Local, Independant and Effective

Commitment of Benalla's young leaders honoured in Parliament

Posted May 24, 2017


Cathy honoured Benalla's young people not as leaders of tomorrow but people leading their community today.

"Don't ever doubt how passionate, engaged and hardworking our young people are," Cathy said, welcoming Benalla P-12 College's captains to Parliament House.

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:43):  As I rise in the House, I want to acknowledge the student leaders of Benalla P-12 who are here with us today. I say to Freya, Emily, Zach and Masie, 'Welcome.' Often young people are described as leaders of tomorrow. But I can stand here today and say these young people are not waiting for tomorrow; they are leaders in their community today. I bring a very clear message to this House: do not ever doubt how passionate, engaged and hardworking our young people are.

Last week I travelled around my electorate seeking the views of people, particularly young people, on the government's budget and how it would affect them. The message was clear. Young people are talking about connection—connection between health, education, art, employment and infrastructure. They told me that for those who choose to stay in their own community it often comes at great expense. There are fewer opportunities for employment and fewer opportunities for continuing their education. For others it means travel to a TAFE or university in a nearby city or residing away from home for extended periods of time and being faced with the financial and social pressures of re-establishing themselves away from home, friends and community. As students, employees, carers, community leaders, volunteers and advocates for better services for their community, young people in rural communities know better than most the importance of connection.

It is what they do every day. And while this places great weight on their shoulders, it also brings with it enormous compassion and understanding for others.

We saw this compassion and understanding when students from FCJ College in Benalla joined forces with Cooinda Benalla aged care, celebrating in their own lip sync battle of the Queen classic 'Don't Stop Me Now' as part of the Let's Find Our Voice choir initiative. I recommend watching it on YouTube. We saw this compassion and understanding also in Muso Magic, where health and art come together as the young people of Benalla and surrounding shires draw on their experiences to co-write and record a song on mental health—a fantastic effort.

Regional communities are built on compassion, on making sure that people do not fall through the gaps. I say to you young people, who are representing all the young people of north-east Victoria: Thanks for coming to Canberra. Thanks for being part of it. I hope this experience stays with you for the rest of your lives, and you know that always parliament is here for you. It wants to hear your voice.

I call on the government to make really concerted efforts to hear young people's voice, to engage with young people, to understand that they have compassion, that they have the best interest of their community at heart and that they have so much to add to our country and our nation.

In closing, I call on the Prime Minister and the opposition to give serious consideration to appointing a minister for youth, who will enable these voices to be heard and government voices to engage with community.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Buchholz):  I thank the honourable member for her contribution and join with her in welcoming our students again.