By Youssef Saudie, Member of the YMCA Youth Press Gallery
Castlemaine students will be fighting to raise the criminal age responsibility in Victoria when they take to Parliament House in the first week of July.
Castlemaine Secondary College students Shanti Steventon, Alex Marney, Amy Ferguson, Gek Wylde, Niamh O’Connor and Uma Dingemans will introduce the Bill at the annual YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament which proposes raising the criminal age responsibility from 10 to 14.
If the students successfully pass the Bill, it will be given to the relevant State Government Minister for consideration. Over 30 YMCA Parliament Bills have gone on to become Victorian legislation.
Team member, Shanti Steventon said the Bill also proposes different ways to deal with youth crime.
“It’s about implementing alternative intervention programs that can address youth crime more effectively and in a more compassionate and community-minded way,” said Ms Steventon.
“We’ve lived quite privileged and accessible lives where we have a supportive community, but a lot of young people don’t have that in Victoria,” she said.
The students value the opportunity to enact change and also want to change perceptions about young people and politics.
“When people say that they think young people aren’t engaged in politics, it’s a lie,” Ms O’Connor said.
Youth Premier of the YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament, Declan Negus said the program gives “so many young people the opportunity for their voices to be heard and their opinions to be displayed at a high level of Parliament”.
“Without this program, it would be really difficult for young people to have a tangible and foreseeable future or pathway to create change and create meaningful change,” he added.
Debates on the Parliament of Victoria will begin on July 1.
This article originally appeared on the Castlemaine Mail, June 28, 2019.