Young people push for life skills to be taught in schools

Members of Strathbogie Council’s YMCA Youth Parliament team. Clockwise from top left, Jeremy Brown, Zachary St-Pierre, Malachi Wild, Julia Vidler, Brandon McCall and Ashleigh Butcher.

By Xenia Sanut

A team of young people from Strathbogie Council are calling for the Victorian Government to introduce life education classes into the state’s curriculum as part of the YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament.

Ashleigh Butcher (20), Jeremy Brown (17), Brandon McCall (17), Zachary St-Pierre (17), Julia Vidler (17) and Malachi Wild (19) are calling for mandatory classes that teach students budgeting, mental health and first aid to prepare them for life beyond high school.

Mr St-Pierre believes the current school curriculum does not provide students with the skills and knowledge they need for adulthood.

“A lot of people see adult life as a challenge,” Mr St-Pierre said.

“If we add [these classes to the Victorian curriculum], maybe adulthood will be less hard, even something good and that you can achieve.”

The team is part of Strathbogie Council’s EVOLVE Youth Committee, and they are proposing the classes for year 7 to 10 students.

Each year level will be taught different content over the course of the school year, with mental health and first aid taught in year 7, budgeting and finance in year 8, housing and vehicle maintenance in year 9 and professional practices — such as LinkedIn profiles —  in year 10.

The lessons would be overseen by an advisory board who would audit the curriculum and ensure the content is up-to-date.

Mr St-Pierre said deciding which lessons should be prioritised and when they will be taught has been challenging for the team.

“The curriculum is already something very solid and that is very hard to change,” he said.

“Age groups need to know different things and you can’t fit everything into one year […] it depends on what is more important at that time”.

Their Bill also proposes that the lessons’ resources be made available online and at local libraries for the public to use.

YMCA Youth Parliament being held in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria’s Parliament House.

Mr St-Pierre believes the YMCA Youth Parliament program plays an important role in allowing young people to be heard at the highest levels of State Government.

“A little action can make a worldwide change or at least a state change,” he said.

“If we implement a law like this, other states may go, ‘That’s a good idea. Let’s do it.’, and it would dramatically upgrade the quality of living for young adults”.

The team’s Bill will be presented to the Minister for Youth, Ros Spence MP, in a virtual closing ceremony at the end of September.

This article was originally published in the Euroa Gazette.

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