The final debates of the program – Day 4

Young people want to see great sustainability in the Victorian agriculture industry

Moyne Shire youth tabled the Sustainable Agriculture Incentives Bill 2021 on day four of the YMCA Youth Parliament. 

Key aspects

  • Hon. Member Killen says “agriculture is a substantial contribution to climate change and environment degradation. However, we want to show our passion for this subtopic.”
  • He goes on to say “our Bill is intended to go beyond simply addressing climate change and aims to specifically target to agriculture industry and the farmers in it.”
  • The Bill seeks to achieve this by establishing the Committee for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) and will encourage farmers to become industry leaders in agriculture sustainability.
  • The Bill is designed to be flexible to work with farmers to feel empowered in their decisions.
  • This Bill will help to reduce the waste in the agriculture industry through funding small farms and giving rebates to large farms. 
  • There will be consequences for failing to comply.
  • Community and not-for-profit organisations will also be able to lodge applications for community garden grants to the CSA.

Key critiques: 

  • Greater definition around what sustainable farming means.
  • Community gardens could cause more harm than good if not managed properly.
  • Greater evidence needed around how this will help combat climate change. 

What the government said: 

Hon. Member Fenton comes from a small farm in south-west Victoria and has seen first-hand how sustainable farming improves the land and people. 

“Funding is about uplifting the smaller farms and community organisations,” she said. 

“There will be a ripple effect across Victoria.

“It’s about the current and future health of our future planet.”

What the opposition said: 

“We need more specific details on how this bill will address sustainable farming?,” the Hon. Member Kruse said. “How will we educate about sustainable farming? 

“Everyone wants change but no one wants to change.”

The result: 

Sustainable Agriculture Incentives Bill 2021passed the YMCA Youth Parliament’s Legislative Council and will now be passed onto the Minister for Youth Ros Spence.

The debate was chaired by Becc Brooker.

By Kimberley Price

Neurodiverse education for all Victorian schools

Sponsored by Hoppers Crossing Secondary College, the Bill highlights that current Victorian systems put all students on the same learning style, a “one size fits all approach” that “denies students the ability to learn how they learn”. The Government championed inclusiveness and representation in the implementation of the bill, stating that support must be provided to a diverse range of students.  This Bill will help all students and staff to better understand and support neurodiverse students.

“Neurodiversity encompasses conditions like autism, dyslexia and ADHD. It’s neither bad nor good, it’s just different” – The Hon Member Dayao (Gov).

Key Components of the Bill

The Bill highlighted these key points: 

📚 Inclusiveness

*  Adjustments made for each student to be able to learn how they learn, avoid spotlights on struggles in a mass setting

* Standard to be established in all Victorian Schools

📚 Establishment of a Committee to manage and oversee implementation 

*  The Board will consult Neurodiversity Hub who has lived experience with neurodiversity to inform changes in curriculum.

* A member representative from Inclusive Classrooms will also be on the team to create appropriate program

📚 Strategies to aid students and staff in primary and secondary education

* Education addresses stigma so neurodiverse students feel safe

📚 Regular audits of schools to ensure 

* Audit held every 2 years and feedback surveyed from neurodiverse students to evaluate effectiveness.

Key Critiques of the Bill

While the Government supported the Oppositions intentions to aid the neurodiverse student community, they highlighted fears that the bill was incomplete and unrealistic. 

“This bill is flawed, impractical and reckless across many fronts.” – The Hon Member Aceta (Opp)                                                                                                        

Critiques included:

– Frail and vulnerable implementation plans

– Vague definitions of neurodiversity

– Increased workload on education providers

– No monetary or academic value

– Could increase discrimination and prejudice against neurodiverse students


The Bill was passed near unanimously in favour of the Government. Congratulations Hoppers Crossing Secondary College!

By Abbygail Shun

Korin Gamadji Institute pushing for Compulsory First Nations Education

A Bill sponsored by the Korin Gamadji Institute is pushing for First Nations Education in Victorian Schools. The aim of this Bill is to add First Nations’ education into the Victorian curriculum, teaching students vital information about Australia’s history.

The debate was joined by MP Sheena Watt, a Yorta Yorta woman who is the first Indigenous women to be a representative within the Australian Labor Party within Parliament of Victoria.

Key aspects of the Bill:

📚The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies (ATSIS) regulatory body shall be established and sit within the Department of Education and Training.

📚Aim to put through the following curriculum: 

Primary schools:

  • Foundation to Year 2 –  shall learn about First Nations culture through music and dance
  • Years 3 to 6 – will learn about art and symbols used in idigenous art.
  • Local Koorie Education Support Officer (KESO) will teach/ assist these programs.

Victorian secondary schools:

  • Years 7 and 8 –  Compulsory teaching of First Nations education incorporated into the humanities section of the Victorian curriculum, adding onto the pre-existing Indigenous studies section.
  • Years 9 and 10 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies shall be an elective class.
  • Year 11 and 12 students – new VCE subject focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies.

📚Language of the land the school is situated on shall be taught as part of LOTE classes in secondary schools.

📚 A ‘Blak History’ podcast shall be established to support the curriculum implemented in schools.

Key critiques by City of Whittlesea:

  • Bill does not address the time and resources that will be needed to coordinate training for current teachers on First Nations Education. Will teachers have the time and financial means to take on the training?
  • Non-First Nation teachers educating students about First Nations culture and history without any personal lived experience – may create bias and misinterpretations. 
  • There is already Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander history across year levels – “No clear establishment on the difference between the proposed new curriculum to what is already being taught currently.” Hon. Member Scott states.
  • VCE Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander has no clear curriculum and scaling system.
  • No Acknowledgement of Modern day struggles of First Nations People.
  • Topics featured that will be taught in secondary schools are sensitive and can cause distress if taught incorrectly.
  • Programs specifically for VCE students however excludes VCAL and VET students on how they’ll access this program.


The Bill passed in the legislative council with a vote of 29 to only 1.

By Samantha Wheeler

Students call for increased regulation of private aged care

The Melbourne High team’s Bill looks to better regulate private aged care providers with the ultimate aim of improving conditions for both residents and staff. The Bill proposes mandates for private aged care facilities including: specific nurse-to-resident ratios, hiring quota minimums for full-time employees, and transparent staff rostering systems. The Bill also describes the creation of a dedicated regulatory authority to oversee these mandates. 

(Image via Getty Images) 

The Bill was sponsored by the Melbourne High Changemakers and refuted by the Skyline Foundation team. The Hon. Member John Kennedy MP was the speaker for this debate. 

The arguments for the Bill included: 

  • Better conditions for aged care workers would mean better care for the elderly residents. 
  • The present lack of regulation of private health care was a contributing factor in the COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care in 2020, and thus changes must be made to prevent a similar catastrophe from occurring again. 
  • Workers in the aged care sector are predominantly female and immigrant, and thus improving working conditions and making work more reliable would benefit these groups. 
  • Improved conditions and stability would draw more workers to aged care and keep them there for longer periods. 

The arguments against the Bill included: 

  • The Bill “overrides and undermines” unions by creating a new regulatory body. 
  • The Bill is not inclusive of all types of aged care workers, excluding in-home carers and medical staff including doctors and pharmacists. 
  • The mandates described in the Bill do not include leave or other incentives, and thus will most likely not draw workers to the sector. 
  • Questions regarding whether the staffing ratios would be achievable. 
  • The plan to enforce the mandates as described in the Bill is undefined and vague. 


The Bill failed to pass the Legislative Assembly with a vote of 12-17.

By Charlie Goldberg

Workplace sexual harassment prevention Bill passed in a landslide victory

CW: This post contains references to sexual harassment

In one of the last debates of this year’s Victorian Youth Parliament, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School tabled their Proactive Measures to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Bill. Given the all too familiar occurrence of workplace sexual harassment in Australia, especially in politics, the Ivanhoe team argued that now, more than ever, change was needed to protect workers.

Their Bill, which would see the establishment of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Prevention Authority (WSHPA), aims to both prevent sexual harassment at work, and destigmatise reporting or complaints of sexual harassment. The WSHPA would serve to promote and implement training programs for workplaces, and would also have the power to conduct investigations and issue penalties.

Ensuring the security and wellbeing of employees is a key component of the team’s Bill. As the Hon. Member Doogue asserted, “our aim is to make sexual harassment a safety concern, which legally needs to be prevented.”

However, members from Newhaven College; the opposing team, contended the government’s Bill was too heavily centred around prevention, as opposed to proactivity, with its effectiveness reliant upon individuals taking action, rather than changing workplace culture. In addition, the reliance on handouts and pamphlets distributed by the WSHPA to increase awareness of sexual harassment prompted the Hon. Member Scott stated the Bill was “formed on the basis of idealism.”

Nonetheless, the opposition could not deny the exigency of the proposed Bill. The Hon. Member Boceska stated, “we believe in this training, we just don’t want it to be in vain.”

With their overarching purpose of enabling employees, particularly female workers, to report sexual harassment without fear of retaliation, intimidation or job insecurity, the government made a convincing argument as to why their Bill should be passed. The persuasiveness of their case can be embodied through the Hon. Member Butler’s assertion, “to oppose this Bill is to deny all Victorians the right to feel safe at work.”

The result was that the Bill passed the legislative council with a resounding victory, 25-2.

By Selina Zhang

Youth demands equal access to education for rural and remote schools

Sponsored by the City of Greater Bendigo, the Bill outlines the distinct disadvantages that rural and regional students face in education access, from struggles with internet access to lack of career education and tutor support. 

“Rural and Regional education is being compromised by their location. The difference [between rural schooling] and Melbourne is astounding” – The Hon. Member Noble.

Key Components of the Bill

The Bill highlighted these key points: 

📚 Increased funding for camps and educational experiences

📚 Supporting additional tutors in person and online for students 

📚  Improvements in internet and digital device access to enable them additional study aid

📚 Increased funding to school libraries and information banks

📚 Introducing mandatory careers and future studies expos

Key Critiques of the Bill

While the Government concede that rural communities face a asymmetrical disadvantage in education quality, they state that the Bill focuses on irrelevant points, highlighting that resources should be funnelled towards better goals. The amendments recommended include improving the range of courses available to high school students, focusing on community involvement and supporting current systems. 

“This bill is flawed, impractical and reckless across many fronts.” – The Hon Member Aceta (Opp)                                                                                                        

Critiques included:

– Camps and educational experiences are relatively unproductive

– Current teaching staff and facilities would be a better investment as opposed to outsourcing Melbourne tutors

– Disengagement from rural community

– Mass migration of youths away from regional communities.

“Would it not be better to make rural schools more self-reliant? Wouldn’t it be better for schools to improve their own culture? Incentivise teachers to better teach these students!” – The Hon Member Ko (Opp)


With passion and supporting stories from their lived experience, the Opposition argued passionately and decisively. The Bill was passed in favour of the affirmative at 15-12. Congratulations to The City of Greater Bendigo!

By Abbygail Shun

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