Local, Independant and Effective

Young people deserve a voice in decision making

Posted May 04, 2017


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (17:48): I acknowledge the comments of the member for Fisher and say what a great idea it is to have a youth council, but I will get into my speech and do battle with you about other things you could do to engage with young people beyond a youth council.

I start by saying how proud I am to second the motion from the member for Mayo on the proposed minister for young people. I am really delighted that you have taken the position of bringing this important matter to parliament, and I congratulate you for that. I look forward, over the next three years of our terms in parliament, to being able to celebrate the appointment of a youth minister. These are the beginning steps of laying the foundation for that.

Why does it really matter? It matters because our Prime Minister has said that the key for the future of this country is innovation and creativity. We absolutely know that if we are going to be the innovative, creative country that we could be we have to work with everybody in our country to do it. Sadly, we are not doing that. We do exactly as the member for Fisher said: we set up councils. We make things distant. In the process of distancing ourselves from young people we are losing the opportunity to have their input in the foundations of a policy that could make this country really great.

What I love about this idea is that it is not just a minister, like we have a health minister or an aged-care minister, it is a position that networks and links across all portfolio areas and bring the best ideas together. What I am really pleased about is we have a chance with this position to actually create, as the Prime Minister wants, an innovative solution rather than building more silos. And in talking about innovative solutions, I would really like to acknowledge some of the wonderful work that really is happening in Indi. And I would like to take the member for Fisher's ideas and just say, 'Let's just value-add to some of that stuff that is going on,' because there is so much that is happening in my own electorate and in Victoria that I know we could value-add to. And what a minister for young people would do is take the good stuff from your electorate and the good stuff from my electorate and maybe put them into a national youth council. That way, maybe, we can actually take all these good ideas that are coming and contribute to policy.

So what is happening in northeast Victoria? Representatives from the Wodonga Secondary College's Flexible Learning Centre and Wodonga College of TAFE are going to Melbourne to participate in the 2017 youth summit at the MCG on Friday, 31 March. What an amazing experience that will be. The Alpine Shire is organising an amazing race day. It is being coordinated by Elisha Hazeldine to bring the young people together. At the Corryong Neighbourhood House, we are going to have a program called Stepping Up and it is coordinated by Sara Jenkins. So we have the microcommunity, the young people, coming together.

Wodonga Senior Secondary College and Benalla Flexible Learning Centre are going to have a Drumtastik day. It is an opportunity to make music and find voice through song. The Mansfield Youth Transition Project day will be led by Jodie Bell. SoundOut17 will be coordinated by Samantha Lampe from Wodonga City Council. Rumble in the Gums will be coordinated by Bree Fitzpatrick from the Moira Shire Council. The GeekCon day will be coordinated by Tom Arnold from the rural City of Wodonga. And activities will conclude right across my electorate on 4 April with the northeast Victoria 2017 politics camp hosted by local government. But the politics, the activity and the engagement in Indi is not only limited to the people who live in my electorate. Many of my community have left the electorate and are now living and studying outside. So on Friday, we were going to have a young Indi expat breakfast here in Parliament House. We will invite the young people studying at universities and working in Canberra to come to Parliament House, have a chance to get to know each other and use their ideas in a structured, facilitated session to input on policy.

I am really looking forward to the member for Mayo and I walking the talk of absolute participation of young people in politics, not just having them as 'other' but having them as an integral part of how this place works. So to that end, I would like to acknowledge Eliza Ginnivan, being here today, and the other young people part of my team and the regular grouping of young people who come to parliament and work in my office in the development of policy, working out how we are going to vote and in learning how to be an Independent. It is fantastic to have young people from right around Australia, but in particular in my electorate, having the opportunity to do so. In bringing my comments to a close and supporting this motion, my call-out is to the government: the answer to innovation and the answer to creativity lies in the digital natives of our country. Let us get them involved in policy and let us have a minister to help us do that.

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