Youth Parliament


The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 19:58 ): I move: 

That this council notes— 

1. The youth bills and acts written, debated and passed by the 2014 Youth Parliament of South Australia during this year’s YMCA Youth Parliament program; 

2. The outstandin g work of the participants and t askforce of the Youth Parliament program in producing and debating these pieces of legislation; 

3. The active engagement of our state’s youth in their communities and in the state’s decision-making process; and 

4. The importance and value of youth voice and advocacy, particularly on issues that directly affect youth. 

I move this evening that we recognise the great work of the Youth Parliament in this year of 2014, and particularly the youth bills and acts which were written, debated and passed by that parliament during this year’s sessions. I praise the outstanding work of the participants of the taskforce of the Youth Parliament program in producing and debating these pieces of legislation that go into producing this report.

I also take this opportunity to invite other members to also acknowledge the work of the Youth Parliament 2014 and indicate that I will be bringing this motion to a vote on Wednesday 3 December. I look forward not only to members participating in this place but Youth Parliament members coming along and joining us to celebrate their hard work for the 2014 Youth Parliament. 

Members would be well aware of the Youth Parliament. I think it is always an interesting occasion when youth parliamentarians come into this place and debate issues, many of which we ourselves debate but some of which we have never even thought of. Certainly they have many good ideas to put forward that should also quite rightly be debated in this place and in the other place. I cannot help but reflect on the words of Kofi Annan, who said: 

Normally when we need to know about something we go to the experts, but we tend to forget that when we want to know about youth and what they feel and what they want, that we should talk to them. 

Of course, youth are the experts in their own life and they also have a perspective on the many issues that we debate and, as I say, quite a few that they could bring to educate us. I look forward to 3 December and all members in this place being engaged in supporting the work of the Youth Parliament. Youth are not passive recipients and they are not the future: they are the here and now and they are part of our community.

In fact, it is probably not lost on members today that the Hon. Dr Bob Such was a great advocate for youth and, indeed, a former minister for youth affairs. As I mentioned, when I was involved with the National Union of Students he was also very active in youth affairs. I was also clearly engaged in that sector at the time. He moved bills about lowering the voting age to 16, as the Greens have also advocated. You would not be surprised to know that that was one of the bills that the Youth Parliament of 2014 debated. What you might be surprised to know is that, while they looked at reducing the voting age to 16 with their lowering the voting age bill, they also had provisions that that voting was not to be compulsory for those under 18, which I think is quite similar to the bills previously put forward by the Hon. Dr Bob Such and the Greens. It was also not to be compulsory for anyone over 70 in the Youth Parliament bill put forward in 2014. 

What I found quite interesting is that while that bill passed in the House of Assembly, it failed in the Legislative Council by two votes. It was a surprise to me that those young people did not want voluntary voting for 16 to 18-year-olds to be introduced, or perhaps it was that they did not want to exclude the over 70s. I am not sure. I think we will be reading in greater detail the debates and discussions that happened in that Youth Parliament. 

Another vote that took place was that which was, for the first time, a governor’s motion of public importance that was put to a public vote of the youth parliamentarians rather than simply chosen by the governor. The 2013-14 Youth Parliament governor was Malwinka Wyra, many of whom would be aware is actually a trainee in my office. She decided that rather than have a captain’s pick, if you like, she put it to a vote of over 500 young people from across South Australia and they chose the topic that was most important to them to debate: marriage equality. For the first time we saw young people have a real say in what that motion of public importance would be that would open the debates and proceedings. 

It probably will not come as any surprise to members that that bill passed both houses quite convincingly. Other bills that were debated were: a bill to ban jumps racing, a bill on therapeutic sex work, a bill about the solar industry in this state, a bill on same-sex adoption, a bill which looked at APY lands education reform, and also another bill on universal access, which was about the access to public and private spaces. The bill that got the most support, with a total of 90 yes votes across both houses, was the Youth Mental Health Accessibility Act. Following on from the words of the Hon. John Dawkins, who often brings up mental health issues and raises that very vital issue of mental health in this place, clearly young people think that mental health is also a priority and something that we should be acting upon. With those few words, I look forward to a debate on 3 December that involves many more members than myself and, as I say, an engagement with those youth parliamentarians. For the first time, I table the youth bills and acts of the Youth Parliament 2014, produced and published by the YMCA of South Australia in the Legislative Council, not only to inform this current Legislative Council, but to go into the records of the tabled parliamentary documents from this point. With that, I commend the motion to the council. 

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. G.A. Kandelaars.

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