Towards the end of 2012, my Dad gave me an article from his aunty which was on Blake Osmond (2012 Youth Governor) detailing his experience in the 2012 program. I immediately started ringing around the various MLCs and I was lucky enough to gain the nomination of the Hon. Mick Veitch. I wouldn’t have had the great experience that I had in the program had it not been for Mick’s willingness to nominate me and assist me over the period I was in the program.
In April this year I left for Camp Yarramundi to attend the training camp early in the morning and along the way we stoped for lunch at the local KFC. Unknown to me, in the same KFC eating lunch is Brydan Toner, to be the Deputy Leader of Government in the Legislative Council and 2014 Youth Governor.
Walking up the driveway at Yarramundi where all the participants were, my stomach was turning over, because I didn’t know what to expect. It was the first time I would have been away from my parents and not on a school excursion. But, as soon as I got talking to my fellow participants, my nerves were immediately dispelled. I particularly connected immediately with Brydan Toner, Annie Zhou, Jarah Crook and Michael Wright.
We met with our committees for the first time at Training Camp. I was on the Roads and Ports committee with Tegan Keizer and Sophie Lara-Watson. We were incredibly efficient with the assistance of our advisor Brad Stait.
I went home very confident and really excited for Residential Camp. I talked all the way home, and to put it in context, between Yarramundi and Wyong on the Central Coast is a two hour drive!
Before Residential Camp, I had a meeting with Mick to get his opinion on the report that we created. He thought that it was absolutely excellent and had no criticisms!
When it was time for my report to be debated in Parliament House in July, I got up and gave my 5-minute sponsor speech. Unknown to everyone, I had only written half the speech. I made the 2nd half of the speech off the top of my head. I would never have been able to do that before YP.
After my report passed with over 30 in support, I was privileged to debate an important issue in my local community; the issue of a new high school at Warnervale. I was able to place on record my views of this community issue in front of government MLC Catherine Cusack.
The biggest part of Youth Parliament was the self-discovery journey that I went on. Hearing the personal stories of benefits of teachers aids during the Teachers Aids Act debate, the stories of terrible treatment in the public housing system, hearing the stories of bullying when individuals came out as homosexuals was just heart breaking and brought me to tears. Until Youth Parliament, I didn’t realise that I had so much empathy for others in me.
But the utmost best thing about Youth Parliament, is the self-empowerment that it gives you. It really feels like you are getting your views heard when you stand at the lectern, state your opinion on a bill and look up at the President’s chair and see a real MP sitting there listening.
There is so much that I will take away from Youth Parliament. I have gained so many skills, including public speaking skills, advocacy skills and social skills. I have made so many life-long friends that I know will still be in contact with me when I am old and on a walking stick. YP has benefited me so much and I would recommend it to anyone.
2013 Youth Member of the Legislative Council
2013 Youth Minister for Roads and Ports
2013 Youth Parliamentarian of the Year
To apply for 2014, head to: http://www.ymcansw.org.au/centre/nswyp/activity/nswyp
Make sure to check out our interview with Daniel from 2013, and subscribe to our channel for more great videos! https://www.youtube.com/user/nswYPTV