Today I had the pleasure of officially opening the 30th annual Tasmanian Youth Parliament at Parliament House in Hobart which I have presided over since being elected to the position of Speaker of the House of Assembly in 2014.
Fifty two students in Years 10-12 from fourteen schools and colleges around the Stare are taking part in the week-long event with the tagline for the event being ‘The Voice of Young Tasmanians’.
Youth Parliament is an innovative program run by young people for young people, aimed at educating and empowering our youth through public speaking, whilst also providing them with opportunities to engage with elected Members, contribute their opinions and help shape political policy.
Participants sit in both the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council, with several sessions to be chaired by ‘real’ Members of Parliament from both chambers.
The Youth Parliament program provides Tasmanian students with a unique insight into parliamentary processes such as writing legislation, debating bills and understanding the Standing Orders as well as learning more about our Westminster system of government.
Having been involved in Youth Parliament in previous years, one of the most exciting elements of the program is seeing students evolve over the course of the week and, in some cases, the course of a couple of years if they are return participants.
The annual event is organised by a not-for-profit group of volunteers under the age of 25 called the Tasmanian Youth Government Association Task Force supported by the YMCA and the Tasmanian Government, which has provided a $13,750 grant towards this year’s Youth Parliament.
Through workshops and speakers' panels the specific focus this year is on issues facing the Tasmanian health system. Bills scheduled to be debated include Adoption, Beach Rejuvenation, Children’s Equality, Education Reform, Organ Donation and many other topics chosen by the students.
Bills that are 'passed' and policy documents formulated will be presented to me to provide to the State Government at the end of the week.
I am proud to support a program that provides an educative forum for bright young Tasmanians to express their ideas, learn about Parliament and better understand the importance of politics in a democratic society.