By Rio Davis
Olivia Beasley is proof that young Victorians are passionate about engaging with politics.
The Box Hill resident was elected Youth Governor by her peers as the face of the YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament program after demonstrating her enthusiasm and advocacy for young people.
A member of the deaf and hard of hearing community, Ms Beasley is passionate about all young people having a voice in politics.
“I don’t like the idea of ‘inspiring’ others – I intend to educate others to act rather than just talk,” Ms Beasley said.
“I don’t see myself as pursuing any agenda other than to boost young people’s confidence in their advocacy, their ability to meet other people and to affect change in society.”
YMCA Victoria’s Youth Parliament program gives young Victorians between the ages of 16 to 25 a chance to be heard at the highest levels of State Government on the issues that matter to them.
Since the program started in 1987, 30 Youth Parliament Bills that have gone on to become Victorian legislation.
Ms Beasley also works as the youth officer for Expression Australia, an organisation that services the deaf and hard of hearing community and lobbies for greater accessibility.
Combining her background in advocacy with her current studies in a Bachelor of Communications at Deakin University, Ms Beasley wants to see more deaf representation in the mainstream media.
“The Australian media choose people who can hear to interview intensively about the community which can be disappointing.”
Ms Beasley believes that young people’s disengagement with formal politics has increased the popularity of social movements like the school strikes for climate change.
“They’ve lost interest in voting for their own rights.”
But the idea that young people should leave politics to the adults is frustrating to Ms Beasley.
“I try to stand up to that idea – I’ve learned that I have to take action, to prove them wrong.”
Ms Beasley says that the real importance of the YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament is in its power to create community leaders and “ministers of the future”.
“They see what politics could be.”
The Youth Parliament will sit on July 1, 2, and 4.
Rio Davis is a member of the YMCA Youth Press Gallery.
This article originally appeared on the Whitehorse Leader, July 1, 2019.