11 Jul 2018
Pakenham Gazette, Melbourne
By Kyra Gillespie
For the past week I exchanged my cosy desk at the Star News office in Pakenham to rush around the halls of Victorian Parliament, reporting on the 120 people taking part in this year's YMCA Youth Parliament.
For more than 30 years Youth Parliament has been a fixture of the political landscape in Victoria; more than 25 bills first passed at Youth Parliament have gone on to become state legislation.
In its 32nd year, the program sees young people aged between 16 and 25 design a piece of legislation, or bill, on an issue they are passionate about which is tabled and debated before a parliament of their fellow young Victorians.
As part of the youth press gallery I was able to watch teams from all around Victoria converge on Victorian Parliament in Melbourne to conduct their debates. Perfectly parodying their senior counterparts in the emerald green chairs and burgundy benches of State Parliament's elegant Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly, the young MPs showed a desire to make the world a better place.
Twenty bills were debated across the week, with topics ranging from mandatory rooftop gardens on government buildings, minimising the environmental impact of single-use plastic bottles, lowering the free breast screening age to 25 and rape trial reform.
I was thoroughly impressed by the respect and rigour displayed by the young parliamentarians throughout the duration of the debates.
It's hard to describe how inspiring it was to see so many young people taking a stand for what they believe in and debunk common criticisms that young people are disengaged or disinterested in politics. Our role as the Victorian Parliamentary Press Gallery was to report beyond the confines of the parliamentary chambers.
Comprising of 22 journalism and media students, we worked behind the scenes to produce content on the bills debated, which included articles, podcasts, video and more.
For the past couple of months in the lead up to the parliament week we also had a range of training opportunities from industry experts, and got the chance to meet and network with professional Victorian and national journalists.
The program ended with a closing ceremony featuring Minister for Families, Children and Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos, Shadow Minister for Families and Children Georgie Crozier, and YMCA Board Member Olly Tripodi, who each praised the conduct and passion of the Youth Parliament throughout the week and encouraged more spirited debating from Victoria's future politicians and advocates.
All but one of the 20 bills passed at Youth Parliament have now been passed on to Minister Mikakos.
I thoroughly enjoyed the bustle of Parliament House, the shuffling of paper and the sound of the Spring Street bells in my ears.
I highly recommend anyone currently studying or who has an interest in political journalism, photography and/or videography to take part in the program.
It was truly an unforgettable experience.
Caption Text: Youth press gallery participants Kim Price, Kyra Gillespie and Shelby Brooks.
|Tags: Letters to the Editor|