Melinda Crole, YMCA Australia's CEO, was in Canberra today with Sophie MacDonald, who has been nominated as Youth Governor for NSW Youth parliament for 2019. They both attended the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in relation the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Lowering Voting Age and Increasing Voter Participation) Bill 2018. The YMCA had previously put in a submission, and today Sophie was able to deliver an address to Parliament (details below). What an exciting day!
"What we learnt and heard from the Royal Commission was that children and young people need to be heard. It is what protects them and also enables them. They have a voice and it is their right to be listened to. The value we can put on that voice, by saying, “you have a vote” shows our commitment to this as leaders. As Rhea 15 from the electorate of Banks says – none of the current opportunities for the voice of young people to be heard speaks as loud as the right to vote.
I have personally and professionally benefited from listening to our children and young people and I know Australia and Australians would also," - said Melinda.
"YMCA Australia at its core, believes in the power of inspired and engaged young people in determining the future of society. To further this notion, inspiring and engaging young people within the political processes of Australia, is critical to the future of society and democracy. Through introducing a non compulsory vote for 16 and 17 year olds, and allowing 14-15 year olds to register on the electoral role, this provides a formal and repercussive mechanism for young people to actively engage and contribute to the political process of Australia. Through passing this bill, Federal Parliament is sending a long-overdue and very important message to the young people of Australia, that their voices matter, and that their opinions are being heard and that they are valued," Sophie said. See Sophie's full address here.