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Primary Schools’ Parliamentary Convention

On Friday September 11, four Year 5 students were selected to attend the Primary Schools’ Parliamentary Convention. This was an initiative organised by Social Education Victoria (SEV) on behalf of Catholic Education Melbourne, Department of Education and Training and Independent Schools Victoria. Harry Coonan, Peter Orlando, William Richards and Daniel Van den Berg set off to spend the day at Parliament House in the Legislative Assembly chamber, being official parliamentarians for the day.

There were 22 schools invited to attend and the day was about students presenting ideas and discussing the issue — ‘Young peoples’ voices are not heard in Australian politics.’ Daniel was asked to give a two minute opening address about this topic and more specifically focused on ‘ways in which young people can voice their opinions and beliefs.’ The four students worked on this together and after a number of rehearsals and rewrites the speech was ready and exactly two minutes long (quite an achievement with so many ideas to share!).

These students had an amazing experience and had a first‐hand opportunity to spend time in the Parliament building and were all budding ministers. They had their say on the issue and were great ambassadors for the College. They were able to sum up their thinking about the issue and demonstrated great insight as young leaders. We are very proud of their achievements.

Thanks to Mr Ray Leetham who applied for this excellent opportunity. There were only five catholic schools selected so we are very pleased we were chosen. We have included Daniel’s opening address for your interest.

The question we are considering today is ‘Are young people’s voices heard in Australian politics’?

I have looked at the issue of ‘ways in which young people can voice their opinions and beliefs’. I firmly believe that young people have some opportunities however our voices are not yet being heard within Australian politics. It is important to empower young people because we will be the future leaders and decision makers of this country.

We can make contact with our local, state and federal members to attempt to make changes although we are not sure if our opinions go further.

At school we can have our say by voting for our school and class captains. The person voted in represents our whole class in making choices and leading the group. We also support our school Lasallian charity through the ‘Mission Action Day — MAD’. We have a say in what the money raised is used for. Our voices definitely make a difference!

Social media is a very powerful voice that can alert millions of people. Within seconds images or words can set off actions leading to online campaigns where people share opinions or sign petitions to send a direct message to the leaders of our country.

YouTube is also a great way for us to communicate our opinions globally. I think about Malala, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and her bravery in fighting for her cause. Her powerful message to young people worldwide was shared via technology.

Rallies that are taking place across the country for asylum seekers and refugees is another way for us to influence decisions and record our vote.

In conclusion, I believe that there are some ways in which young people can voice opinions and beliefs however if we all work together, especially with those who areable to vote, we can make a difference so our voices will be heard in Australian politics.Thank you.

Mrs Anette Phillips
Director of Primary

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