YMCA NSW Youth Parliament
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|YMCA NSW Youth Parliament|
Youth Empowerment Programs Manager
Youth and Government Program Coordinator
Ruby Lyn Ward
Sydney, New South Wales,
The YMCA NSW Youth Parliament is an apolitical YMCA Youth Parliament program coordinated by the YMCA NSW, and acts as a platform for youth advocacy for 15- to 18-year-olds. Participants spend time in committees developing bills and reports and then attend a week-long camp during which the legislation, reports and other motions are debated in the NSW Parliament. Bills passed by both houses are given Royal Assent by the Youth governor and handed to the state Government and Opposition for consideration.
The YMCA NSW Youth Parliament is a YMCA sponsored youth model parliament programme. The program was first launched in 2002, attracting 32 participants representing regional teams from across New South Wales. The program has continued since and is in its 13th year. There is a YMCA youth parliament in every Australian State and Territory.
Youths aged 15–18 may apply for the program or seek selection from their local MP or MLC. Successful applicants are then sorted into committees according to their preferences and begin to create a bill or a report to amend an issue in NSW.
Participants generally represent their local Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislative Council and meet during a weekend long training camp where they learn the workings of the bearpit and how to create a bill or report. Youth MP's then spend time in the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council debating, amending and voting on bills and general motions, including Question Time.[non-primary source needed] In some cases, Bills that have been created have gone into real policy adopted by the state.
During the Training Camp, Youth MP's may nominate themselves for Premier. The top two participants are shortlisted from the preliminary vote. A final vote decides the Premier and Opposition Leader. From this vote, the Government and Opposition are generally decided and participants may nominate themselves for party leadership positions such as Deputy Premier, Leader of the House/Manager of Opposition Business and Treasurer. Since the addition of the bicameral parliament, further leadership positions have been made available to serve the Legislative Council, such as Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council.
Prior to this, Ministers and Shadow Ministers are elected by their committees to take on the role of lead sponsor or refuter of the portfolio. This is replicated in the Legislative Council with Chairpersons of committees and Ministers representing Legislative Assembly portfolios. There are additional leadership roles, such as Government Whip, Opposition Whip (in both houses) and Regional Ministers (in the Legislative Assembly)
The position of Youth Governor, voted in and selected by the volunteer taskforce and participants, is charged with overseeing and representing the program as well as signing off on bills that are passed. The current Youth Governor is Brydan Toner. Mr Toner had previously served in the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament as the Youth Member for South Coast in 2011 and 2012. He served as Attorney General in 2012 and prior to being elected as the Youth Governor of NSW in 2013, was a Youth Member of the Legislative Council and Deputy Leader of the Government.
Former Youth Governors
Mr Osmond served in the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament as the Member for Wollongong. He was sworn in as NSW's 10th Youth Governor in July 2011.
Mr Geegenage served in the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament as the Member for Blacktown. He was sworn in as NSW's 11th Youth Governor in July 2012.
Mr Toner served in the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament as the Member for South Coast. He was sworn in as NSW's 12th and current Youth Governor in July 2013.
The program is facilitated by a volunteer task force of past participants. The YMCA NSW Youth Parliament is the only Youth Parliament across Australia that does not receive funding from the State Government. YMCA funding and a dedicated volunteer taskforce continue to run Youth Parliament. The YMCA NSW Youth Parliament also offers the Press Gallery program. This is an internship program for eligible students facilitating experience in journalism, advocacy, public relations and political reporting as part of the Youth & Government suite of programs.[non-primary source needed]
The Youth Parliament has held conferences since 2002, creating and debating bills on a wide range of topics. The 2012 YMCA NSW Youth Parliament was held at SOPA at the Newington Armory in Sydney. It marks the last year that YP was held at SOPA before the move back to Yarramundi.[non-primary source needed]
The Youth Parliament passed the Same-Sex Marriage Matter of Public Importance (MPI) in 2012 with 70 ayes to 11 noes, with the largest majority of all Youth Parliaments in Australia debating this issue. The young parliamentary members represented the spectrum of opinions. One member stated his belief in the importance of the MPI as a member of the gay community, while another voted against the MPI due to religious beliefs.
In 2013, the Parliamentary and Legal Reform Committee Debated the Marriage Equality Bill 2013. This passed unanimously with 72 ayes to 0 noes. Following the passing of the Bill, the chamber began to sing 'Advance Australia Fair'. This is a first for the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament. The Bill also passed in the Legislative Council with 40 ayes to 4 noes.
- Kate Matthews. "Teens get taste of political life ; Students get an inside view of Parliament." Daily Examiner Grafton, N.S.W.. 2010. HighBeam Research. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- Evelyn Douglas, Jessica Harris (2008). Why Not the Best Schools?: The Australia Report. Australian Council for Education Research. p. 19. ISBN 0864319797.
- "Youth Parliament". YMCA Headquarters. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- "Youth Parliament | YMCA NSW Youth Parliament". Ymca Nsw. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- "Youth Parliament Press Gallery | Get Active | YMCA NSW - Servicing the Community for over 150 years!". Ymca Nsw. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- Friday, 6th of July 2012 (2012-07-06). "News Article | YMCA NSW Youth Parliament". Ymca Nsw. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- "Youth Parliament: Overwhelming support for marriage equality on". Samesame.com.au. 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2013-04-15.