The voices of Horsham have been heard at State Parliament earlier this week, with six students participating in the YMCA’s Victorian Youth Parliament program.
The young parliamentarians participated alongside approximately 120 other young people from all over the state.
As a group, the students presented a bill to increase support for veterans and the wide-ranging problems involved, which need to be addressed.
They did this in terms of its effects on themselves, on young people, and on people from rural areas, addressing the issues surrounding counselling services, housing and job resources.
“I suppose the more we researched, the more we realised there is actually a demand for that kind of thing,” the team said.
“It does affect some of us or most of us, having people who, in our families, who have served in the army, and being from rural areas, there’s just a lot of people that we see that have come from the ADF.”
The students, aged between 16 and 18, are from Horsham Secondary College, and entered the program under the school’s name.
“It makes us feel like we can actually achieve change, like we actually have the power to do it, rather than try and to have no one take us seriously.” The group said.
“It’s a really powerful platform, because there’s definitely under-representation for youth, and then this program is kind of just giving the confidence boost to put your hand up.”
Their bill, titled Increasing Veterans Support Bill 2016, passed a vote on Monday.
“It may not be what Victoria wants, but it is what Victoria needs.” Angus McDonald, from the Horsham group, said during the debate.
From here, the bill will be passed on to corresponding State government ministers to look at, after the Youth Parliament program has ended. In the program’s 30-year history, over 25 such bills have been passed.