Campaign will raise the voices of region’s youth in federal parliament

Raise Our Voice Australia’s founder, Ashleigh Streeter-Jones and Cunningham MP, Sharon Bird

THE voices, views, and opinions of Illawarra’s young people will be heard in Federal Parliament this October as part of the inaugural Raise Our Voice in Parliament campaign.

More than 40 Federal MPs from across the political divide, including Cunnigham MP Sharon Bird, will read out 90-second speeches written by youth around Australia from the floor of Parliament.

Young people aged under 21 are invited to submit a speech on the topic ‘What is your vision for Australia in 20 years?’ for the chance to have their answer chosen as part of the Youth Voice in Parliament week.

Ms Bird said as a high school teacher before entering parliament, she has always been passionate about hearing the voices of young people about their hopes and aspirations for the future.

“One of my first speeches to a school group after being elected was about fighting cynicism and being active so I see this Raise Our Voice initiative as a great way to do this,” Ms Bird said.

“I am so looking forward to submissions from local young people – and there is still time to submit!”

MPs from every state and territory will take part, including MPs from the Liberal Party, Australian Labor Party, Australian Greens, The Nationals, and independents. Participating MPs will give up one of their speaking slots in October to deliver the chosen speeches.

The campaign is an initiative of Raise Our Voice Australia, a social enterprise providing training, mentoring and opportunities in politics and policy for young, diverse female and non-binary Australians. Raise Our Voice Australia has partnered with UNICEF, Generation Politics, YWCA, and Run For It to deliver the campaign, which is being co-led by Raise Our Voice Australia’s founder Ashleigh Streeter-Jones and Ruby Bisson.

Ms Streeter-Jones has been recognised for her work in getting more young women into politics.

“Raise Our Voice Australia is a social enterprise working to support the next generation of diverse public service leaders, politicians and public policy makers,” Ms Streeter-Jones said.

“We know our country’s young people are already leaders, particularly in the community and in non-government organisations. We’ve made it our mission to support Australia’s young people, especially young women and those from marginalised backgrounds, and provide them with skills, opportunities, and an understanding of how Australia’s public policies are made so they can create meaningful change for the future they want.”

Ms Bisson is a consent advocate, writer, and the director of Incredible Communications, and has ran the Youth Voice in Parliament campaign in 2018 with the Federal MP for Parramatta, Julie Owens.

“Most young Australians don’t possess a working knowledge of the Australian political system,” Ms Bisson said.

“Many don’t feel valued and heard by our policy makers either. Where is our future-focused government? Why is there such little recognition of the strength and influence of young people?

“At 18 I was passionate about social issues and hungry to learn more about politics but I couldn’t tell you the difference between the major parties. This campaign endeavours to increase the political literacy of young people, and connect them with resources to help develop their knowledge, understanding and confidence in Australian politics.”

Speeches will be delivered to the MPs office on October 1, which will be the final stage of submission.

Successful applicants will be contacted by October 10. Successful speeches will be presented to the Australian Parliament and public during the Youth Voice in Parliament week, which runs from October 18 to 21.

For further information, or to submit a speech, visit Raise Our Voice Australia.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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