YMCA Youth Parliament is a unique program in which the best and brightest youth engage with national politics and present real bills to Parliament on issues that affect them. Youth Parliament is not just an exercise, since its beginning in 2002 over half a dozen pieces of YMCA NSW Youth Parliament legislation have been passed into NSW Law, including the recent Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.
Year 11 John Therry Catholic High School, Rosemeadow student Hamani Tanginoa has been nominated in the program, as the Youth Member for Campbelltown, where 92 of the state’s most passionate students (45 females and 47 males) from Years 10, 11 and 12 will represent 64 of NSW’s state electorates. Over four sitting days in July, Hamani will get the opportunity to have his voice heard, debating in the ‘bear pit’ at NSW Parliament.
Held annually across Australia, Youth Parliament is designed to give young people a chance to be heard at the highest levels of state government on a wide range of relevant issues. The program, now in its 17th year, is about empowerment and advocacy, providing a platform for participants to try their hand at politics through legislative debate and decision making.
Hamani is incredibly proud of his nomination: “I applied for Youth Parliament because I wanted to see change and be an advocate for the youth of Campbelltown. I’m honoured to represent my electorate and school, and also Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong,” he said.
“Key issues significant to me are creative and performing arts and most importantly, Aboriginal education. As a performer, I care about performing arts and would love to see programs that help youth enhance their talent. I also care about Aboriginal education because as a proud Aboriginal man, I believe there isn’t much acknowledgement of the culture and the history that comes with it.”
Hamani recently met with the State Member for Campbelltown, Greg Warren, to discuss issues he wishes to advocate for: “I was blown away by Hamani’s passion, it became clear to me very quickly that Hamani cares deeply about the issues affecting his generation. He will be a great representative for Campbelltown’s young people,’’ Mr Warren said.
“Youth Parliament is a great opportunity for young people to stand up and have their voices heard about the issues they care about. Too often in public debate, young people’s voices aren’t heard or are simply ignored. Youth Parliament provides a great forum to ensure these voices are heard and to contribute to debate in some really important policy areas.”
Hamani is part of the program’s Education Committee and hopes to present a bill that encourages an advisory board handling funding for NSW schools. Ahead of the Parliament sitting days, participants attend training and residential camps where they receive education about public speaking and leadership, providing great personal and professional development.
“A highlight has been meeting this year’s participants and splitting into our Committees to start work on our bills,” Hamani said. “Another highlight has been preparing a petition that has a chance to be debated in Parliament. One of the best things has been to witness what ‘goes down’ at Parliament.”
“Hamani is a wonderful young man with a strong sense of who he is, an Indigenous student who is proud and passionate of his heritage. At John Therry we have a strong cultural recognition with many events linked to our Indigenous students. We provide students with opportunities to represent and perform at local events and transport for the local community and primary schools to also encounter these. I urge all to consider Hamani's petition,” school Principal, Wayne Marshall said.
Youth Parliament Coordinator, Angus Lonergan, shared “Hamani is a very passionate and articulate young person who is not afraid to have his voice heard. He is eager to learn from others and collaborate on a range of political ideologies for the purpose of collective impact - real politicians could learn a thing or two from the Youth Parliament participants,” he said.
“This year participants are tackling a number of important issues, ranging from domestic violence prevention and education, housing affordability for first home owners, inclusive diversity education and regional infrastructure development.”
After Year 12, Hamani is looking to pursue a career in teaching. “I’ve encountered many inspirational teachers and mentors throughout my schooling, including my own mum,” he said. “I’d like to teach secondary students in drama, religion, music, Aboriginal studies and VET entertainment. I’d also love to continue doing music on the side, my passion.”
“John Therry has encouraged me to participate in leadership opportunities, a significant influence in inspiring me to apply for Youth Parliament. The school community is an amazing platform to hear ideas from youth, it’s also a great way to create an awareness of my Youth Parliament petition. Attending John Therry over the past three years has completely changed my life, I now think about issues in our community a lot more and John Therry has taught me to speak out about these to create change.”
Youth Parliament not only gives a voice for young people to speak about issues they are passionate about, but sees them promoted as young advocates for change in their local communities.
For more information about the YMCA Youth Parliament program, see here