Youth Governor Caitlin Meyer opens the YMCA Youth Parliament for 2016, as captured by Dani Rothwell:
On today’s rainy Melbourne morning, the YMCA Youth Parliament of Victoria officially opened.
And it’s never been a more exciting time for Youth Parliament: 2016 marks the program’s 30th anniversary, and the federal election is right around the corner.
The Youth Parliament program enables youth around Victoria to draft and debate bills on topics they are passionate about within the Chambers of Parliament.
Bills that pass Youth Parliament are then given to the relevant Victorian minster to probe.
The historic Chambers of the Legislative Council are juxtaposed with the fresh, young faces of this year’s Youth Parliament participants – a fitting way to commemorate the program’s 30th year.
The Minister for Families and the Minister for Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos said: “The opening of any Westminster style of parliament such as this one is filled with history and tradition dating back many hundreds of years.”
Across its 30 years, bills passed by Youth Parliament has laid the foundations for more than 25 pieces of Victorian Legislation, such as enforcing mandatory bike helmets, nightclub safety reformation and the legal recognition of carers for disabled people.
The program has amassed an alumnus of more than 3000 people, all passionate about change in their communities and beyond.
Youth Parliament provides a valuable forum for our youth to voice their concerns and passions, and more importantly, to be heard.
YMCA Chair of the Board Anthea Hancocks said Youth Parliament shows youth can have a voice at the highest levels of decision making in our communities.
“The principle of youth empowerment remains at the core of the Youth Parliament program because it is the core of the YMCA, as it is to all political parties and politicians,” Ms Hancocks said.
“You are our future leaders,” she said.
Youth Parliament looks hopefully into the future as well as reflecting on the past.
Shadow Minster for Young Victorians Stephanie Ryan hopes the Youth Parliament program will cause more young people to get involved with politics.
“Youth Parliament is a catalyst to see more young people perhaps putting their hand up for their community, and perhaps to one day sit here, in the Victorian Parliament.”
The 2016 Victorian Youth Governor Caitlin Meyer concluded the ceremony by reconciling both the past, present and future of Youth Parliament.
She said in the program’s 30 years, recurring issues have created a “chorus” of youth, urging the community to hear the issues important to them.
Ms Meyer equips the participants with the power to shape the future.
She manifested the mantra: “you are not alone, you are not alone, you are not alone.”
Youth Parliament will be sitting on the 27th, 28th and 30th of June.