Sunday, October 18, 2009

Youth Parliament Camp 2009

I have always been quite interested in exploring and discovering the systems and structures in place in society and the role each of them plays in our society. One of these is the Parliament house of Victoria, which I have visited a few times previously, however, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I had the privilege and opportunity to experience and have a glimpse of the life of a Victorian State politician firsthand. It took place in a simulated environment and will always be an experience that I will never forget...

I know most would view Parliament house itself as quite an ordinary place, at least from the outside, yet inside the building you will find that it holds more secrets and history than one may realise. Its role is critical in ensuring that the various mechanisms and agencies of the institution keep up to speed with the current issues of today.


Our bill
Now my team (Ethic Youth Council) and I presented in the Legislative Council chamber, which is the red room, where the main bill that my team were part of the Opposition (there are two sides within the chamber - Government and Opposition), and we were arguing for “Increased security on Victorian trains and stations”, where:

“This Bill proposes that, similar to the system in New York there will be a major increase in the security presence not only at train stations but also on trains. Furthermore the safety at train stations and the vicinity surrounding them will be upgraded to make facilities safer and more accessible.”

The bill was successfully passed through the debates with the Government, with a couple of amendments, nonetheless, it will now be considered by the relevant parties within the Victorian Parliament.


Adjournment speech
We were also all each given the opportunity to present an adjournment speech, i.e. an opportunity to speak about any topic or issue that we believed that a relevant Minister should consider. My speech was on the need to increase the safety and security of cyclist paths across Victoria, for both cyclists and runners.

I choose this because, as a runner, I always find it quite difficult to find those ‘safe’ paths and trails that I am able to run during any time, day or night, since most trails run through parks and secluded areas where it is quite unsafe or risky to ride/ run when it starts to get dark. You can always run on the standard footpaths, however it is not fluid and continuous and as safe if you are going at a fast pace, so the need to connect these trails further, improve the lighting, position and/or distance the paths so that they are safe from cars and trucks is vital.

Given the climate change, health and obesity, and other surrounding and emerging issues and challenges, the significance of ensuring that there are adequate paths for cyclists and runners will be essential to enabling individuals to have an alternative option to vehicles. One in which they can feel safe to ride/ run on, rather than feeling that they have to risk their lives as everyday as many are today. Resulting in those tragic accidents that appear on the news from time to time (e.g. cyclist dies in collision...)


The camp itself
Outside Parliament house, the camp itself was a very vibrant and enjoyable experience. It was hosted by great facilitators where they created an environment where one can feel that one can be oneself and connect with others through the fun activities (to learn about Parliament and ourselves) and the numerous costume parties that were held! We had a jungle, medieval and fantasy party where I was a Viet jungle warrior, musketeer and Captain Cook respectively!


More information
For those interested in the camp or the program, it’s called the YMCA Youth Parliament Camp 2009. It ran from 27th September - 2nd October 2009. It’s a great opportunity to learn and experience the ins and outs of Parliament firsthand and to meet and make new friends! I highly recommend it to those who are curious about society and how one can contribute to it.