I’m proud to second this motion today, which celebrates that this week is Youth Voice in Parliament Week. Organised by the national campaign, Raise Our Voice Australia, young voters and voters to be across Australia have written speeches responding to the prompt: what change would make Australia a better place for future generations? I’ve been involved in this campaign for three years and I’m constantly inspired by what these young people have got to say. I was delighted to meet the founder of Raise Our Voice Australia, Ashleigh Streeter-Jones, on Thursday night at the Pathways to Politics Program in Melbourne.
As part of this year’s campaign, 22-year-old Jye McBurnie from Wodonga in my electorate of Indi has written a speech that addresses the scourge of family and domestic violence. I’m proud to raise Jye’s voice in parliament today. This is what he says:
On average whilst this speech is read an Australian police officer is dealing with a victim of Domestic and Family Violence. Another Officer on average will be called out to another Victim whilst the next member speaks, and so on and so on.
An issue that doesn’t discriminate against age, sex, religion, socio economic group.
Whilst we must acknowledge that Domestic and Family Violence is a national issue—it’s still a major taboo topic in rural and regional Australia with fear of stigma, shame, community gossip, privacy and perpetrator accountability deterring victims from seeking help and utilising local services.
Wodonga has seen a 17.2% increase in reported Family Violence since 2022 according to the Crime Statistics Victoria report.
I call on all parliamentarians including National Cabinet to work together on a consistent and national definition of Domestic and Family violence that includes the many abusive, coercive, and manipulative tactics used by perpetrators.
For a family violence free future, we all need to part of the solution.
Thank you, Jye, for being an advocate in this very important issue. I hope that we as parliamentarians can keep fighting to address family and domestic violence so that Australia can be a better, safer place for future generations.
Jye is one of many impressive people in my electorate, and one of the most rewarding parts of being in parliament is visiting the local schools, sporting groups, universities and organisations and talking to young people like Jye about what matters to them and what action they want from their parliamentary representatives. Even if they can’t all vote, they soon will, and it’s vital that we listen to them. It’s vital that their voices matter.
The top issues that students and young people talk to me about are climate change and access to education.
Last year I met two high school students from Indigo Shire, Charlie Pinard and Eadie Hartwig who are the brains behind the Climate Letter Project. They visit primary schools to talk about climate change and encourage younger students to write to the Prime Minister and ministers urging them to take action to reduce carbon emissions. These two young people blew me away. Charlie and Eadie are leading the way with their positive and inspiring message of hope and action.
Last month, I met with the student representative council, the leaders from FCJ College in Benalla who wanted to know what their leaders in Canberra are doing to reduce emissions through renewable energy or even the use of biofuels. They are acutely aware that right now those in power are not doing enough to make Australia a better place for them.
And just last week, I met with another impressive young person from Victoria called Anjali Sharma, who is part of a group of young people advocating for political leaders to act and safeguard the futures of younger generations from drastic climate change impacts.
These young people are not just talking about climate, they’re talking about meaningful steps to get us, as members of parliament, to listen. Anjali is leading a brave group of teenagers who are campaigning for parliament to pass the climate duty of care bill which Senator David Pocock introduced in August. The bill would ensure the decisions we make may result in substantial greenhouse gas emissions and must consider the impact they have on the health and wellbeing of Australian children and future generations.
It feels rather corny to say that young people are our future and, in fact, young people must be sick to death of hearing this. Young people are our now and they are already having an impact. I’m proud to bring their voices to this parliament today.