YOUTH VOICE IN PARLIAMENT PROGRAM: IN TWENTY YEARS BY TEGAN WARE

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:01):   It's a great pleasure and indeed an honour for me to be able to make this contribution to the parliament today. Like so many of my colleagues, I took up the invitation to participate in the Youth Voice in Parliament program, which encouraged young people to write very short essays on where they would like to see Australia in 20 years time. I think this is a great initiative. Obviously, as a former high school teacher, I'm always very keen to see young people contributing their ideas to the national debate. It's sadly too often the case that people are encouraged to be cynical, which really doesn't get you anywhere at the end of the day; it's participation and being involved that makes a difference. I want to acknowledge all the young people in my area who made submissions to this campaign. They were all excellent short speeches that were contributed for my consideration, and that made the choice very difficult. So I do want to individually thank all of the local young people who submitted their ideas to me. That included Bethany Hopkins, Ella Lee, Katrina Beretov, Liam Galloway, Hayley van Duin, Nia Fleury, Poppy Treloar, Kate L, Erin Tucker, Charlotte McIntyre, Zoie Carruthers, Zoe Simpson and Adrielle Palmer. Thank you to each and every one of you.

I have chosen to read the short speech submitted by Tegan Ware because I was so impressed with the range of challenges facing our nation that she managed to canvas in such a short speech. Here is Tegan's speech: 'In 20 years, I hope a lot of things are different. I want the traditional custodians of this land to get their land back and their history taught. I want women to be believed instead of dismissed. In 20 years, I want gorgeous places like the Great Barrier Reef to exist for the next generation to see, instead of a story we will just tell our children that they won't ever quite believe. I want there to be stricter and more impactful policies about climate change to ensure the protection of these beauties. I hope, in 20 years, it's not too late. But, more than anything, I hope we can look to our government and see people that truly reflect us—all cultures, all genders, all sexualities, all disabilities and all social and economic standings. I hope we don't accept a room full of white men who do not understand the experience of women, of immigrants, of people living with disabilities, of Indigenous people. The list goes on and on. I hope we are above accepting the bare minimum from our governments. I hope a token minority is not the gold standard. I hope, in 20 years, I won't have to still be asking for these things.' So do I. Thank you very much, Tegan.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.