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Work Experience… with a difference!

Year 10 student, Stella, has been in Canberra conducting a Work Experience placement with Rebekha Sharkie, Member for Mayo (SA). She has prepared a reflection about this experience that we are delighted to share with you.

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I’m Stella and I’m in Year 10. Last week I completed my work experience in parliament house with the independent, Rebekha Sharkie and her team. In Year 10, students are encouraged to spend a week doing work experience in an industry that inspires them. I have a lot of interests, one being politics and I found an incredible experience where I can explore this interest further.

During my time in Canberra, I helped write 90-second speeches that would be read out in Parliament as well as longer ones on important issues on behalf of Sharkie. I also helped write summaries of meetings, current issues, and events for her. I loved writing about issues that directly affected the country and having the opportunity to witness history in the making. 

My favourite thing to write was a speech on behalf of Sharkie about an organisation granting other young women and gender-diverse Australians the opportunity to have a voice in parliament. After some editing, she will hopefully give my speech in the next sitting week. You may like to watch the recording below or read the official statement.

A recent study found that only 4% of young Australians have absolute confidence in our current approach to solving global challenges. That means that we are currently facing a great trust deficit with the youth of Australia. Additionally, LGBTIQ+ MPs only make up 3.5%. It is time for Parliament to reflect the Australian populous. 

I am currently the Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Young People, and I take that role very seriously. We work closely with young people and youth-led organisations to discuss matters relating to areas of policy that affect young Australians. It is crucial that young Australians are included in the conversations that concern them.

Although great efforts have been made to increase gender diversity in parliament, many Australians remain underrepresented in Parliament House, further contributing to the lack of trust amongst young Australians. Representation in power positions is essential. They are the future of Australia and it is our responsibility to encourage them to engage in their future. As the Representative of the Youth of Mayo, I strive to include their voices.

To achieve this goal, I am one of the 45 MPs, across the political spectrum, who have partnered with the ‘Raise Our Voice’ organisation. The initiative cultivates an environment conducive to gender-diverse youth engagement and empowerment. They focus on amplifying diverse young female and non-binary voices, giving them the platform to lead the conversations in politics, domestic policy, and foreign policy that they are so often ignored and neglected.

They created the opportunity for young Australians younger than 21 years old, of all ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and disabilities to write and submit 90-second speeches regarding issues that they feel are important. MPs like myself, who support the organisation, are given the opportunity to read these speeches in parliament and give the youth that we represent a direct voice in their future.

‘Raise Our Voice’ also hosts 10-week online programs to empower and educate the youth of Australia in the process of policy-making. They have exceptional results from these programs. In 2020, 100% of their participants saw themselves as potential leaders in public decision-making at the conclusion of the program, an increase from 63% at the beginning of the program. I strongly believe that this program is integral to the inclusion of young and diverse voices in this space.

It is a privilege to engage with the youth of my community through this organisation and I encourage everyone to do the same.

I enjoyed this Work Experience opportunity immensely and am inspired to continue my engagement in politics and potentially pursue a career in this sphere in the future. 

Thank you so much to Rebekha Sharkie for the unforgettable experience and her amazing team who were helpful, hilarious and welcoming. I would also like to thank our Careers Counsellor, Bronte Howell, who helped me organise this.

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