FIFTY-TWO students from 14 Tasmanian schools and colleges recently gathered in Hobart for the 27th Tasmanian Youth Parliament.
The week-long event offered students a forum for raising and discussing issues that they saw as important to the future of society, as well as the opportunity to learn more about the Westminster system of government.
The increasing number of Tasmanian students in years 10 to 12 who wanted to participate in this year’s event meant that Youth Parliament participants sat in on both the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council proceedings.
Speaker of the House of Assembly Elise Archer MP said it was fantastic to have so many students around Parliament for a week
“Having interacted with the group and watched some of their spirited debates during the week, it was impressive to see the articulate and respectful way in which they provided considered opinions on a range of complex issues,” she said.
“This year’s Youth Parliament theme was ‘Not a Statistic’ with bill topics including raising the drinking age to 21, access to contraception, voluntary voting at age 16, mental health in schools, public transport and legalising paintball.
“You could see that there were some nerves for some of the Youth Parliamentarians as they rose to their feet to contribute to debate for the first time, but by the end of the week, you could see their confidence had grown enormously.”
Ms Archer hosted a “mocktail” party for participants and officiated the closing ceremony, where she was presented with nine youth bills that were passed by the students, as well as policy recommendations they developed for the state government and all parliamentarians to consider.
Hobart schools that were represented at the 2014 Youth Parliament included the Hutchins School, St Michael’s Collegiate School, Fahan School, Elizabeth College, Ogilvie High School, St Mary’s College and the Friends’ School.
The Liberal Government supported the Youth Parliament program with a $13,750 grant through organising body YMCA.