Ode to WordPress

As YMCA Youth & Government heads into an exciting new era, with new programs and new ideas, our online media presence is also changing and growing.

It is a thrilling time for all areas of Y&G, but it does mean that the time has come to bid farewell to our beloved blog…

The YMCA has recently unveiled an updated and new website. As part of this, Y&G now has our very News section!

The Youth & Government blog has moved:

So fear not, all your regular blog posts will continue to appear throughout this year and well into the future. They will now take the form of News Items on our official Youth & Government website.

This blog will remain here as a repository of all our 2011 to 2013 articles. But from now on, all new posts will move to the new location on the Y website.

That means this is our last post on this WordPress. Given that this is a momentous occasion, we thought it warranted a special send off. Therefore, as we say farewell, we present to you the statistics of three years of blogging, in celebrations of the good times we had.

Number of hits: More than 6000
Busiest month: September 2013 with 1046 hits
Most viewed post: Getting ready for Ressi; the Do’s and Don’ts, posted June 23rd, 2013
Most viewed page: YMCA NSW Junior Parliament
Most shared post: Michael’s YP Story
Numbers of countries that our blog has been viewed in: 47
Most commonly searched term through a search engine to find our blog: Matthew Oreshkin

As you can see, it’s been a prolific and successful few years.

It’s now time for one final thank you to everyone who has contributed to this blog over the years and made it the success it has been.

So, farewell to ymcayouthandgovernment.wordpress.com Thank you for the memories!

And hello to http://www.ymcansw.org.au/centres/youth-government/news! Make sure you head over to our new website and check it out! We look forward to long future of posts!


Welcome to the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament for 2014!

We are pleased to announce that the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament is well underway for its 13th year!

We have a very dedicated and hardworking taskforce who are well and truly getting into the planning of the program, and over 160 eager participants ready to represent over 88% of electorates statewide. We received a record number of applicants this year, so we are positive that this is going to be the best year of YP yet!

For the second year in a row, we will not only have passionate young YMPs speak about issues in the Legislative Assembly, but also have YMLCs debate a range of important issued in the Legislative Council. We have more committees than ever before, meaning more young people will have the opportunity to have their say on a wider range of issues – from education to law reform, aboriginal affairs to health, family and community affairs to women’s rights, and many more! To see a full list, check out the “YMCA NSW Youth Parliament” tab on this blog.

To kick-start this year’s YMCA NSW Youth Parliament, we will be holding three (yes, that’s right, not ONE, but THREE) YP launches in just a few weeks’ time! For the first time ever, we will be holding two regional launches, in conjunction with the metro launch at NSW Parliament House.

The two regional launches, which will be held at Erina and Wollongong, will also be held in conjunction with two YMCA Think Tanks, so that passionate young people from around the state can voice their opinions on important issues affecting them. Remember, you don’t have to be a part of Youth Parliament to participate. All young people are invited!

So, come along to one of the following YP launches:

  • 21st February: Erina Centre
  • 24th February: Wollongong Library
  • 27th February: NSW Parliament House

For more information about the Think Tanks, check out the “YMCA Think Tank” tab on this blog.

In the meantime, bookmark this page, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@NSWYthParl) to keep up to date with what the YP family is up to!



Indigenous Bill Freed from Legislative Assembly

Monday in the Legislative Assembly was finished off by Aboriginal Affairs, with Youth MPs debating the Indigenous Juvenile Justice and Incarceration Bill. Chaired by the Hon. Linda Burney MP, the first Indigenous woman elected to NSW Parliament, the Bill proposed reforms to the NSW justice system, aiming to reduce rates of recidivism and incarceration amongst Indigenous people. The Youth Government, refuting the Bill, agreed that Indigenous young people are not supported by the justice system. The proposed solutions to this issue were vigorously debated, with the Youth Government accusing the Youth Opposition of not going far enough to provide a deterrent.

This is currently a hot issue in NSW. Indigenous young people are 24 times more likely to be held in detention (compared to non-Indigenous young people) and are 187% more likely to reoffend. Combined with the fact that only 2% of police are Indigenous, this shows the justice system in NSW is not working well with Indigenous young people.

In the debate, the main point of contention was the Youth Government’s insistence that the Bill be amended so that punitive fines remain a form of punishment. They justified this as it would lower the incarceration rate, considering that without fines available to the courts as an option, more Indigenous young people would be gaoled instead. The Youth Opposition defended the original Bill by arguing that the cost of fines placed a tremendous financial burden on Indigenous young people and their parents, preventing rehabilitation of the offender. During consideration in detail, the Youth Government proposed an amendment to retain punitive fines, which was passed 56-21.

Another recurring theme of this debate, in line with other debates today, was the role of education. A system of education involving police and local elders was proposed by the Youth Opposition, but the Youth Government argued this wasn’t thorough enough, and successfully moved for an amendment to introduce mandatory legal education into the high school curriculum. Ultimately the Indigenous Juvenile Justice and Incarceration Bill passed the Legislative Assembly with 60 votes to 17, the largest margin of the day. It now goes to the Legislative Council, where it will be debated on Tuesday.

Welcome to YMCA NSW Youth Parliament Sitting Week 2013

Snaps from Opening Ceremony

YMCA NSW Youth Parliament 2013

YMCA NSW Youth Parliament 2013

Youth Premier Theodora Von Arnim and The Hon. Barry O'Farrell MP, NSW Premier

Youth Premier Theodora Von Arnim and The Hon. Barry O’Farrell MP, NSW Premier

The inaugural YP Legislative Council

Governor Geeth Geeganage addressing the chamber

Governor Geeth Geeganage addressing the chamber

From YMP to Press Gallery…


It’s safe to say that in the three years that I have been a part of YMCA NSW Youth Parliament (as both a member and now a Press Gallery Intern), my life has been changed in ways many couldn’t imagine.

My name is Brendan Pearce and over the course of 2011-12 I had the privilege to serve as Youth Member for Lismore, presenting the issues of greatest concern in my electorate to the members of YMCA NSW Youth Parliament.  During my time as a member I was honoured to hold both shadow ministerial and ministerial roles. However despite the roles I had, the elements of Youth Parliament that I will be forever grateful for are the skills in leadership, advocacy and parliamentary knowledge. These skills have had ripple effects far greater than I would have ever imagined.

Continue reading

Wise words from a pastie

(For those new to YP lingo, pastie = past participant)

2011, 2012, 2013. Those are the years that I have had the privilege and honour of being part of the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament program. Given that this is sadly my final year that I can remain involved as a participant, I feel that it is time to share with you all some of the things that I have picked up along the way.

First and foremost, there are a few things that are essential to bring to Residential Camp.

Be prepared to say hello to sleep deprivation with very little sleep throughout the week. Say goodbye to sleep deprivation with a glorious Cup of Joe! BRING COFFEE OR YOU WILL NOT FUNCTION. I cannot put it more simply!

We will spend a great deal of time throughout the camp looking spiffy when we…


… for Parliament. Do not forget however to bring some comfort clothes (INCLUDING DEM UGGIES!) for the mornings and nights around Parliament. I mean, looking good is cool, but staying in your formal clothes for the whole camp?


Do not forget to bring plenty of lollies. There are times throughout the week, and by times I mean every waking second, where you will be in dire need of a sugar hit. Late nights spent writing speeches and reviewing legislation, go hand in hand with bags upon bags of lollies!

On a more serious note, bring a folder and plenty of writing paper. If three years of Youth Parliament have taught me one thing, it is that the seats around the Chambers of Parliament are nowhere near as comfortable as they look.

There is very little space to spread out and mark your territory (maybe in an effort to discourage MPs getting too comfortable in their positions haha!), so a folder to compile all of your notes and speeches is far more useful than you may think!

Also, you will be writing many speeches for the open floor debates at the last minute, and passing many notes to colleagues in Parliament, so bring plenty of writing paper and blank palm cards.

Strepsils and lozenges are also a must! Spending over a week in a confined space with 160+ people, along with sleep deprivation, can lead to the infamous Resi Flu! There’s no beating it, don’t even try, this isn’t a very common cold…

It is a disastrous condition, which is amplified by the sadness you will feel after completing YP, and hangs around for weeks. If you fall ill earlier than expected, yelling (productively?) at one another in the Chamber, Parliament is made a little bit harder (enter Strepsils).

Sleep. Do not forget to sleep. You will be tempted to stay up all night braiding each others hair and whatnot, but I beg you to get what little sleep you can.

I’ll let you in on a secret… The skylights in Parliament of an afternoon are the devil. The sun hits the right spot at around 3 o’clock, and from then on all natural light entering the chamber is dampened somewhat, and has the magical property of being able to draw you into an ill-timed snooze. Do not fall into the light! Sleep at night, and get the most out of your Parliamentary experience during the day.

Again, bring plenty of paper.
On the last night of YP, rule out the aforementioned concept of sleep.Instead, you will spend all night writing nice messages to all YMPs, for them to take home and feel all warm and fuzzy when they read them. (Please note: I expect a warm and fuzzy from everyone! AND I’m not one to say no to the occasional Hot and Steamy :P)


All kidding aside though, I encourage everyone to get up and make the most out of their Youth Parliament experience. Take part in the debates, get up and voice your opinions! Get to know as many fellow YMPs as you can, and feel confident in your values and views. Be prepared for a life changing experience. Expect passionate, informative, and at times emotional debate.

And if there is anyone who is reading this that isn’t directly involved in the program, you probably are totally confused by everything that I have said. BUT lucky for you, if you want to find out more, you can come and watch YMCA NSW Youth Parliament in action in both houses of NSW Parliament on the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th of July.

The Honourable Brydan Toner, MLC
Deputy Leader of the Youth Government in the Legislative Council
(Lover of all things YP) – also known as that smashing young man in the above photo

Thanks to past participant, and 2012 Youth Parliamentarian of the Year for passing on his wise words of advice. Follow him on Twitter at @BrydanToner to catch all the action from the Legislative Council during #YP2013 sitting week!

Getting ready for Resi; the Do’s and Don’ts

With just seven days until participants travel from all over NSW for the annual YMCA NSW Youth Parliament, members of the YP Taskforce are going into overdrive preparing sessions, sorting out activities and getting ready to host 160 participants at our residential camp in Yarramundi.

But aside from putting the last minute touches on those speeches, and brushing up on bills, what should participants be doing to get ready for YP? Our incredible taskforce, made up entirely of former participants, offered some advice in the lead up to what we’ve all been waiting months for! Here you have it, the dos and don’ts for getting ready for resi!

DO suit up. “Try on your parliament outfits before you pack them. Ensure you have enough clothes, or clothes that are versatile enough to be worn over four days in the chamber.” Shine those shoes, and whatever shoes you do plan on wearing, “ensure you can walk in them from 6:00am to 7:00pm at night.” Girls – pack however many pairs of stockings you think you’ll need, and then pack some more. “Stockings rip. Quite easily. It’s a sad, but true, fact of life.”

Also, start planning what you’re taking with you now. “Make a list of what you’ll need. This ain’t no ad hoc camp – think in advance because you’ll really regret forgetting that left shoe at home.”

DON’T forget where you’re going to be. “Any person in a suit is a potential MP. So don’t tell Barry O’Farrell that you ‘really need to pee’.”

DO bring a coat “Because 5am and 2 degrees aren’t a good mix.” Fill those bags with more clothes than you’ll think you need – Yarramundi is freezing, and the more layers, the better. “Ain’t nobody got time to be sick on this camp. Bills to debate, laws to pass, Members of Parliament to meet – the last thing you need is a runny nose.” Also a good idea – uggboots and onesies of any kind.

DON’T forget your towel. “Unless air drying outside in the wind is your kind of thing.” Same goes for basic necessities like pillows, blankets and toothpaste.

DO remember your parliamentary etiquette lessons! “If you do mock trial, get out of the habit of referring to an authority as ‘Your Honour’ in public speaking.” No jokes. It’s been done before.

DON’T, I repeat, don’t, worry about media coverage. Many of you have done a great job so far creating buzz for the program, but we’ll take it from here. “Our media taskies are all over that, and are waiting to unleash their talents on the first sitting day.”

DO get plenty of sleep the week before. There will be plenty of early starts and late nights next week, and dozing off in the chamber isn’t a good look (this has also been done before – points for guessing which taskie was notorious for this)

DON’T lose your voice. “Don’t scream your lungs out at the TV watching football… otherwise you won’t be able to speak.” Which will definitely impede your ability to recite those speeches that have been months in the making!

DO bring a costume! “The more outlandish the costume, the better.” This year’s theme is ‘Lights, Camera, Action’, so pick a character from your favourite flick and get to work. And be warned, if you forget, “Michelle will kill you.”

DON’T forget to bring a white cotton shirt or singlet, or even a bandana. And given the nature of the activities the taskies are been planning, “be willing to ruin it.”

DO – start preparing those acts for Yarramundi Idol. “If they can sing, dance, act, or none of the above, they need to get ready to perform.” But no camera phones out during the performances. Regardless of whether you want to have your cigarette light app at the ready in case someone belts out a ballad, no recording equipment allowed!

And finally, DON’T “forget to pack enthusiasm. You’ll need it.”

This piece was contributed by one of our fabulous Press Gallery Interns, Maddie James. Follow her on Twitter at @itsmaddiejames to keep up with the happenings of #YP2013