Students from the Mater Christi College in Belgrave tabled a Bill to the Youth Parliament of Victoria on Thursday afternoon.
The Bill, titled Re-Categorising Dyslexia as a Disability in Victorian Schools Bill 2017, successfully passed through the Youth Parliament. However, it wasn’t without its controversy and significant debate.
The Bill centred around the need to assist parents of children with dyslexia, who often have to pay for extra teaching services and support out of their own pocket.
“379,823 is the number of families who do not receive any assistance for any support they may need to provide for their children,” the Bill’s sponsor Ms Saasha Burby said when introducing the Bill.
“Parents are forced to pay out of their own money due to a lack of government support.”
However, the Bass Coast Youth Parliament team refuted the Bill strongly.
“Dyslexia does not impair any person mentally. The Bill limits the exact people it aims to protect,” said Honourable Member Fletcher.
Honourable Member McDowell highlighted that the Bill “will guarantee that students are getting help with their learning [and] receive the same quality of education as any other student.”
According to the Government, the definition of dyslexia in the Bill was problematic.
“How can the opposition take this bill and possibly think it’s fair?” asked Ms Kershaw.
Heated debate continued for the hour the Bill was discussed. A visibly frustrated Mater Christi team passionately debated their Bill, one they had worked on for the past few months.
A personal anecdote from Honourable Member Bates summed up the debate by highlighting the difficulties many students with dyslexia face throughout their schooling.
The Bass Coast Youth team filed amendments for the Bill, which resulted in a division in the Legislative Council. The amendment was defeated, and the Bill was presented to the President.
Ultimately, the Bill was passed through the Youth Parliament, but it did little to calm down a fired up Mater Christi team. The debate summed up perfectly the excitement and passion that was on show all week during the 31st instalment of Youth Parliament.