Youths take rural matters to Melbourne

REPRESENTATIVE: Emma Thompson, left, Hamish Laity, Lillian Tracey, Sonia Zobel, Cheyenne Widdison and Harry Lodge took the views of Gannawarra's teenagers to the YMCA Youth Parliament.

REPRESENTATIVE: Emma Thompson, left, Hamish Laity, Lillian Tracey, Sonia Zobel, Cheyenne Widdison and Harry Lodge took the views of Gannawarra's teenagers to the YMCA Youth Parliament.

SIX local youths took to State Parliament in Melbourne last week to put forward an issue most important to them. 

Through the YMCA Youth Parliament program, team members from the Gannawarra Shire brought the issue of access and distribution of irrigation water to the forefront.

In a tough debate with 54 other young people from across the State, the Gannawarra Shire team successfully had their Bill passed, which will see it handed to parliament for further consideration. 

Team member, Hamish Laity said the Bill is about bringing back water to Victorian farms.

"New South Wales legislation makes more sense than what is currently in place in Victoria," he said. 

"When my family and I went to buy a farm in NSW the previous owner didn't have enough water shares for the total farm land… He had to then go and buy more water so that he could sell it to us.

"When I look at the NSW legislation and how that stops farms from being sold with no water it makes a lot more sense than the Victorian way," he said.

Fellow team member, Harry Lodge says their community will be extremely proud.

"Lots of people in our local area are struggling with dead farms," he said.

"For them to see that this is an issue that the youth are concerned about [will] make them hopeful for the future."

For some of the students participating in the Youth Parliament program not only boosts confidence and builds lifelong friendships, but it is also an excellent training ground for future political involvement. 

Through the experience, Lilleah Tracey would one day love to get into politics as it is her passion.

"Ever since coming here it's been the greatest thing I've ever done," she said.

"I love speaking out for others, and I hope to go overseas sometime next year to find out views from around the world… and see what I can do to help improve our nation."

More than 3000 young Victorians have participated in the Youth Parliament program since its inception, passing more than 20 Bills which have been enacted into Victorian legislation. These include laws covering the mandatory wearing of bike helmets and nightclub safety reforms.

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