Last Week, I attended the YMCA Youth Parliament Program, which is an apolitical program for students 15 - 18 years. The program allows students to discuss issues that affect them individually but also that affect young people in their represented electorate. It was a week long camp where students from around New South Wales debated, amended and voted on a series of bills at the New South Wales Parliament House. All participants were assigned a committee and within the committee we came together on an issue that we all believed to be important. Throughout last term, we constructed a bill which we presented in parliament last week.

I was assigned the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Committee and our bill was called ‘The Transition into a Sustainable NSW Bill 2018.’ The purpose of the bill is to minimise New South Wales’ reliance on non-renewable sources and in doing so advance New South Wales’ production and adoption of non-renewables and create easy pathways for people and companies to transition towards renewables. We were fortunate that this bill and its amendments passed and we hope that this bill can be adopted into a real policy by the State Government.

This was an incredible privilege to represent my school electorate Epping, and my home electorate of Hornsby, in advocating for the needs of the youth. This experience has opened up new opportunities for me and it has allowed me to step outside my comfort zone. This experience was both empowering for me and for the 90 other participants in this program. I was put in situations were I had to stand up for my faith and beliefs and at times it was difficult but from those experiences I believe I have grown in courage and strength.

These experiences have also encouraged me to do more and to stand up for pressing issues in my community, particularly, the issue of domestic violence against women and children. This is a major issue affecting Australia. Domestic violence is in no way acceptable. I would like to raise more awareness of the issue particularly for victims of domestic violence, to reassure them that it is ok to speak out and seek help. I would like to do this through awareness days and by donating to charities that support victims of domestic violence.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr George and Mrs Sakr for this opportunity and to my parents and friends for supporting me.

By Matilda Wiggins, Year 11