Words by Jonathan Lian.
Video by Alex Tyndall.
The YMCA Youth Parliament’s first day has ended with a cocktail of strong emotions and a plethora of successful bills being passed in both the Legislative Council and Assembly. Read on to find out what were the highlights of this exciting day!
Youth Parliamentarians gathered to commence the 2018 Youth Parliament this morning at the Legislative Council in the Parliament of Victoria.
Despite a delay caused by a bus breakdown, the participants were fresh faced and eager to begin the day.
The 32nd annual Youth Parliament was officially opened by Youth Governor, James Abbott, who imparted some words of wisdom before commencing the ceremony.
“Don’t underestimate the power that your voice has,” he said. “It may open doors for you that you never thought would be open for you.”
Minister for Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos said that it is important for the government to share a strong connection with the youth community.
“It’s an opportunity to get first hand ideas and knowledge of the issues that are important to young people,” she said.
The great debates began with a matter of public importance meeting at the Legislative Council and Assembly.
The discussion of the day was regarding Australia potentially outgrowing its imperial roots to become a Republic.
The opposition side argued against this move, citing financial costs and a lack of structure and plan as their main points.
However, the members of the pro-republic side proposed a more ambitious and
The Honourable Member Dillon Bulman and Ali Noura spoke for progressiveness,
diversity and multicultural identities as part of being an independent republic.
“We are no longer just a British nation,” Ali said. “Our views and identity should no longer be tied to our past.”
“Our republic model would give Australia a better chance for moving forward,” Dillon added.
Despite a heated debate, the opposition lost 22 to 37 votes to the pro-republic team.
Gleneagles Secondary College (Supporting) v Newhaven College (Refuting) in the Legislative Council.
Gleneagles Secondary College’s Public Availability of Sanitary Products Bill was the first bill passed at the Legislative Council this afternoon.
Aside from concerns about establishing a regulatory body, both the Gleneagles College team and the opposition Newhaven College team agreed that this policy was long overdue.
The bill was then passed unanimously in the Legislative Council which made it the
first successful bill at the 2018 YMCA Youth Parliament.
The Gleneagles College’s bill promoted a greater equality for all women across Victoria and ensured that no female should ever have to choose between “purchasing lunch” or “buying sanitary products,” they said.
“This bill will provide all women, even the homeless, with the right equipment needed,” said Alishbah Younus of the Gleneagles team.
“It will improve the comfort, cleanliness, and affordability of menstrual products which are currently taxed as a luxury item,” Gleneagles member Maya Ghassali added.
Centre for Multicultural Youth (S) v Mildura Rural City Council (R) in the Legislative Assembly.
Youth Premier Swathi Shanmukhasundaram and her team was successful in passing their bill that called for a compulsory program for immigrants that advocated education about sex, relationships and domestic violence.
The bill, entitled “Fostering Positive Relationships 2018,” passed the Legislative Assembly on voices alone and focused on school students with limited knowledge of substance abuse, mental health, technology, gender and sexual orientation.
Despite it’s good intentions, the opposition MP Georgia Leutner criticised the compulsory nature of the Bill as families would want to have a choice to educate their children in accordance to their culture and religion.
These comments drew a strong response from the Youth premier, who cited domestic abuse cases as a cause of families refusing to educate their children properly in relationships and domestic violence.
The Adjournment Debate for the First Day of the YMCA Youth Parliament has ended with a broad range of topics brought forward by Youth MPs towards the Victorian parliament.
The participants passionately expressed their views in hopes to generate greater public awareness towards their proposed issue.
Topics discussed in the first adjournment debate included racism towards African Australians, high incarceration rates of Indigenous youths, the inconsistency of public transport in Victoria, stopping mandatory detention of refugees and the need for more deaf awareness education.
Wellington Shire Council (S) Wangaratta High School (R) Lower Breast Screening Age from 15 to 25 Bill.
After a dramatic division, the Wellington Shire Council team’s bill regarding the Lowering of the Breast Screening Age from 50 to 25’ has been passed by the Legislative Assembly.
The passed legislation aims to make breast screening more accessible for Victoria’s young women and establish the Victorian Young Womens Breast Cancer Organisation for Research and Medical Support regarding breast cancer.
During the debate, the opposition accused the Wellington Shire team of being misinformed about the context of this bill.
By increasing the number of breast screenings, you are just putting increased pressure on a system that is already crumbling under the current demands, said opposition MP Sasha Mozhnya.
To overcome the division, the Wellington Shire team had to make amendments to their bill clarifying who could be classified as eligible for screenings.
Women aged 25 and above will be eligible for every two years,” says Wellington shire MP Hannah Husodo.
“This will lead to an early detection of breast cancer in young women.”
Hoppers Crossing Secondary College (S) V Wonthaggi Secondary College (R) Sex and Gender Education Bill.
Ending the first Youth Parliament session was the passing of the final bill by the Hoppers Crossing Secondary College team that called for an increase of sex and gender education at schools.
The result was 45 votes in favour and 15 in oppose to the bill.
The debate for this bill drew strong reactions from both sides of the chamber. The opposition spoke against the formal implementation of sex education as there were several factors to consider.
These included changing the curriculum, regulating the teachers teaching it and focusing instead on teaching more important life skills.
In response, MP Jagveer Singh labelled the opposition as “incompetent” in their rebuttals as he concluded that their proposed bill was to “save lives” that were lost from STIs and other life threatening sexual diseases.
That wraps up the first day, more to come tomorrow!