing and environmental implications of the Governments’ Bill without amendments.

3.45pm | Thursday 20 January 2021

Before the Debate proceeded, we heard from the Y NSW CEO Susannah Le Bron. She discussed her professional history at Sydney Trains, joining the agency in 2016 as the executive director of customer service. She further sharing her greatest achievements and passion for public transport.

Joel Mackay, former Youth Parliament coordinator and National Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the Australian Red Cross is the Guest Speaker at the Transport, Roads and Infrastructure Committee Debate.

The committee is debating A Bill for An Act for the provision of Accessible Statewide Transportation Systems in New South Wales.

14.30pm | Thursday 20 January 2021

And we’re in session for the Justice Debate at the 2021 virtual Youth Parliament. The Speaker for this session is the Hon. Rose Jackson, Shadow Minister for Water, Housing and Homelessness.

The Bill under discussion is for the retaining of police officers. Key points of focus are the manner in which police officers forcefully enter places of residence, disclosure of identity and ensuring police officers understand the full spectrum of gender identities, removal of garments in a culturally and socially sensitive manner and an understanding of sensory sensitivities.

The Bill is now under debate.

12.25pm | Thursday 20 January 2021

Kaitlin Parish, Member for Rockdale, moves that the report be considered in detail.

The ayes have it.

Opposition moves that the amendments be tabled and agreed to.

Speaker, Mr Deen Rad moves to the Amendment phase.

The ayes have it.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

26 ayes and 19 nos.

The amendments are resolved in the affirmative.

Member for the Blue Mountains called to exercise right of reply.

Claudia Wedesweiler speaks, and moves that the Bill be read a third time.

Speaker reminds everyone that this is the final and a conscience vote.

Speaker believes the ayes have it.

Division is required.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

45 ayes, 0 nos.

The result of the final decision is that the motion is resolved in the affirmative.

Speaker vacates the chair.

11.37am | Thursday 20 January 2021

Mr Deen Rad is actually our Speaker for the Mental Health Committee Debate. Welcome Mr Rad.

The Bill is being read for the first time.

Claudia Wedesweiler, Member for the Blue Mountains asks that the Bill be passed unamended. Summarises that the Bill will rectify in some part the current mental health crisis facing New South Wales in three ways:

  1. 1. To improve knowledge and understanding for schools, students and parents through the PDHP curriculum.
  2. 2. To improve partnerships.
  3. 3. Supporting students via parental relationships within the community.

States that Government programs that currently exist have limited benefits. The Bill mandates that a core part of the PDHP curriculum be dedicated to mental health issues and how to support those struggling.

Member for Rockdale, Kaitlin Parish states that the Opposition are in support of the Bill but that the Opposition believes amendments need to be made. Although the issues should be monitored, these issues disproportionately impact rural and regional communities, and lower social-economic areas. The Bill needs to clarify how compliance will be managed and reported. Points out that they at least rectify the spelling errors contained in the Bill.

Damien Doowage, Member for Hornsby, disagrees that any amendment should be made to applying a metric for how mental health is taught and these impacts. This is vital to ensure we can see improvement or where changes need to be made. Clarifies what the changes to the PDHP curriculum would be and what it would contain: a kit for key resources and contact information. Increasing community partnerships with organisations like Headspace and with the local parental community will simplify access to help for all students.

Daniel Barrell, Member for Port Stephens states that any introduction of gamifying mental health solutions. States that this is a ‘one size fits all’ solution that doesn’t apply for mental health. States it would harm students’ mental health and marginalised communities and individuals. Feels the measurement proposal would create a further burden for schools in lower socio-economic areas, where they already have less funding. Feels this treats mental health as a trivial issue that is just another number, disregarding the nuances and complex nature of mental health and wellbeing.

Jordi Thurtell, Member for Orange says that this Bill is what New South Wales needs and would greatly benefit from. It would provide these benefits in two ways: identifying characteristics of mental health in others, and providing support to those who are experiencing mental health challenges.

11.22am | Thursday 20 January 2021

The Hon. Jonathan O’Dea, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for Question Time at Youth Parliament has vacated the Chair at Question Time and congratulated all participants for their excellent contribution.

The Mental Health Committee Debate will commence shortly with Tahlia Kittos presiding.

10.51am | Thursday 20 January 2021

We are joined by the Hon. Jonathan O’Dea, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for Question Time at Youth Parliament.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon has taken aim at the Premier – stating that he didn’t appreciate the discriminatory statement in relation to regional and rural New South Wales regarding access to Rapid Antigen Tests.

The Premier has responded that ‘it doesn’t mean that the rest of the country should go without’. The Premier has clarified her points, stating that Australia Post will still service delivery of the tests – it would just take longer.

Member for Pittwater, Noah Smith has a question for the Premier – what has been her favourite part of a Bill that wasn’t hers this week.

The Premier is happy to respond. The Premier personally feels that all the Bills have been terrific so far and agrees with all of them. Her favourite Bill was the Women’s Affairs Bill and it was passed unanimously.

Member for Rockdale has a question for Zaccary Lancaster about a dual carriageway. The Member for Holsworthy has clarified the meaning of a dual carriageway.

Samuel Barry, the Member for the Upper Hunter, echoes the issue raised by the Member for Barwon. States that he was likened to a ‘genocidal leader’ for referring to non-binary people as non-conformist, yet the Premier can be dismissive about regional and rural communities.

The Premier again reaffirms her points on this matter. She states that with the uniform was different – people would miss out if that code wasn’t implemented. Whereas, the Rapid Antigen Testing matter would ensure everyone would have access.

Member for Kiera, Michael Piela asks how transport will help the people of Kiera. The Member for Holsworthy has responded.

Minister for Transport has been asked by Member for Rockdale to clarify the type of road for the motorway extension.

The Member for Ryde, Cameron Last, has asked the Minister for Transport to outline the environmental benefits that his Bill provides. Minister for Transport is responding – electric light rail, electric buses and eliminating the use of fossil fuels.

Member for Mulgo, Connor Burke has a question for the Minister for Transport asking how his Bill will improve public transport. Minister for Transport retorts: how doesn’t it?

The Minister for Transport is getting quite a bit of attention this morning. Leader of the Opposition has asked the Minister how the Bill will protect natural habitats.

Member for Pittwater, Noah Smith, focuses on Jervis Bay and asks if the Government understands that the Jervis Bay area is in the Australian Capital Territory. The Minister for Transport has clarified that the reactor would be in the Jervis Bay area but in the confines of New South Wales.

Member for Strathfield, Raani Narayan, asks why other energy options have been considered rather than a new Chernobyl near such a precious precinct. Question directed to Minister for Transport. The Minister retorts that this is not Soviet Russia and suggesting this discredits Australian scientists.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon is now responding on matters relating to sex education.

Member for Cabramatta, Pedram Ali has a question for the Leader of the Opposition. Samuel Barry is responding to the question that the Opposition would like more resources for PCR testing clinics, he agrees that is incredibly important but at no time did the Opposition say that funds would be pulled from other essential healthcare services.

Member for Cowper wants clarification on why the Minister for Transport wants a nuclear reactor close to a water source. The Minister states that the site would create jobs for the area and that water sources need to be close to power plants so that there is less chance of rundown.

Member for Wakehurst, Pratham Gupta has a question for the Shadow Attorney General for the Bill on Justice. Why do you think that education and retraining our police offers will benefit our communities when the setting of quotas is in direct conflict with the idea of training. How do we create safer communities.

Paige Goudie is responding stating that the re-education of police would benefit people in the city, but it would very much benefit people in regional and rural communities. There is less diversity in the police force in these regions. The focus was to re-educate the police force regarding vulnerable people and mental health.

And Question Time has concluded.

10.25am | Thursday 20 January 2021

Mr Gurmesh Singh, Member for Coffs Harbour shares that one of the last debates he was a part of where there was a conscience vote was on assisted dying – and it was a vigorous debate. Question from the floor was where Mr Singh was positioned on the vote and the issue. I was supportive of the Bill but my leader and Premier weren’t supportive, but we had a respectful debate. There are eight people who sit on the Speaker panel.

I was supportive of the policy. Both of my grandparents passed away at home after a long illness. I’ve seen that death is not something we discuss as a society. Most people do not die peacefully in their sleep – they die as a result of a protracted illness and it’s not pretty.

What made me worried becoming a speaker?

Well, I needed to watch my potty mouth for a start and to be careful when talking to media. It’s been a challenging time to be in Parliament through COVID.

No, I didn’t participate in the Big Bash cricket. Trying to stay COVIDSafe for a wedding I’m attending.

Provides clarity on how Members of Parliament spend their time, between time at Parliament House and on legislation and working with and in the community – advocating for constituents.

Question on Hamilton – what’s your favourite part? Mr Singh says it’s the part when Burr gets left out of the room – ‘The Room Where it Happens’ – and that’s why people get into politics. They want to be in the room. But for all of his flaws, he was very good at his job. My focus at school was always to get through schoolwork as fast as possible so I could make time for leisure and that’s one of the ideas that come out of Hamilton.


10.25am | Thursday 20 January 2021

Result of the vote is: 29 ayes, 16 nos.

Speaker calls the Members to order, the matter of Public Importance is resolved in the affirmative and the session has concluded. The Speaker vacates the chair.

10.20am | Thursday 20 January 2021

Linh Le Do, Member for Lismore reinforces the case for the proposed plan. States that Youth Parliament face to face would be far more likely if everyone had access to Rapid Antigen Testing.

Moves that the motion be passed.

Speaker calls for a vote on the matter, conscience vote.

States the ayes have it. Division required.

Ring the bells, lock the doors and the house will divide.

Members are voting.

9.58am | Thursday 20 January 2021

And the debate has commenced on the proposal for 10 free Rapid Antigen Tests provided to New South Wales residents.

A Fraser, Member for Blue Mountains: Points out that PCR testing isn’t accessible for everyone if they are unable to drive.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon states that the distribution model needs to be further refined.

Michael Piela, Member for Kiera: Reinforces the point that access to free Rapid Antigen Tests will be available to all vaccinated residents, and everyone with access to Medicare in New South Wales. Being closed is not sustainable, waiting days for test results, is not a way to stay open.

Claire Oberdorfer, Member for Rockdale points out that the supplier in Queensland will of course prioritise profit by sending supplies to the United States – this is a private company.

Charlotte Hooper, Member for Wollondilly asks – what will happen when the 10 free Rapid Antigen Tests run out? There is also no guarantee that people will report if they don’t want to lose time at work.

Raani Narayan, Member for Strathfield points out that people are sleeping in their cars and waiting up to nine days for a PCR test result.

The Premier is now asking what the Opposition plans to do? Are they satisfied that people are suffering with mental health, unable to work and struggling get access to tests. People are dying from this illness, she says. She reinforces that providing Rapid Antigen Tests would not be a replacement for PCR tests and points out that Australia Post would still be able to deliver to regional and rural communities.

Ethan Floyd, Member for Cessnock asks how Aboriginal communities would access Rapid Antigen Tests considering that many of these communities do not live close to distribution centres.

Sam Borgert, Member for Cowper shares a personal family story, where his older brother was turned away from a testing queue because there was a 15 hour wait. His father had a similar experience. Highlights that this is precisely why people live in rural and regional New South Wales need access to Rapid Antigen Tests. People are waiting over a month to receive results.

Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon: States she is a person living in regional and rural New South Wales and states that access to her for purchasing Rapid Antigen Tests, or accessing a PCR test, is 40 minutes away. Asks why we aren’t focusing the resourcing and attention on the health system.

Tahlia Barwick, Member for Tamworth: In my rural area, accessing a PCR tests mean an hour of driving. Relying on PCR tests is a Sydneycentric concept, she says. Ms Barwick would like to address the question from Mr Ethan Floyd and stated that specific deliveries to Aboriginal communities in remote areas would be organised.

Ella Feeney, Member for Charlestown points out the lack of reliability of Rapid Antigen Tests and highlights that one private company cannot be charged with the volume of responsibility this would create.

Sonisha Nagra, Member for Oxley addresses the points made by the Premier and highlights that deliveries from Australia Post are often damaged and lost.

Connor Burke, Member for Mulgoa reiterates one more time – after 10 Rapid Antigen Tests there would be review of the system. He highlights that false positives also occurs with PCR tests. Highlights that neither testing system is perfect or flawless. Reinforces that an age classification has been provided.

Samuel Barry, Member for the Upper Hunter: Calls the Premier a liar. States that it is not 25 percent of New South Wales residents living in rural and regional New South Wales, it’s closer to 40 percent. States that delays for PCR testing was stressed by public holidays and these delays are no longer an issue – services have resumed. Post deliveries are often delayed too.

Kiara Hearne, Member for Bankstown: Addresses the points by the Member for Monaro. Says whether the Opposition likes it or not, Rapid Antigen Tests are being used. Says that providing the free tests mean that if people become unwell, they do not have to leave their home.

Noah Smith, Member for Pittwater: States that if the funds allocated to PCR were increased, it would reduce the wait time to get results, the results would be more reliable and more centres would be able to open. Agrees that anecdotal evidence shouldn’t be considered sound evidence.

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst: “The Opposition’s plan, is to have no plan.” States that what the Government has proposed is a plan that can be rolled out in the short term to provide an immediate solution.

Debate has closed.

9.45am | Thursday 20 January 2021

Noah Smith, Member for Pittwater asks: How does the Government plan to complete this flawed plan? How does the Government plan to get 81 million Rapid Antigen Tests to the people of New South Wales? Will it be sent out a couple at a time? When will the roll out begin.

Pedram Ali, Member for Cabramatta: Points out that the Opposition is coming forward with nothing but barriers to solutions. Also points out that New South Wales is in a shadow lockdown and people are being forced to choose between putting food on the table and accessing a testing kit. People are unable to go to work without access to the tests.

Lani Holfter, Member for Monaro: Points out that she fails to see why the Government wants to give residents access to, and afford, free Rapid Antigen Tests when PCR tests are already free and readily available and they are more reliable. Rapid Antigen Tests have been shown to provide false negatives or false positives, adding further stress and likelihood of spreading infection. Also, PCR testing is providing employment opportunities for Australians. Does the Government want to have the economic hardship of unemployed people in their heads? Also points out that if people fail to test, they are fined $1,000 – adding further burden and stress to people.

Max Pondal, Member for Blacktown: Only the Great Depression can be compared to the current pandemic and the impact on our society and economy, he says. He also points out the strain on the health system. The Government needs to step in, Mr Pondal says.

Sonisha Nagra, Member for Oxley: Speaks of the ‘hibernation’ of the community. Asks what age group will have access to free Rapid Antigen Tests? Says the plan proposed by the Government is flawed and impractical

The floor is now open to debate.

9.42am | Thursday 20 January 2021

Michael Piela, Member for Kiera is speaking. He has pointed out that people living in regional and rural areas are needing to travel to access PCR tests, rather than being able to access Rapid Antigen Tests and complete them at home. The time delays in accessing PCR tests and getting results halts the economy and the working lives of the people of New South Wales. Free Rapid Antigen Tests will not only allow New South Wales to reopen, it will boost consumer confidence.

9.38am | Thursday 20 January 2021

Brooklyn Rullis, Member for Miranda, opposes the proposal from the Government.

She states that the Government hasn’t resolved how to effectively produce and deliver Rapid Antigen Tests. The proposal lacks clarity and direction and would likely disadvantage people living in regional and rural New South Wales, who cannot easily access retail outlets or distribution centres. PCR tests are already a free and practical option. Drive through services prevent people circulating in the community with symptoms more effectively.

Ms Rullis states how the Opposition will make their case for alternatives, and greater and more accurate testing can be achieved.

9.30am | Thursday 20 January 2021

Welcome to our second last day of Youth Parliament!

Our Youth Parliament Premier, Deputy Premier and the Government Whip spoke with James Valentine on ABC Radio Sydney’s Breakfast show this morning – and that is the COVID-19 response.

Speaker this morning is Mr Gurmesh Singh, Member for Coffs Harbour.

The debate this morning is focused on a Bill for 10 free Rapid Antigen Tests for all permanent New South Wales residents in response to the COVID-19. This would be for all people double vaccinated with an ATAGI approved vaccine. Linh Le Do points to a Queensland-based manufacturer to have an allocation for Australian residents rather than shipping its supply to the United States. Ms Linh Le Do summarises that Members this morning will speak about:

  • The prohibitive price and lack of access of Rapid Antigen Tests.
  • The move away from lockdowns.
  • The strain on the healthcare system.

13.20pm | Wednesday 19 January 2021

That concludes our live blog from Youth Parliament for today. We’ll be back with you at 9.30am tomorrow for the COVID-19 Response Committee Debate.

13.15pm | Wednesday 19 January 2021

There are three candidates who will proceed to interviews for the role of Youth Governor 2022:

Connor Burke

Abbey Dawson

Ethan Floyd

One of these young leaders will be announced as the Youth Governor on Friday 21 January 2022.

12.50pm | Wednesday 19 January 2021

Voting is currently underway for Youth Governor for 2022 and will close in five minutes. Youth Parliament will reconvene at 1.30pm.

Good luck to all candidates.

12.30pm | Wednesday 19 January 2021

Ethan Floyd, Member for Cessnock is taking the time in his speech to acknowledge the efforts of all Youth Parliamentarians. His platform and vision for the program is that he wants to empower young voices. He feels that public discourse does not take young voices seriously and that Youth Parliament provides a forum for a diverse group from across all areas of the state and representative of varied groups to debate respectfully. The Member for Cessnock called out his ability to work across committees and deliver a message clearly.

The next candidate is Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon. In second year of university and lives in regional and rural New South Wales and has insight on how challenging it is for young people from these areas and is passionate about advocacy. Wants to find all channels to enable youth voices to be heard.

Brooklyn Rullis, the Member for Miranda, is up next. She recalls her mother’s struggle with cancer amid lockdown and her continued commitment to be responsible and resilient. She works respectfully and collaboratively with everyone at Youth Parliament and has held captaincy roles at her school. She feels no matter who you vote for, the role of Youth Governor will be in safe hands.

Up next is Ella Feeney, Member for Charlestown. Ms Feeney has highlighted her various school and community leadership roles. She has committed to work hard to ensure that everyone at Youth Parliament feels heard and valued. She feels the most important part of the role is the leadership of people.

Connor Burke, the Member for Mulgoa, first identifies the Country on which he stands and acknowledges the determination and resilience of his peers at Youth Parliament in the middle of a pandemic. He highlights his enterprising environmental initiatives and that he has trekked the Kokoda Trail. Mr Burke says he will champion young voices and wants to lead the group. His favourite thing to say is that effort = results. He loves the Y because they believe in the power of young people, and that is us.

Kalvin Biag is now speaking and calls out his humble beginnings and that he has blazed a trail as a young leader with Asian heritage at this school. His community service is varied, including programs with the Australian Defence Force. His commitment as Youth Governor would be to ensure that young voices shape the future.

Abbey Dawson, Member for Bega and Deputy Premier has started talking about the fact that she may be known as someone who talks too much. She has spoken to her passions. She feels that there are three key ingredients that the Youth Governor will need: leadership, courage and motivation. Ms Dawson promises that she will lead with these qualities.

And voting has commenced.

3.45pm | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Speaker, Jihad Dib moves to the Amendment phase.

The ayes have it.

Opposition moves that the amendments be tabled and agreed to.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

35 ayes and 12 nos.

The amendments are resolved in the affirmative.

Member for Wyong called to exercise right of reply.

Jayden Delbridge speaks, and moves that the Bill be read a third time.

Speaker reminds everyone that this is the final and a conscience vote.

Speaker believes the ayes have it.

Division is required.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

44 ayes, 5 nos.

The result of the final decision is that the motion is resolved in the affirmative.

Speaker vacates the chair.

He congratulated everyone and expressed how impressed he was.

3.45pm | Tuesday 18 January 2021

The Y NSW Youth Parliament Energy, Environment and Climate Change Committee Debate has just kicked off. The special guest speaker for the debate is Mr Jihad Dib MP Member for Lakemba, Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change.

An enthusiastic Mr Dib shared that the debate sat close to his portfolios, explaining as Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change there is a significant overlap with environmental issues.

The Member for Lakemba reminded the participants that politics is “actually about doing stuff for people. So, for those of you interested in a career in politics and social service, always remember that the reason you're doing this is because there's people who rely on you so you got to do it as best as you can”.

Jayden Delbridge, Member for Wyong, began by encapsulating the purpose of the Bill - to safeguard the integrity of integral environment and climate in New South Wales.

This is achieved in four parts:

  • mining rehabilitation
    • the bill tries to rehabilitate mines, restoring the area's original natural native flora and fauna
  •  grazing in national parks
    • permits to allow livestock grazing national parks
  • declaring a climate emergency
    • declare a climate emergency, acknowledge the urgency of climate change and be a leader within the response from governments
    • to prevent deforestation and serve areas that have a high degree of biodiversity.
  • moratorium on large scale deforestation
    • implement a moratorium on large scale deforestation and hold government accountable for direct and indirect impacts on deforestation

The Member for Wyong pointed out that in 2019 300,000 Australians went on strike for climate action. He argued that the Bill should be passed without amendments.

Ella Feeney, Member for Charlestown, believes the BIll requires a few amendments to allow it to reach its full potential.

This includes:

  • changes in the penalty points for the parties involved
  • community consultations
  • increased punishment - instead of being removed from land for one year, it should be for five years and the fine should increase from 10 to 15% of the parties total earnings. The fine should also be between 10 000 and 100 1000.
  • precaution points should increase from 10 to 20. For the party receives more than 20 precaution points within a five year period, they will be required to lodge a report to the department, outlining the reasons why they did not meet the requirements

The Opposition believes these increased punishments will show how serious it is when people misuse the mine site.

Yuvrja Thakur, Member for Riverstone, when over the Bill's explanatory notes. Reminding the Speaker that mining is a major source of revenue and employment in New South Wales, and many domestic economies depend on it to succeed. He elaborated by explaining the purpose of the mine rehabilitation section is to allow mining to occur in a more environmentally friendly manner, and to hold mining companies more accountable for their practices through the Environmental Protection Plan. He pointed out that the Bills isn't designed to heavily disadvantaged mining companies, rather a balance has to be struck between mining and mining regeneration. The Bill already provides this balance in an effective manner. Member for Riverstone spoke to the Opposition’s amendments. He argued that the Second Amendment states that the number of precautionary points needed before having to lodge a report to the department should be increased from 10 points in five years to 20 points in five months. Accusing it of watering down the Bill and decreasing the amount of accountability placed upon binding corporations instead pandering to them and allowing them to continue engaging in practices that have harmed our environment with no consequences for such a long time. Yes, mine will make mistakes initially. That's why the bill has 10 precautionary points. He then addressed the third amendment, which requires mining parties to consult with local communities around the minds. He pointed out that the Bill already introduces two new committees and that creating another adds another layer of bureaucracy.

Greta Cook, Member for Manly, outlined implementing standards for grazing, that include penalties for violations to protect our parks and wildlife from biodiversity loss, damages to flora and soil habitat, habitat damage and to enact accountability. She reiterated that violations will be fined monetary funds of a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $100,000 as well as the potential for suspension of grazing lines. The Member for Manly urged the chamber to safeguard our environment by enacting these amendments to ensure the sustainability and biodiversity of our parts for generations to come.

Max Pondal, Member for Blacktown, urged the house to declare that we are in a climate emergency. He reminded the house that 2047 jurisdictions in 37 countries have declared a climate emergency He referred to this time as one pivotal moments in modern history, as we are headed for a complete catastrophe if we do not manage to get our act together. He reminded everyone that the fate of billions of people around the world will be determined by how the people in power respond to grow to the growing challenges of the future. He concluded by stating “This bill is safeguarding the environment.”

Victor Qin, Member for Mount Druitt, began by addressing the matter of the mines. He shared that New South Wales has over 40 active mines. If a mine receives a precaution point, the Bill states a 10% fine of the mine's earnings during the financial year, per precaution point. He clarified that the earnings meant the mine’s profits. He explained that the fines will serve as a serious deterrent against continuous mistakes, and it forces mining companies to consider the seriousness of the situation. He shared that he believes we should provide mining companies with breathing room to change their ways, as we cannot expect big companies to change peacefully and successfully without this minimum pricing provided by the amendment.

Tarine Vivarjitha, Member for Paramatta, accused the Oppositions amendments for being completely unnecessary to the original Bill and only adding complications and limiting the possibility of creating real change. She refuted The Honourable Victor Quinn’s claims that the increased fines will have little impact on larger mining companies and reminded the house that the smaller companies will certainly feel the detrimental impact of the fine. She then referred to research to prove the benefits of grazing in national parks. Calling the benefits of managed rotational grazing limitless.

Caitlin Kempe, Member for Oatley, reiterated that the Opposition’s amendments allowed the Bill to reach its full potential. She stressed the importance of the consultation process and the committee overseeing the quarterly mining reports. Further elaborating that community consultation will allow mining activities and grazing to continue long term with successful rehabilitation and protection of the land and environment. Summarising that the amendments will allow for equal democracy and accountability in the protection of the land with the local community being given the ability to keep commercial businesses accountable for the actions on the land.

Chelsea Burgess Hannon, Member for Wagga, disagreed with the Oppositions’ statement that the Bill would reach its full potential with the amendments. Arguing that the more consultation added to the Bill, the less progress that will be made. “The worst action that we can take is inaction and the more consultation that we have, the less action that is being taken.”

2.16pm | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Speaker, Jodie Harrison moves to the Amendment phase.

The ayes have it.

Opposition moves that the amendments be tabled and agreed to.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

42 ayes and 7 nos.

Resolved in the affirmative.

Member for Sydney called to exercise right of reply.

Ariana Wang speaks, and moves that the Bill be read a third time.

Speaker reminds everyone that this is the final and a conscience vote.

Speaker believes the ayes have it.

Division is required.

Division is required. Ring the bells, lock the doors.

50 ayes, 0 nos.

The vote is unanimous. The result of the final decision is that the motion is resolved in the affirmative.

Speaker vacates the chair.

Ms Jodie Harrison MP Member for Charlestown has opened the floor for questions.

Q: what stopping the New South Wales government from enacting a similar bill?

A: You don't necessarily need legislation to make action as a government. And last year, I don't know whether you've heard about a thing called budget estimates. Budget estimates is an opportunity for Government and Opposition and crossbench members to ask questions of ministers and bureaucrats about government decisions. And last year, the government announced that they would be starting a trial or pilot of providing menstrual products in schools. Where that’s at? I'm certainly unclear at the moment and the fact that you've actually brought this Bill to the Y Parliament has jogged my memory on that, which is really useful. And as a result of all that I'll be asking the Minister for Women where the pilots are at, at the moment. So the government can make the decision to introduce pilots without having that legislation. However, if we as the opposition, because I'm in opposition, if the opposition wants to make change that we would always bring a Bill and that's the way that we try to push the government to take action.

Q: What's your proudest achievement in politics?

A: I think last year we dealt with sexual consent laws. And being the Shadow Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault there's been some pretty awful stories about sexual assault where there hasn't been affirmative consent provided. And the courts have been very strange in their decision-making on that. So the fact that we actually, as an opposition, worked with the government, and on that particular bill, they, the stakeholders, some of the stakeholders, not all of the stakeholders got everything they wanted in relation to the Bill. Some of the language that they wanted to see their Bill didn't get through, but I actually think that Bill is a really fantastic Bill and it's going to make life a lot different for a lot of sexual assault survivors.

Q: What is a topic you are personally really passionate about?

A: My electorate has a big population of people living in social housing. Right across the state, we're experiencing the housing crisis, the waitlist for people to get into social housing in New South Wales or particularly in my area is 10 years. And the social housing in my electorate is also 50, 60 years old. The houses have certainly outlived their, what would be their normal lifespan. So housing, social housing providing housing for people who really need it, particularly people who are leading domestic violence women, older women are experiencing homelessness that have at a higher rate. So hat's really something that I will have to continue. And I think as long as I'm the member, I'll be fighting for that. I don't think they'll ever be a proper solution. It is a huge problem, but we need to make some progress on it.

Q: Do you ever see the possibility of like genuine equality, especially in politics, and if so?

A: Certainly, I'm in Labor and the number of women in the Labour Party who are members of parliament is almost, almost equal, certainly also in Shadow Cabinet. We have a really strong representation of women. We're almost we're about at 50%. So I think we're getting there. We still do have a way to go, currently, we've got a review happening in New South Wales parliament in relation to bullying, sexual harassment. The review is actually asking MPs and MP staff and parliamentary staff what their experiences are because we've listened to what's happening at a federal level. And we're concerned that it might also be happening at a state level. It's not something that I've particularly experienced, thankfully, but I don't doubt that it will be happening somewhere in New South Wales Parliament. So until we get true equality, not just for women, but intersectionality is really important. And we need to address Parliament actually representing the constituency properly.

The Women’s Affairs Committee Debate at Youth Parliament 2021 has concluded.

Ella Feeney, Member for Charlestown, thanked Ms Harrison for her time.


1.39pm | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Speaker, Jodie Harrison, opens the floor to debate.

Josie Sims, Member for Hornsby, stressed that the Bill needs to make period products accessible to everyone, achieved by supporting the amendments. The member was in favour of allowing students to apply for the period packs at school, as it makes it easier for students.

Linh Le Do, Member for Lismore, took the opportunity to address some things the opposition had said. First addressing Indigo Lee-Wilson Member for Kuringai claim that all public bathrooms will have menstrual products. Mr Le Do was concerned that the vending machines would be vandalised and abused if left in public.

Caitlin Blanch, Member for Tamworth, posed a question to the Government regarding the dismissal of the amendment to allow students to fill applications at school. Pointing out that students who do not possess access to the internet will be excluded.

Lani Holfter, Member for Monaro, reiterated her favour for the amendments.

Connor Burke, Member for Mulgoa, questioned the opposition's lack of plan around ensuring the privacy of young people who want to access sanitary products at those schools.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon, failed to see the difference between the post office and schools and was in support of the amendments as he believed they offered more accessibility.

Deputy Premier Abbey Dawson, Member for Bega, brought awareness to the stigma and feelings of embarrassment some people have about having their period. The Member for Bega advised against the amendment to offer the period packs at school. The Deputy Premier took the opportunity to clarify again that the sanitary items would be available in all bathrooms, not just female and unisex.

Ella Feeney, Member for Charlestown, was in support of having the period packs at schools so that students “can receive dignity and go to school.”

Neera Bhatt, Member for Prospect, criticised the opposition's amendment to offer the packs at schools, as it will make the process more difficult for gender-diverse individuals who are uncomfortable applying in a schooling environment.

Victor Qin, Member for Mount Druitt, questioned the proposal of vending machines and the lack of measures to ensure people would be taking their fair share. He also believed the science and PDHPE syllabus already taught the purpose of menstruation and criticised the Bill for being too vague, not addressing how much additional education is required. The Member for Mount Druitt had concerns about the mandate for education to take place throughout years four to 10, with parents not having a say in what they wanted their children to learn about.

Sam Borgert, Member for Cowper, brought up young women who are being homeschooled or had disabilities and are unable to attend a school, with concerns for their eligibility for basic sanitation requirements.

Charlotte Hooper, Member for Wollondilly, clarified that the amendments proposed an addition to where they can get their period packs, alternative places as well as in schools and post offices.

A Fraser, Member for the Blue Mountains provided insight into the trans experience as a trans person. They shared “Assigned gender at birth is no one's business but a trans person themselves. And we don't want to have students who are trans and not out risk outing themselves or giving out private information by having to go to schools to get the products.” They also called out Victor Quinn, Member for Mount Druitt, who asked ‘how can we assure that people are not taking more than their fair share.' The Member for the Blue Mountains retorted by asking “What is their fair share? We have a right to sanitary products and all menstruators have felt the panic of not being prepared. They won't be taking more than they need.”

Noah Smith, Member for Pittwater, clarified that the opposition's amendment recommending that machines with free menstrual products be located outside public bathrooms is applied when there are no available gender-neutral bathrooms.

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst, highlighted the impact and importance of the Bill. Recognising that the Bill means the Government is providing free menstrual products in all public buildings, from shopping centres, government buildings, train stations and hospitals. Indicating as a Government and as the elected body that they respect the female menstrual cycle, are determined to provide access to the menstrual products that they need. He further explained that the Government want women to feel empowered and that they could freely access menstrual products without having to apply via their school, as the amendment suggests.

Daina Kerr, Member for Goulburn Mulwaree, criticised the Governments lack of confidence in successfully actioning the Bill.

Connor Burke, Member for Mulgoa exclaimed that the Government has the opportunity to end period poverty without the amendments. Stating “this bill would allow for the change required to end such a difficult time for so many people nationwide and also within New South Wales”. The Member for Mulgoa acknowledged the potential humiliation that some people feel with having the menstrual cycle and having to ask for products. He condemned the amendments for not thinking about the big picture.

Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon, explained that the opposition decision to include schools in the amendments was an addition to Post Offices and other government facilities. She pointed out that most young people are at school between 9 am to 3 pm and the post office opening hours are inconvenient for students. The Member for Barwon urged that we don’t disregard the importance of schools and teachers, sharing that there are students who are more comfortable confiding in teachers than their parents.

1.32pm | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Viven Van Luyt, Member for Heathcote, addressed amendments one and two. In addition to lodging applications for the program at post offices and online, she recommends that participants can reapply to the program at post offices and schools, making the program more accessible. She acknowledges that as a member of the Education Committee and as a public high school student there are shortcomings of the New South Wales syllabus, specifically the PDHP syllabus on sex and menstruation. The opposition suggests that an addition to the bills proposed, a dot point ensuring more detailed education about menstruation is added to the bill. Ms Van Luyt believed this amendment will allow students to see the value and importance of menstrual products, removing the stigma that unfortunately plagues period products and the topic of menstruation.

Indigo Lee-Wilson Member for Kuringai began by responding to the oppositions recommendation to have students apply for the period packs through their school. She was sceptical of schools’ ability to organise the packs and keep up to date records. Ms Lee-Wilson was concerned that students will be left out once an additional party is included in the application process. The government believes that having one universal online access point makes this program more accessible, and provides anonymity, unlike schools. The Member for Kuringai confirmed that the Bill would also cater for gender-neutral and transgender people. She confirmed that people can also get access to the period packs sent through the mail, which does not discriminate based on your gender. Ms Lee-Wilson provided real-life examples of young people who had to result to using socks in the absence of sanitary products. “Women and Girls should never have to create negative sanitary products in order for them to go about their day. However more than one in five menstruating Australians do.” she shared. She also pointed out that the state of Victoria has installed dispensing machines for period products at every government school, and South Australia and the ACT have also improved access within their jurisdiction. New South Wales, however, is falling behind. She explained “our failure to act can even lead to people dying from toxic shock syndrome because we are left in the realm of misogyny, sexism and a complete disregard for women's dignity, education and health. We didn't bring periods upon us and even more so be divided by who and who doesn't have access to sanitary products.” The Member for Kuringai expressed that the government has a duty to give women unrestricted access to the products we need to be safe and to not be ostracised from society. Further pointing out that this is not a question of whether we will have the funding or not, because funding isn't justification enough to not put toilet paper in or bathrooms. She concluded that all menstruating people are deserving of menstrual products.

The Speaker thanked The Member for Kuringai for her passionate contribution.

James Frost, Member for Oatley, pointed out that in some facilities gender-neutral bathrooms aren't available. The member proposed that in this circumstance, the available sanitary vending machines are moved to a common area where all who require menstrual products can access them. This amendment affords trans-men and non-binary people assigned female at birth, the same dignity that this bill gives to cisgender women and it is hence imperative that it be passed and incorporated. Mr James Frost expressed that amendment includes that sanitary vending machines will be placed in all-female, disabled and gender-neutral bathrooms and where a gender-neutral bathroom is not available. The vending machine should be placed such that is accessible by anyone.

1.20pm | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Ms Jodie Harrison MP Member for Charlestown, Shadow Minister for Women, Shadow Minister for Seniors and Shadow Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault has commenced the Women’s Affairs Debate with the Parliamentary Prayer and an Acknowledgement of Country.

The Premier, Indigo Lee-Wilson Ending introduced the debate to Ms Harrison. She summarised that the Bill is about ensuring that we end period poverty by providing anyone who was assigned female at birth with free sanitary products in all public buildings and schools.

Ariana Wang Member for Sydney has commenced the reading of the bill. The Bill is for An Act to Mandate Accessible Sanitary Products Across the State and Provide Adequate Education Regarding Menstruation.

Ariana Wang Member for Sydney began the debate by calling for support of the Bill. Speaking on behalf of the women in New South Wales, she called upon all members of the House to support the menstruation poverty and education equality Bill. Ms Wang spoke on behalf of women across New South Wales suffering because of something they can’t control. She attributed it to the lack of access to sanitary products, facilities, and menstrual hygiene, which disproportionally affects marginalised group such as the unemployed, homeless or displaced due to domestic violence. “People experiencing period poverty deserve better” she exclaimed. She explained that this will be achieved through the provision of free menstrual products through sanitary vending machines and New South Wales schools transport hubs and public facilities and period packs for school students. This will also be achieved through changes to the PDHP and mandatory science syllabi, to provide a greater awareness of and destigmatise the issues surrounding menstruation. The Member for Sydney acknowledged that bill expands upon the trial of free sanitary products currently existing in two pilot regions in New South Wales. She then discussed cause one of the government’s Bill, proposing that sanitary vending machines be mandated with free menstrual products distributed at all New South Wales schools, transport hubs and government-funded facilities such as schools and libraries. Period packs will also be provided to school students if required. This will aid people with the estimated $10,000 cost of menstrual products over a lifetime. This means those who suffer from menstral poverty will be guaranteed the fundamental human right for menstrual health, menstrual health care to stay healthy and maintain dignity. She proceeded to discus clause two of the Bill, proposing a comprehensive education awareness program, which will foster a greater understanding of menstruation. She concluded by calling on all members of the house to listen to the genuine calls of those suffering from the costs and stigma surrounding menstruation by giving them comfort dignity and basic human rights.

Daina Kerr, Member for Golburn Mulwaree, began by congratulating the Women's Affairs Committee on a well-constructed and cohesive Bill. She summarised that the Bill acknowledges over 1 million Australians live day to day in menstrual poverty due to financial constraints. She urged that the Bill ensure menstrual products are accessible to all Australians. She stated that the opposition would like to propose several amendments to the house, which amplify the bills ability to reduce stigma and period poverty alike. The first proposed amendment would allow students to also lodge applications through their own school, in addition to online services and post offices, allowing greater access to menstruation products. The Member for Golburn Mulwaree requested an additional sub-clause be added, wanting to address the instance where a gender-neutral bathroom is not available. Avoiding the exclusion of trans-men or gender diverse people.

Guinevere Fisher, Member for Reid, asked members to imagine themselves as a young woman having their period with no money for pads or tampons and asked if they would go to school in this scenario. She described that for many young women it prevents them from turning up to school, hindering their access to educational institutions and workplaces. She also stated that some families have to choose between buying food necessities and menstrual products of their families. The Member for Reid explained that the Bill intends to firstly mandate sanitary vending machines with free menstrual products, distributing them in communal bathroom areas of all-female disabled and gender-neutral bathrooms and all New South Wales religious public independent schools or primary secondary tertiary institutions, New South Wales transport hubs, New South Wales government-funded properties such as courts, libraries, companies and institutions, so that no person suffers in silence from the burden of menstrual poverty. She reiterated that this bill aims to foster a greater understanding of menstruation and its impact on women by implementing and enforcing a greater comprehensive menstrual education awareness for all students in New South Wales schools from the years four to 10. In this bill, the government asks that period packs be provided to people assigned female at birth from years four onwards including seven tampons, seven biodegradable pads, one menstrual cup two pairs of period underwear and educational pamphlets.

12.30pm | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Matter of Public Importance today for free tertiary education for highly skilled essential workers. Felix Faber is presiding.

Abbey Dawson, the Member for Bega and Deputy Premier is the first speaker to address the topic. Abbey Dawson believes the education support should be provided, but that essential workers should be contracted to complete a time of service in regional and rural areas. Not a new concept – the Defence Force provides free tertiary education in exchange for a contracted period of service.

Kaitlin Parish, Member for Rockdale, believes that the proposal will not address the issues in regional and rural New South Wales. Housing must be addressed.

11.10am | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Speaker, Hamani Tanginoa, calls the Leader of the House.

First speaker, Member for Murray, Paige Goudie calls for a better health system on mental health citing tragic suicide rates in regional and rural communities.

Caitlin Blanch, Member for Tamworth, speaks on the issue of discrimination and people living with disabilities. ‘Person first’ language should be used. Examples include accessible parking, rather than disabled parking.

Brooklyn Rullis, Member for Miranda – extension of the M6 motorway in the community of Miranda in Sydney’s southern suburbs will be at the decimation of green spaces. Tolls will also add financial burden to the community.

Kaitlin Parish, Member for Rockdale speaking on over 900 sexual assaults of children and young people. Speaks on this abuse taking place ‘in secrecy and silence’. Moves to ask for initiative and greater education on consent.

Abbey Dawson, Member for Bega the Deputy Premier speaks on a matter close to heart. Speaks on increase in fatal road accidents in regional New South Wales. Road safety needs reform.

Zaccary Lancaster, Member for Holsworthy states that January is a divisive time. Talks about the celebration of the past. Feels that people refuse to celebrate what Australia has achieved.

Cameron Last, Member for Ryde feels that there has been a great evil sweeping his electorate in terms of development. High-rise developments all for greed. The electorate is a target for the Commission of Sydney and by developers. “If we don’t act now, we may lose our great home.”

Caroline Sinn, Member for Ryde speaks on mental health. Speaks on the lack of access to professional mental health consultation. Mental health is still seen as taboo and is stigmatised.

Pedram Ali, Member for Cabramatta cites Rick Riordan quote: 'Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need.' Speaking on Fairfield Hospital and how rundown the facility is. No maternity ward, no MRIs, no electronic record-keeping system.

Connor Burke, Member for Mulgoa is speaking on the need for investment in rail infrastructure.

Paul Saillard, Member for Heathcote speaking on housing affordability. Speaks on the future hope of people being able to achieve their independence by gaining a home of their own will be a thing of the past.

Michael Piela, Member for Kiera, says the electorate needs to be considered as a central hub with investment in infrastructure.

Vivien van Luyt, Member for Heathcote speaking on the importance of Ethics education programs in schools.

Daina Kerr, Member for Goulburn speaks from the personal experience of her father being a prison officer, with exposure to violence and antisocial behaviour with no investment in mental health and support for prison officers.

James Frost, Member for Oatley, speaking on mental health at school – stating that more needs to be done to support young people. Talking on high suicide rates for young people.

Guinevere Finn, Member for Fisher speaking on the rich arts and culture capital in Australia. Wanting to ensure that investment in arts and culture in Australia.

Premier, Indigo Lee-Wilson, Member for Kuring-gai wants to see Australia Day replaced with a national Sorry Day.

Ariana Wang, Member for Sydney echoes the Premier’s thoughts here. States that changing the date of Australia Day from 26 January is necessary to move to Reconciliation.

This is further echoed by Ethan Floyd, Member for Cessnock.

Claire Oberdorfer, Member for Rockdale speaks further on the need to move the date for Australia Day.

Hunter Blunden, Member for Newcastle says that everyone wants to celebrate Australia Day but not at the cost of such pain to Aboriginal people. May 27, July 9, September 1 proposed.

Noah Smith, Member for Pittwater, also shares why Australia Day should be moved.

Josie Sims, Member for Hornsby, feels that Australia Day should represent a day of happiness for everyone who lives here – but it is a day of mourning for so many. States that Australia Day should be moved to the day that the Uluru Statement is signed.

Private Member Statements has concluded.

Big themes: moving Australia Day, mental health and investment in infrastructure.

10.40am | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Mr Alex Greenwich, MP, Member for Sydney has opened the floor to the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Youth Parliament for questions and answers so that our Youth Parliamentarians have the option to be inspired and learn from current leaders in parliament.

Q: What makes great leadership?

A: “I believe that leadership is about disappointing people at a rate that they can absorb.”

Most of leadership is about telling people something they don’t want to hear. Being patient, open minded, tolerant, setting expectations. If we look at the former Premier of NSW, she was delivering a lot of bad news on a daily basis, but she brought people with her.

Q: How do you define yourself as an Independent?

A: I’m in a very unique seat, it’s been held by Independents for a long time and that’s what my electorate wants. But job is to work with all of the parties, so I try to get along with all members of parliament. Has championed more of the controversial issues in a non-controversial way.

Q: What is your opinion on the Bill put forward by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Youth Parliament today?

A: I went to a private boys school where we have to wear pants, shirts and ties. The Member for Riverstone highlighted today the question of what it would have been like if one of the students had not identified as binary and male. It would have been challenging. We have to accept that people do not fit into the binary perceptions that existed in the 1950s and 1960s, and we are a more inclusive society. We need to let students wear what makes them feel comfortable. They should be able to freely express who they are through what they wear. Very open-minded on all of this stuff.

And with that, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Debate at Youth Parliament 2021 has concluded.

9.40am | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Member for Propsect, Neera Bhatt, starting the debate on the Bill. Points out the Bill calls for the removal of gender labelling on uniforms – promoting a non-binary division on choice so that individuals can make choices on the basis of comfort.

In response, the Member for the Upper Hunter, Samuel Barry points out the flaws and shortcomings of the Bill. States that the Government’s Bill is economically irresponsible. Calls for one supply chain providing uniforms to ensure economies of scale. Points out marginalisation of those of faith.

Linh Le Do, Member for Lismore, points out that uniforms should take into account the broad range of socio-economic profile of communities and that accessibility on this needs to be considered. Highlights that rural and regional communities are already at a disadvantage and the Bill proposes that uniforms be provided at key locations to streamline access. The recommendations of the Bill supports local businesses and parents.

Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon points out that the proposed framework needs refining on definitions and parameters. Agrees that comfort should be considered and agrees that cotton is a much-preferred option to synthetics (which create sensory discomfort), however the financial burden on schools would be too great for schools with less funding – which is why the responsibility should sit with the Department of Education.

A Fraser, Member for Blue Mountains points out that school is a place for education and that uniforms should allow students to be comfortable, included and safe. Religious garments should be incorporated in the same colour scheme or themes as school uniforms so that students don’t feel excluded for wearing religious garments. School already a place where sensory comfort is low on account of programming and environmental factors, and that uniforms should seek to alleviate this discomfort.

Lani Holfter, Member for Monaro states frankly: this Bill needs amendment. It is contradictory. Reinforces message that the framework for a uniform code and supply should be managed by the Department of Education. Asks how the costs will be covered for school? Points out additional financial stress the uniform code would place on family. Says bulk buying will not work and clothing pools do not work.

Speaker, Alex Greenwich, opens the floor to debate.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon opens. States simple issue with the Bill and proposed amendments: abolish uniforms. Points out that this is the solution in the United States. Promotes inclusion, choice and individual family choice on the affordability of clothing.

Premier, Indigo Lee-Wilson, Member for Kuring-gai points out that the Opposition is fixated on cost. Calls the Oppositions priority of finances over inclusion ‘disgusting’.

Josie Sims, Member for Hornsby questions the Government on what they plan to do with single sex schools. Highlights the point of a uniform is to reduce exclusion – it promotes a sense of belonging. Doesn’t see the code as financially feasible and doesn’t achieve its inclusivity aims. Takes issues with bulk buying proposal.

A Fraser, Member for Blue Mountains clarifies points the Opposition has raised. Points out that not everyone can afford clothing. Points out that dysphoria is very uncomfortable. Says that codes of behaviour on exclusion should be dealt with by the school – not the Government.

Linh Le Do, Member for Lismore, speaks on alternatives. Points out that the Bill highlights that students should be given the opportunity to wear alternatives – but it is not suggested that the school provides these options. Addresses that Lani Holfter, Member for Monaro, stating clothing pools are ineffective is ill founded – that’s down to education and promotion.

Caitlin Blanch, Member for Tamworth, feels that the funding invested in the framework should be put towards what schools should be doing: education.

Tahlia Barwick, Member for Tamworth, states that single sex schools still provide girls with the option of wearing trousers. States that all the framework recommends is that the labelling and terminology of uniform choices should be removed so that students can identify as they choose to.

Victor Quin, Member for Mount Druitt believes that the Bill is not as inclusive as it first appears. The unisex clause excludes binary identities. Believes that gender identification is as valid. The code should embrace both binary and non-binary choices.

Jordi Thurtell, Member for Orange echoes the Premier’s views – ‘Are students in schools not worth the money?’

Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon reiterates that the Opposition does not take issue that diversity should be promoted through a new code. They are questioning that bulk buying should not be the burden of the schools. Most schools in rural and regional areas won’t be able to fund this, and rural school students will need to travel to a central hub to access uniforms. Travel to purchase uniforms is also a financial burden for families. The Bill needs to be financially sustainable.

The Premier is up again.

The Member for Kuring-gai addresses three things: what would we do for a single sex school? Doesn’t see that it is a big deal or a budgetary issue – there are options. Girls wearing pants is not unfathomable. The Opposition also stated that it could be an option not to have a uniform – it’s not feasible for some families and individuals to afford to wear different clothes every day. Not having a uniform would also increase bullying likelihood. States that unisex does not mean non-binary – it’s for all sexes and genders. Removing the definitions of specific apparel as being a ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ uniform and simply providing the options for anyone to wear what they select to wear from the uniform options.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon: ‘Being comfortable should not come at a cost’ – which is what the Government is aiming to achieve. There are low cost retail outlets that allow families to make their choices.

Yuvraj Thakur, Member for Riverstone points out that he attends an all boys school. Has first-hand experience of a student at his school identifying non-binary and not being provided with the option to dress as such.

Samuel Barry, Member for Upper Hunter reinforces cost practicality, highlighting that a uniform for non-binary would account for one percent of the student population. The cost is too high to account for these ‘non conforming students’.

A Fraser, the Member for the Blue Mountains seeks to explain what the definition of ‘unisex’ means. Buying in bulk seeks to ensure economic sustainability of the code.

Claire Oberdorfer, Member for Rockdale enquires about the inclusivity of gender identity. Enquiring whether every all boys school should have a skirt available?

Abbey Dawson, Member for Bega and Deputy Premier had a question as to whether the Opposition has read the Bill – however, the Member for Upper Hunter answered the question.

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst highlights that this is a simple debate that the Opposition is overcomplicating – there are three things the chamber needs to consider. The first amendment, the quota will only be instituted when more than 50 percent of the student body needs to be provided with additional or culturally-specific items. The second point – the issue of cost – the Government cannot understand why the Opposition has a blatant disregard that cost is not an issue. The Government already provides funding to all state and independent funding to schools. It is not an issue of cost, it is about providing a safe and comfortable space for students to attend school.

Josie Sims, Member for Hornsby: The Bill states that there will be a range of uniforms – yet the Government is saying they’re only changing the labelling on uniforms. Secondly highlights that it is impossible for the bulk buying to work. In single sex schools – the issue is not uniforms: it’s the school itself.

Sam Borgert, Member for Cowper. Sees this framework as addressing comfort, however says that students have been horrible to each other for generations. Uniforms do not solve this.

Connor Burke, Member for Mulgoa ‘all schools will have uniforms’. The Government simply wants options for all. “The Bill was never about cost and the Opposition is all about cost and not the true principle.”

Brooklyn Rullis, Member for Miranda fails to see why the Government would not seek a more financially viable option.

Speaker, Alex Greenwich moves to the Amendment phase.

The ayes have it.

Opposition moves that the amendments be tabled and agreed to.

Division is required. Ring the bells, shut the door.

27 ayes and 28 no.

Resolved in the negative.

Member for Tamworth called to exercise right of reply.

Tahlia Barwick speaks, and moves that the Bill be read a third time.

Speaker reminds everyone that this is a conscience vote.

Speaker believes the ayes have it.

Division is required.

35 ayes, 16 no.

The result of the final decision is that the motion is resolved in the affirmative.

Speaker vacates the chair.

Member for Sydney, Mr Alex Greenwich MP thanks the Youth Parliamentarians for their contribution to the debate and congratulates everyone for getting the Bill passed.

9.31am | Tuesday 18 January 2021

Good morning!

And we’re kicking off this morning with the Diversity and Inclusion – and we’re joined by Mr Alex Greenwich MP, Member for Sydney.

The debate on Diversity and Inclusion Committee debate has kicked off, and the debate today is on a framework for an inclusive uniform code in schools.

The reading of the Bill has commenced, with Tahlia Barwick, Member for Tamworth outlining the key aspects of the Bill: that is a uniform code that is gender neutral, comfortable and inclusive for all religious and faith choices.

In opposition to the Bill, Sonisha Nagra, Member for Oxley has addressed the contradictions and inconsistencies of the Bill and looks for amendments on the basis that it would not be feasible for individual schools to address and it should be a matter for the Department of Education. The Member for Oxley said the strain this would put on individual state schools would be ‘monumental’. Points out the opportunity for the Department of Education to take the opportunity to overhaul the school uniform to create a ‘uniform for all’.

16.00pm | Monday 17 January 2021

And that’s a close on our live blog from the debates for today. We’ll be back tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for reading today and for Youth Parliament for such terrific and engaging debates.

3.50pm | Monday 17 January 2021

Member for Coogee, Dr Marjorie O’Neill MP acknowledges that everyone has done great in the debate and how different and hard it is to run a parliamentary debate virtually.

Abbey Dawson, Deputy Premier has asked a question to Dr O’Neill about COVID and the impact in Parliament.

Dr O’Neill says the biggest shift will see flexibility in the workplace. Because of the ramifications of Public Health Orders, there are less people in the Chamber at Question Time and the use of technology has completely changed things. It’s also meant that the public haven’t been allowed in – and it’s always great to have people in the debate and participating.

A question from the floor: Was the debate today of Parliamentary standard. Dr O’Neill says yes (well done Youth Parliamentarians).

Why did Dr O’Neill get into Parliament?

Dr O’Neill comes from a family where the philosophy is ‘roll your sleeves up, don’t complain, fix it if it needs fixing’. Equality and fairness were the big things that drove Dr O’Neill to get into Government - education access and Climate Change are big drivers. There are big drivers for change – COVID, huge increase in domestic violence in some areas of Dr O’Neill’s electorate there has been a 120% increase in domestic violence. The one thing that Dr O’Neill wasn’t prepared for was media scrutiny.

Favourite thing to do as a politician? End of year school awards! I’m fifth generation Eastern Suburbs so representing my community when it’s part of my DNA – that’s amazing.

Great moments? My first speech was a pretty remarkable moment, and great moments on public transport where we’ve had a couple of thousand people turn up to watch you debate.

Big pieces of legislation? Decriminalisation of abortion and consent for dying.

How will domestic violence issues be addressed? Well, as a country it is an issue that impacts all of Australia. Firstly, we need to address the underlying issue – there’s a separate and uneven weight on ‘women’s work’. There’s pay inequality, even in women’s sport. There are sociological and economic issues that drive domestic violence in Australia. And consent education has a big part to play in this. Women and victims of domestic violence need to have places to go. But it is complex, and it won’t be changed overnight.

And that’s the end of the Aboriginal Affairs Committee Debate for Youth Parliament 2021.

Great debate!

3.46pm | Monday 17 January 2021

The Member for Cessnock states how proud that Bill should go forward.

Conscience vote = division is required.

Voting has closed.

37 ayes / 11 no.

The motion is resolved in the affirmative, and the Bill is passed.

3.43pm | Monday 17 January 2021

24 ayes / 26 no.

Therefore, the question of the amendment is resolved in the negative.

Member for Cessnock called to exercise their right of reply.

3.42pm | Monday 17 January 2021

And voting on the Bill has commenced.

3.36pm | Monday 17 January 2021

The Youth Premier, Indigo Lee-Wilson has fired back at the Opposition with gusto.

3.34pm | Monday 17 January 2021

Debate is continuing – and getting fiery!

3.23pm | Monday 17 January 2021

We’ve just had a call for a point of order squashed!

3.10pm | Monday 17 January 2021

Floor now opened for debate by the Speaker, Dr Marjorie O’Neill.

Noah Smith, Member for Pittwater: This Bill aims to reconnect Aboriginal young people with their culture and I think it’s important for non-Indigenous people to learn about Aboriginal culture so that we can work together to a better multicultural future. This Bill should prioritise Aboriginal people, and pass without amendment.

Indigo Lee-Wilson, Premier and Member for Kuring-gai: Highlights that Aboriginal young people will feel that if non-Indigenous young people are not learning about Aboriginal culture that it is not valued. Premier highlights that the Opposition has stated that eventually all young people will be educated, but the Premier emphatically stated that it was not good enough.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon: Is arguing that the Government can’t be trusted anymore – they’ve had the opportunity to help Indigenous youth, and they’ve failed. It’s time for a shift.

Abbey Dawson, Member for Bega: States that the Bill is welcomed but only if it is inclusive of both Aboriginal young people and non-Indigenous young people.

Josie Sims, Member for Hornsby: Refuting the premise that Aboriginal NGOs wouldn’t put the money towards their own cause.

3.10pm | Monday 17 January 2021

Dr Marjorie O’Neill, Member for Coogee has commenced the Aboriginal Affairs Committee Debate with an acknowledgement of country.

2.40pm | Monday 17 January 2021

Dr Marjorie O’Neill, Member for Coogee has commenced the Aboriginal Affairs Committee Debate with an acknowledgement of country.

Discussion has commenced on mandatory framework for Aboriginal education for young people in juvenile detention and incarcerated.

Member for Cessnock, Ethan Floyd: Has delivered an eloquent statement about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are disproportionately represented as young offenders and reoffenders. Contents of the Bill align with the Closing the Gap Strategy: education of children, greater connection with language and cultural identity. In essence, the Bill outlines that connection with culture and heritage will break the cycle of over-representation of Aboriginal young people in juvenile detention and reoffending. The Member for Cessnock’s speech is as follows:

“Madam Speaker; in April of 1770 Captain James Cook landed in Kamay Bay and, armed with the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’, planted the Union Jack in sovereign Dharawal land. Over the coming years, more than 162,000 convicts were shipped to this country. Australia was founded by the British with one clear purpose - to create a prison colony.

And, believe it or not Madam Speaker, we’ve continued to be one ever since. We are fewer than three percent of the Australian population and yet we are 25 percent, a quarter of those Australians locked up in our prisons and for juveniles, it is worse, it is 50 percent. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare acknowledges that, in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are disproportionately represented in the NSW youth justice system.

A lack of cultural connection and engagement has been identified as a principal cause of youth offending and reoffending among the young Indigenous population. Our Bill contains provisions for a cultural immersion and discovery framework, which aims to boost Indigenous young people’s knowledge and understanding of their own heritage and history. The provisions outlined in this Bill must be passed by conscience vote this afternoon in order to lift young Indigenous people out of this cycle and to change these statistics.

Madam Speaker; my younger brother is twelve years old, he’s just about to commence high school, and yet statistically he is more likely to be locked up than he is to graduate. Madam Speaker; if that figure alone doesn’t make you sick to your stomach, here is something that might. Every morning, an average of 12,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children across Australia wake up behind the bars of juvenile prisons. Young people live out their childhood in juvenile detention centres, hundreds of kilometres away from their families. Mothers, fathers, aunties and uncles watch on as the deaths of their babies play out in courtrooms. To criminologists these are statistics. To us they are mothers, fathers, uncles, aunties, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. These numbers have names and faces.

Make no mistake, Madam Speaker; we are prisoners on our own land. Any sign of legitimate progress for our people is punctuated by relentless and stone-walled resistance by the state. The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991 made some progress, but every subsequent government has neglected to act on the recommendations given.

Through the comprehensive framework outlined in our Bill, we hope to learn from and overcome this recurring lesson in Australian political history. Every time we are lured into the light we are mugged by the darkness of this country’s history, and that makes us afraid. It’s the same fear that I have seen in my mother, that she inherited from her father, and he from both of his parents. When I was younger it used to make me feel sick, physically ill in the pit of my stomach. It was a fear of what could touch us - the sense of powerlessness, of being at the mercy of the intrusion of the police or the welfare officers who enforced laws that enshrined our exclusion and condemned us to jails. It was a heavy hand that made people tremble. I still see it in my mother. I see it as she tenses up just at the sight of a police car. She has done nothing wrong. But when she is pulled over for something as routine as a random breath test her heart beats faster and she fumbles her keys.

We fear the state, and we have every reason to: the state was designed to scare us.

And so, Madam Speaker; this is what our Bill is about. At its simplest and most base level, the piece of legislation which our committee has spent this past year developing will ensure that not another young Indigenous person in this state or in this country will feel that same fear that I, and hundreds of thousands of people like me, have carried with us our entire lives.

The objectives of this Bill align in parallel with the targets outlined in the ‘National Agreement on Closing the Gap, 2019’, and the subsequent ‘Closing the Gap’ strategy. Principal among these shared goals is the outcome of ‘improving mainstream institutions’.

In regard to the Closing the Gap strategy, the targets which this Bill aims to address most directly focus on the education of children, cultural and linguistic understanding, and overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the criminal justice system. On a broader scale, targets which focus on jobs and cultural identity, will also be addressed in this bill. The Honourable Members present today will hear from members of my committee about why exactly this Bill is so significant.

Madam Speaker; you will hear The Honourable Claire Oberdorfer, The Honourable Hunter Blunden, The Honourable Josie Sims, and the Honourable Charlotte Hooper advocate fiercely for this Bill, and explain not only the significant reach and effect this legislation will have, but the powerful and impactful message it will send to other states within Australia, and countries around the world; that this story needs to be told, and that it’s time to put our state’s and our nation’s juvenile justice system should be put on trial.

Summarily, the objectives of this Bill are concerned with; the mandation of cultural education in juvenile detention centres, thus encouraging an increase in cultural connection and understanding; the correction of inherent intergenerational disadvantages; the reversal of the disengagement with culture experienced by Indigenous young peoples in detention; and meeting the specific targets contained within the ‘National Agreement on Closing the Gap’ and the subsequent ‘Closing the Gap’ strategy.

Madam Speaker; I remember earlier today our guest Susannah Le Bron giving thanks to Hamani Tanginoa for his Acknowledgement of Country. She said “it’s important that we take a moment to stop and pause”, however I believe she left out a crucial third step in that statement. While stopping and pausing is important, it means nothing if we don’t then move forward and take action. Honourable Members, when you vote today, vote in favour of this Bill. Make your votes count and your voices heard. Be a part of this movement, help to break the cycle of recidivism which so many of our young Indigenous people are trapped in, and make a positive change in the lives of thousands of young and at-risk Indigenous people.’

Michael Piela, Member for Kiera: ‘The best solution might not be politically convenient’. States that there is no oversight in giving this responsibility to NGOs – feels its writing a blank cheque with no oversight or scrutiny. Amendment has highlighted that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people should have education on Aboriginal culture. Noted it’s important that some non-Indigenous people may not know if they are Indigenous or not.

The debate is exploring these two opposing views.


2.35pm | Monday 17 January 2021

First Question time has finished.

And – the next Bill debate is ready to commence at 2.40pm for the Aboriginal Affairs Committee Debate.

2.28pm | Monday 17 January 2021

Michael Piela, Member for Keira: Aboriginal Affairs should properly take care of the Aboriginal Affairs Bill, not NGOs that have no oversight.

Jayden Delbridge, Member for Wyong: I was accused of not being in a regional are, when I am.

Samuel Barry, Opposition Leader: We should have edited our Bill more clearly and we should have made it more clear that major cities should be defined as Greater Sydney, which does encompass the Central Coast and would have defined Newcastle as a non-regional area.

14.00 | Monday 17 January 2021

And we’ve kicked off question time with Youth Parliamentarian, Zoe Davis.

The Leader of the Opposition, Samuel Barry, is about to start speaking.

Abbey Dawson, Member for Bega: Do you have trust in the Government trust to run the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Bill, and why have you given power to the NFPs?

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ethan Floyd: That decision was made in relation to the organisation having a strong understanding of Aboriginal affairs, and a deeper knowledge and understanding of Indigenous communities.

Josie Sims, Member for Hornsby: How will the Bill help reduce incarceration rates for Aboriginal youth?

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ethan Floyd: The Bill aims to rectify the root cause – greater youth engagement with Aboriginal culture.

Zaccary Lancaster, Member for Holsworthy: Why is it that the Opposition has handed power to NGOs in Aboriginal incarceration.

Samuel Barry, Opposition Leader: These non-governmental organisations have been proven effective and invite Ethan Floyd to comment.

Campbell Quintrell, Member for Barwon: Question on housing accessibility to the Youth Minister on regional and rural housing.

Lani Holfter, Member for Monaro: I thank Campbell Quintrell for his question and we believe that larger areas like Wollongong and Newcastle are larger and are given greater priority in terms of money because of their larger population.

Connor Burke, Member for Mulgoa: Can you confirm that your program will not discriminate against people who move from regional NSW into metropolitan areas for study? And for people completing longer studies?

Lani Holfter, Member for Monaro: The way we designed the Bill, we put a lot of consideration into alternatives and thought about the different government organisations. The Bill was for regional and rural communities, so it would be stopped if young people moved from regional and rural areas because there are other initiatives to support young people in urban areas.

11.30 | Monday 17 January 2021

The Y NSW Youth Parliament Regional and Rural Affairs Committee Debate has just kicked off. The special guest speaker for the debate is Julia Finn, Member for Granville and Shadow Minister for Sport and Shadow Minister for Youth.

Ms Finn pointed out that housing is a key issue for regional New South Wales. There is also the issue where internet connection can be very poor, and people have needed to move away from the regions in which they grew up to work – but COVID has upended that.

We’ve captured some of the highlights of the debate here.

Lani Holfter-Monaro commenced reading the Bill, and highlighted that regional areas already face significant disadvantages and housing is yet another challenge if house prices keep rising.

The Bill focuses on three issues:

  • Land value tax: an annual tax paid by homeowners.
  • Crisis housing
  • Subsidies

Pointing out that people will increasingly be forced to leave regional areas, which depletes tourism, agriculture and commercial trade.

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst then refutes.

Stating the Bill doesn’t provide genuine support for young people across regional New South Wales. Significant amendments are needed. The classification on the age group eligible for rent subsidies. This change would ensure the Bill is relevant into the future.

Subsidy calculation is also a concern. There are consistency issues, and changing to a calculation based on income would provide support for all people across regional, rural and metropolitan New South Wales.

The practical implementation requires clarity. There should be a taskforce:

  • Calculating the number of people homeless.
  • Communicating with regional and rural communities.
  • Writing reports to the Government regarding policy, and progress on the implementation of the Bill.

I would like to advocate for the passing of the Bill, but with the amendments recommended.

Euan Osten, Member for Bega highlighted that income growth regionally and rurally is far outstripped by the cost of housing in these areas.

Kiara Hearne, Member for Bankstown, reinforced the issues raised by Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst.

Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon. Proposing a ‘Young People’s Rental Assistance Subsidy’ for the ages 16 – 25. This timeframe covers the period of life when young people are likely to be studying.

‘Stamp duty is crippling’ – Samuel Barry, Member for the Upper Hunter. ‘A terrible stain on the already hard times young people are facing’.

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst highlights that a new classification is required to update the system. What needs to be taken into consideration is that the Bill lacks consistency with other classifications that exist in other legislation and systems that exist.

Josie Sims, Member for Hornsby: Government is failing to understand that someone’s income shouldn’t determine what subsidy someone should get because some people may have significant savings. If we measure it twice a year means there will be more accuracy. It should be a transitional program, but two years isn’t enough. The reduction in the timeframe in which people can have the subsidy is undermined by the extension to the age of 30. It needs to be limited to a younger age when people need it most.

Jayden Delbridge, Member for Wyong: Speaks on the value of the Taskforce – a team of professionals to guide the Government through providing better regional and rural housing. The Government is trying to mend the issues of our society so we can create a better society.

Samuel Barry, Member for Upper Hunter: You can’t solve new problems with old systems. The taskforce will not be efficient or effective. Dealing with the housing crisis with fiscal measures will be more timely. The standard length of a university degree is four years long, not 1.5, and the last year of university is the time when you need to focus more. People will be left high and dry.

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst: What we are doing as a Government is providing foundation support. We’re not signalling to youth in regional and rural areas is that we’re going to give them money for housing for four years through university. We want to provide transitional support to provide funds and assistance for affordable housing, but we don’t want young people to become dependent. Housing stress is a pertinent issue in New South Wales – it’s not just young people, it’s older citizens. People aged 21 to 30 need the assistance that helps people from 16 to 21. Initial and interim support for a kickstart, not a dependency subsidy.

Linh Le Do, Member for Lismore: Does the Rural and Regional Committee not consider people under the age of 30 young?

Annabelle Shannon, Member for Barwon: This Bill has been created with regional and rural youth, for regional and rural youth. We use classifications provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and we have determined which regions need to be focused on. By 25 an individual will be able to support themselves, either through other Government subsidies or through income via work. We want to focus on 16 to 25 because they are the most vulnerable. This is usually the time of undertaking higher education. Taskforces will just be a further bureaucratic burden.

Tahlia Barwick, Member for Tamworth: Rather than looking to the Australian Bureau of Statistics we should look at the shifting nature of what is classified as a regional and rural area. We need a Taskforce that is directly linked to ensure that money and resource is not being wasted. This is a leg up, not ongoing support – so we recommend that it is for two years, not four years.

Indigo Lee-Wilson, Member for Kuring-gai: The opposition doesn’t think that this should apply for people who are 30 years of age. It takes six years to pay off your HECS debt and not everyone achieves employment once they graduate. We feel that this is neglectful. It’s also neglectful of people who study for longer than this. The opposition fails to acknowledge that degrees last longer than four years or post-graduate degrees. These people will go into cyclical poverty as soon as they turn 25.

Campbell Quintrell, Member from Barwon: I live in Broken Hill – I live in regional and rural New South Wales. The Bill should be passed, but without the Taskforce. Young people are already challenged technologically because of poor internet connection – it will only make things harder for them. It won’t help anyone while they’re going through university, TAFE and apprenticeships – the Bill should be passed with no amendments.

A Fraser, Member for the Blue Mountains: The opposition fails to realise that many people move back to their regional area after university. So it should stand until 30.

Indigo Lee-Wilson, Member for Kuring-gai: Contesting Campbell Quintrell. Not a question of funding – the Government has the funding to do this, and it is immoral not to take care of young and vulnerable. Because it’s a minority, we don’t need that much funding.

Abbey Dawson, Member for Bega: Question for the opposition – why do you think that other regional areas like Newcastle aren’t as much in need as others. I will be moving to Wollongong later this year and it is not fair that they don’t have the same opportunity. I’d like the opposition to define how they will make it equal for all youth.

Open debate closes.

Pratham Gupta, Member for Wakehurst: Moves report be considered in detail.

Division required.

The negatives have it.

Right of reply:

Lani Holfter, Member for Monaro: Reiterates the importance of the Bill. Asking that smaller towns are considered and that the Bill be read a third time.

Conscience vote.

Division required.

Ayes have it. Motion resolved in the affirmative.

The first Bill debate for 2021 Youth Parliament is complete.

Julia Finn concluded the session by addressing the Youth Parliamentarian, stating that she enjoyed hearing the various views. Ms Finn pointed out that housing affordability in regional and rural areas is very challenging for young people, including rental properties. There are housing shortages or the housing is in poor quality. Property price increases have also made it prohibitive for young people in rural and regional areas – particularly saving for the initial deposit.


10.35 | Monday 17 January 2021

David Harris responded to a request from Youth Parliamentarians for tips on how to overcome nerves and feeling anxious as an MP – he advised that it is natural to be nervous and healthy, that’s the adrenaline. He said if you’re strong in your convictions and can share relatable stories, that’s great.

Jonathan O’Dea advised youth parliamentarians to imagine that they’re talking to one really friendly person and in doing that, smile. It relaxes you and helps convey a sense of confidence and ease in delivery.

10.35 | Monday 17 January 2021

David Harris responded to a request from Youth Parliamentarians for tips on how to overcome nerves and feeling anxious as an MP – he advised that it is natural to be nervous and healthy, that’s the adrenaline. He said if you’re strong in your convictions and can share relatable stories, that’s great.

Jonathan O’Dea advised youth parliamentarians to imagine that they’re talking to one really friendly person and in doing that, smile. It relaxes you and helps convey a sense of confidence and ease in delivery.

Jodie Harrison advised that nerves are natural when you’re starting out, but the more confident you become and when you really believe what you have to say it gets easier and easier.

10.28 | Monday 17 January 2021

Jodie Harrison was asked what her favourite thing is in politics. She said it is definitely meeting with community groups. In her capacity for shadow ministry, she also finds it very rewarding working with organisations within those spaces.

10.25 | Monday 17 January 2021

To the Speaker of the House, Jonathan O’Dea was asked what the craziest behaviour was that he has witnessed in the chamber – he said it was when someone has been asked to leave the Chamber and doesn’t want to. He is charged with the responsibility of making sure that there is orderly and respectful debate.

10.23 | Monday 17 January 2021

In Q&A with Youth Parliamentarians, Y NSW Chair, Prue Warrilow pointed to listening as the key to leadership.

10.19 | Monday 17 January 2021

Susannah Le Bron in Q&A with young parliamentarians that from age 11 to 21 were the formative years in her wanting to work with young people and lead in that space.

She said what she particularly enjoys working is what happens behind the scenes.

9.45am | Monday 17 January 2021

In Q&A, Zoe Robinson spoke of the position she is coming from. She said the point of debating is to learn and grow. She said she wouldn’t personally debate a view that she didn’t hold or didn’t research thoroughly.

She pointed to her advocacy work against the Death Penalty in Texas, so she would find it challenging to debate a topic she didn’t personally agree with. It’s fair thing to be able to say that.

When I was 10, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer but then decided I was a terrible lawyer – so from then on, it was all about learning. So I say yes to the role and then figure it out, I don’t go for title – I go for where I can make a difference with people. I also have been inspired by great leadership.

On the current state of youth engagement within policy making, Zoe Robinson said it was looking really good – there are many organisations that are putting young people on their boards and openly wanting to hear from and engage with young people.

9.45am | Monday 17 January 2021

Now hearing from Mr Chris Minns, MP, NSW Leader of the Opposition direct from Parliament House in Sydney and wishing the young people participating could be on the floor of the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Minns acknowledged how the Youth Parliament program has been going for two decades and has contributed directly to shaping policy and legislation.

“A good argument, executed with passion and belief, can sway a crowd,” Mr Minns said.

Parliamentary debate and the Westminster system – we need to cherish it, and we need people to participate in it.

Mr Minns urged young people to get involved in politics – don’t believe the cynics. Politics works, but we need young people to inform the debate, to play a role in policy development, to participate in Council, stand for office: we need active and engaged young people. The issues now are really acute – we need your participation and contribution.


9.45am | Monday January 2021

Now we’re hearing from Indigo Lee-Wilson, Youth Premier.

In thanking Zoe Robinson, the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People said: ‘A lot of the time, young people’s opinions – especially political opinions – are easily dismissed’ – pointing out it is vital that young people’s voices are heard.

Indigo thanked her fellow participants. Indigo said she’s been involved in debating since she was in Year 6 and loves that every person in the program is deeply invested and the debate. Youth Parliament is important because it immerses young people in the democratic process, but also gives a diverse representative group of young people across the state to come together.

Youth Parliament allows young people to have a chance to shape policy and wants the program to been an everlasting program so future generations of young people have the chance to have a voice.


9.45am | Monday 17 January 2021

Now hearing from Zoe Robinson, the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People and sharing her journey to this role.

Commencing with inspiration from ‘minds greater than mine’: google the people who said them and learn more about them, but they’re not just relevant because I say they’re relevant.

  • “If we follow the rules we’ve always followed, the game will remain the same.  Old ways of thinking will never help us build a new world.  Out with the Old.  In with the New”,  Abby Wambach.
  • “…I would celebrate the ensuring years by embracing the toll they’d take on me.  That I would aspire to become the rusted-out hot rod, no matter how many jump-starts I might require along the way.  Not everything needs a shine, after all,”  David Grohl.
  • “When you make it, the job gets harder,” Triple H

Now some of those people might requiring googling by a few of you and I picked those quotes for two reasons: I want you to google the people who said them and learn a little about them; but also they are relevant to who they are relevant to, not because I say they are a relevant.

My point is this, it is 2022 and you have lived through two of the weirdest years in history. But you also live in a generation where technology is front and centre, where fashion is different to mine and importantly where you will challenge leadership and power like no one else. Please do that. Please keep holding those in positions of leadership accountable – now more than ever. Not because I think leaders are getting things wrong, or right, nor because I am trying to be political, but it is because it is how we learn and how we grow as an individual (firstly) and then as a community. By asking questions, by having respectful and challenging conversations and by listening, caring and learning together.

That is how I think I was appointed as the youngest ever NSW Advocate for Children and Young People, and what I now understand as the youngest nationally. I am proud of that. The reason however I got this job is because I have spent time listening to, learning from and caring for other people. My path is a path that I have been fortunate to pave, unpave, stumble through and walk down. Your path is yours and I want you to own it. The good, the bad and the ugly. It is what makes us human, and it is what makes you unique, and is the reason I want to listen to and learn from you.

My mum would want me to say it was because of my degree. I did those degrees because I loved law, and I wanted to learn. I wanted to know how I could help others. I wasn’t a good lawyer. I worked in youth homelessness, because I truly believe every young person should have a safe place to live, should be loved and should have access to whatever it is that gives them hope and purpose.  I worked at Department of Premier and Cabinet because I thought being closer to the centre of government would mean I could make a difference. But I was asked to step into this role because I had met with, listened to and genuinely invested in people. I do not want to downplay the effort, energy and work I put into my studies and work. But I also do not want to lecture a generation of amazing young people about a world that is completely different to the one that I started my career in.

You are all the things that us adults say about you. You are absolutely resilient, adaptable, brave and bold.  As I reflect on the experiences I have, the people I meet and work with every day and what I have learnt not just in my job, but in being a parent, a friend, a colleague, a daughter and sister, a person who has experienced grief, and joy, and boredom and depression, happiness and challenges – I want to make this very clear. You matter. Your experiences matters. Your feelings matter. Your joy matters.  How you treat people matters.  It is not up to me to define that for you, but it is my place to create space for you to be you. Leadership is about knowing when to stand up, and when to stand back and create space for others. That is what this experience is about for you…but it is also about what you do next and how you take this and create space for others.

People in government, business and all organisations that serve you, need to hear from you more, we need to understand and genuinely implement policy and practices that serve you best. That is what we have learnt in the past two years. That we are still not listening with both ears, that we are not including you in the conversations well and that we are responsive, not inclusive.

Whoever is your Abby, David and Triple H let them inspire you, but never forget that you inspire others.  Take what you can from the leaders around you, but remember leadership comes in many forms and for me it starts with listening and how you treat others.

9.40am | Monday 17 January 2021

Holly Mack sharing her experiences of Youth Parliament and sharing her experience as being the Youth Governor for 2021 – stating how proud she is of the young people participating today.


9.25am | Monday 17 January 2021

We’re hearing from the Y NSW CEO, Susannah Le Bron, who is also the Y Australia’s National Advocate for Youth Employment.


9.15am | Monday 17 January 2021

Great to be here at the 2021 Youth Parliament Opening Ceremony.

We’ve got a great line up of VIP guest speakers joining us today:

NSW Advocate for Children and Young People, Zoe Robinson; NSW Leader of the Opposition, Chris Minns; and our very own CEO, Susannah Le Bron. Of course also Indigo Lee-Wison, Youth Premier.

The ceremony has opened with a wonderful Welcome to Country from Hamani Tanginoa.


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