During the recent school holidays, one of our Year 10 students was busy debating a range of issues at the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament. Please read the Pittwater Life article written by Nigel Wall below.
While most of her peers threw their uniforms in their cupboards (or on their bedroom floors) and relaxed during the recent July holidays, St Luke’s Grammar student Maya Berg was busy debating a range of issues at the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament.
Maya, 15, from Avalon, joined 160 young people who were appointed as NSW Youth Parliament representatives, to discuss issues including Mental Health, Domestic Violence, Euthanasia and Climate Change.
The Year 10 student explained the program focuses on empowering young people to have a voice – and potentially turn their passions into parliamentary action.
The Youth Parliament is the culmination of a 7-month program comprising two residential camps, with participants attending NSW Parliament House for four days to showcase their hard work and dedication.
At the beginning of the program representatives are divided into committees, with the objective of delivering a report in Youth Parliament – just like the real government process.
“My committee’s report will be presented for consideration to the NSW Government, and potentially be passed in NSW law,” said Maya. “In fact, over half a dozen pieces of past participants’ Youth Legislation have been passed in NSW law.”
Premier Mike Baird, Governor of NSW David Hurley, as well as MPs chaired debates and spoke about issues affecting youth.
Other issues covered by committee reports included the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields; reducing homophobia in schools; the use of environmentally sustainable packaging; exclusion zones outside abortion clinics; and potentially moving Australia Day to an alternative date.
Maya said her Law Reform Committee report focused on making sure the NSW Justice System was fair and “provided equality for all prisoners by increasing welfare and rehabilitation programs inside prison and improved reintegration for prisoners exiting the criminal justice system.”
“Being involved in Youth Parliament was a really inspiring experience,” Maya said. “I learnt that you are never too young to make a difference and advocate for the issues you are passionate about. I know what I learnt will stay with me and guide me forever.”
– Nigel Wall, Pittwater Life, August 2016