Youth Parliament is a program run by YMCA Youth Services that gives young people a chance to be heard at the highest levels of the Victorian Government. Through this program, young people between the ages of 16 and 25 can share their views on a wide range of issues relevant to their lives.
Victorian Youth Parliament at a Glance
The Victorian Youth Parliament supports young people aged 16-25 years old to speak up and be heard about issues that they are passionate about.
In a team of six, Youth Parliamentarians are supported in writing a Bill which addresses a state-based issue that they would like to see changed or added into Victorian legislation. Bills are introduced into the Youth Parliament, debated and voted upon during the sitting week held in the chambers of Parliament House, Victoria. Upon conclusion of the sitting week, all passed Youth Parliament Bills are officially handed to the Minister for Youth to be disseminated to the relevant state Members of Parliament.
In addition to debates, Victorian Youth Parliamentarians will engage in a range of personal and professional development sessions during the residential camps, run to experiential learning principles. Residential camps will also provide the Youth Parliamentarians space to engage in the community of change-makers coming together from across the state to partake in the program.
Although not a requirement, teams are typically drawn together by a school, local council, or organisation within Victoria. Each team has an allocated Resource Person who coordinates the team application, recruits and supports the team members, and acts as the main point of call should any issues with the team arise. This may be a teacher, staff member, or motivated team member. The resource person does not attend camp (unless they are one of the six team members), but ensures that the team is adequately supported and prepared for camp.
The program is run by a team of experienced young volunteers called the Taskforce, who develop and deliver all sessions and opportunities for Youth Parliamentarians to engage in.
(Exact dates to be released when applications open)
In term one to term two, teams will meet periodically with a mentor from the Taskforce. In these meetings, participants will brainstorm and elect their three most preferred Bill topics. Once a topic is assigned, participants will then draft and finalise their Bill. Mentors will also introduce teams to parliamentary debates through training on debate structure and parliamentary etiquette. Outside of the residential components of the program, participants will also be given the opportunity to meet with a stakeholder and / or Member of Parliament to discuss their Bill and ideas for change.
The three-day residential training weekend combines a variety of skill and knowledge building to prepare participants for the Youth Parliament sitting week. Across the weekend participants will:
- learn the basics of democracy and voting;
- be trained in talking to the media and be interviewed by the Youth Press Gallery about their Bill for articles to be published;
- complete their training (begun in mentor meetings) on parliamentary etiquette and debate;
- engage in practice parliamentary debates;
- meet the chamber (group of four other teams) who they will work with as a larger team on the Youth Parliament sitting week;
- develop soft skills such as confidence and leadership through experiential learning in recreational sessions;
- have the opportunity to run for extra leadership positions such as chamber leader and Youth Premier.
Week of Camp / Sitting Week
The six-day residential ‘Week of Youth Parliament’ camp combines debating and recreation for participants to apply the training they have received and continue to engage in the community of change-makers established on the training weekend.
On three of the camp days (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday), participants and Taskforce will travel by bus to Parliament House in Melbourne to conduct debates. Teams will sponsor (debate for) their Bill, and be the main refuter (debate against) for one other team’s Bill. In all other debates, participants will collaborate with their chamber to speak either for or against other Bills. Participants will also be given the opportunity to give an adjournment speech: a two minute speech directed to a state MP about a passion of the individual’s that needs to be changed or improved within the state of Victoria.
Back at the campsite, participants will be provided with many opportunities to engage with their peers and create community and long-lasting memories through recreational and social activities.
How to apply
Team applications for the 2024 Youth Parliament program will open in late 2023. To ensure that you don't miss applications opening, register for our mailing list below.
The first Australian YMCA Youth Parliament was held in Brisbane in 1963. 116 young people from all states spent two weeks in preparation for, and presentation of, the 1963 Youth Parliament in the Legislative Council of the Queensland Parliament. In 1985, the State Director of the YMCA Victoria, Mr Dave Davis, put forward the idea of developing and presenting a Youth Parliament to a group of young people from around Victoria who represented their local YMCAs. Victoria's first Youth Parliament was held in the Legislative Council, Parliament House, September 1987.
In the Victorian Youth Parliament's 35+ year history, more than 30 pieces of state legislation have originated in the Youth Parliament, including:
- Roadside drug testing for drivers
- Over the counter availability of the morning after pill
- Mandatory wearing of a bicycle helmet
- Removal of glass from identified high-risk entertainment venues
- Gun reformation laws