The New Face of Youth Culture
The image of youth is changing and YMCA Youth Parliament is proud to lend a hand to the new face of youth culture.
The NSW Youth Parliament is helping transform a generation with their political ambitions.
The Youth Parliament encourages youths to develop leadership and decision-making skills.
The program puts teenagers in a seat of power to debate their ideas and help ‘pass’ legislation.
Reaching its 12th year, the Parliament finally is gaining more and more publicity.
“It’s taken this long to get the attention of policy-makers, MPs, and media groups to show them what we’ve been doing,” said Beth Laurenson, 21, Task Coordinator for the Youth Parliament.
Laurenson believes the Parliament is a stepping stone for changing the stereotype of youth.
“It’s getting it out there that young people are interested and want to be involved,” she said.
The Youth Parliament is looking to increase its opportunities of showcasing young people.
In the 2011 Youth Parliament sitting, a group of ten youths succeeded in helping reform the Emergency Services legislation.
The Youth Parliament is helping produce new leaders with the skills they need to succeed.
“We’ve had quite a lot of past participants go on and are now staffed in different MPs offices,” she said.
“I think it brings fresh ideas to what’s going on in those offices.”
Laurenson is certain there definitely some future Prime Ministers in the Youth Parliament.
“They probably need a little more life experience before they can get the top job though,” she joked.
Along with the Parliament, Laurenson says student representatives are great for leadership skills.
“Leadership starts small,” said Kieran O’Connor, 20, of the University of Wollongong’s student council.
O’Connor believes there is too much of a stereotype about the younger generation.
“People tend to trivialize the concerns of youth and […] if you paid enough attention, you’ll realise some of them are quite well-read, educated arguments,” he said.
The elected UOW General Representative is realistic about youth involvement.
“It’s a two way street,” he said.
“The youth have to get involved. But someone has to be listening.”
Beth Laurenson recently addressed local teenagers at the Campbelltown Youth Forum, hoping to engage new interest in youth democracy.
Teenagers aged 15 to 18 interested in becoming part of the Youth Parliament can apply for events in 2013.
The Youth Parliament runs two annual Training and Residential camps.
The Training camp will run from April 19th to 21st while the Residential camp will run from June 30th until July 6th.
Listen to Member of the Legislative Council, the Honorary Sophie Cotsis, speak about her thoughts on the Youth Parliament and its participants.