Daylesford College student, Quinn Le Fevre, joined 119 young people from across Victoria for the YMCA Youth Parliament at the end of June.
The Youth Parliament is an annual program run by YMCA Youth Services to give young people first-hand experience with parliamentary processes.
The program involves about six months of preparation for participants. In small teams, youth parliamentarians are supported to write a bill which addresses issues they believe are important to change in Victorian legislation.
In terms one and two, participants meet periodically with a mentor to select a topic and to draft and finalise their bill. A three-day residential training weekend at the end of term one prepares participants for the Youth Parliament sitting week. Participants learn about parliamentary etiquette and debating and about interviews and dealing with media. They develop confidence and leadership skills. Preparation in terms one and two culminates in a week-long residential camp in Melbourne. The camp combines social opportunities with three days of sittings in either the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council chambers of the Victorian Parliament House.
Quinn is a Year 11 student at Daylesford College who hopes to study law at Melbourne University. Originally he was part of a team of four from the College but, for various reasons, he was the only student from Daylesford to attend the final camp.
Quinn was selected to introduce a bill he helped to prepare to lower the voting age to 16. Teams were assigned earlier in the year to support the bill or to speak against it. Teams for and against were given drafts of the legislation one month in advance so that they could prepare for the debate. To Quinn’s credit, the bill was passed by the Youth Parliament.
Quinn is passionate about the legislation which he helped to draft. “Young people are more politically engaged than they used to be,” he said. “They want more control over what governs them and they want opportunities to make change.”
The speaker for Quinn’s session was Local MP and Minister or Health, Mary-Anne Thomas. The bill was passed by the Youth Parliament after what Ms Thomas described as “a lively and impressively researched debate.” Legislation which is passed in the Youth Parliament is referred to the Minister for Youth for further consideration and possible introduction to the Victorian Parliament.
Other legislation considered by the Youth Parliament included a bill to include cultural education about Polynesian and First Nations peoples in school curricula and a bill to improve public safety in regional areas through increased lighting, improved public transport and increased availability of transponders.
Asked about his experience, Quinn encouraged other young people to get involved. “It was amazing! Incredible!” he said.
The program is open to young people aged between 16 and 25. For more information and to apply for the program, see https://vicyouth.ymca.org.au/learning-and-leadership/youth-parliament.