Four local high school students experienced life as MPs last week.
Caitlin Schuman and Jesse Streeting from Armidale High School, Thurkka Jeyakumar from PLC Armidale, and Uralla Central School student, Gemma Weguelin made themselves at home in Sydney’s Macquarie Street Parliament House for the 2017 YMCA Youth Parliament.
The Youth Parliament program is for students in Years 10-12 and complements the successful and long-standing Junior Parliament program for younger students.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall was on hand to meet the Youth MPs during a session of the Youth Parliament in the Legislative Assembly chamber (colloquially known as the Bear Pit) last week.
There was one other student from Mr Marshall’s electorate, Jasmine Robinson from Moree Secondary College.
“I was proud to meet Caitlin, Jesse, Jasmine, Thurkka and Gemma and watch them make some very considered, passionate and mature contributions to the debates in the House – they were outstanding advocates for country NSW,” Mr Marshall said.
Mr Marshall chaired a debate on an Education Bill in the Legislative Council and addressed members in the Legislative Assembly about the life of an MP and how to get involved in leadership roles in the local community.
“It was a real pleasure to attend last week’s sitting of the Youth Parliament and see our five Northern Tablelands representatives and their peers debating important issues with great gusto in the ‘bear pit’ such as mental health classes for school students, changing the role of school welfare counsellors and the introduction of Aboriginal language into the curriculum.
“They certainly did us proud.”
Returning for her third year in the Junior and Youth Parliament programs, Caitlin was elected Minister for Rural and Regional Affairs by her peers.
All 100 participants in the Youth Parliament were selected from across the state. The group is facilitated by a team of workers all aged under 25 and the Youth Parliament experience included workshops in the days leading up the Parliamentary session.
“This is a terrific initiative and I encourage any young people interested in youth leadership and governance to consider applying for the 2018 Junior and Youth Parliaments,” Mr Marshall said.
“I commend the YMCA and all those involved in making the sessions so successful and an enjoyable learning experience, not only for the participants, but also for MPs who take part.
“Young people are the future and witnessing the standard of debate this week in Parliament House, we are in good hands,” he said.