Queensland Youth Parliament

A.B. Paterson College is proud to report that, in 2020, we have two representatives in Queensland Youth Parliament – Year 11 students, Jodie Down and Angelina Inthavong – an extraordinary achievement!

Here, both students reflect upon their recent meetings with state and federal representatives in our region. Jodie and Angelina would like to encourage all students to consider applying for Youth Parliament in future years.

This year I am very fortunate to serve a second year in the Queensland Youth Parliament as the Youth Member for Warrego, so I recently met with Stuart Robert, MP for Fadden, the Federal electorate our College resides in, to discuss pertinent issues facing our local and wider community.

As an editor of our College student newspaper, The Brumby Bulletin, I wanted to interview Mr Robert to gain his insight into the role of A.B. Paterson College students in helping the Gold Coast and Australia prosper, to then share his invaluable advice with the student body. One of the highlights of the experience was Mr Robert’s response to my question on the importance to our nation of students embodying our College Motto, Excellence, Care and Commitment:

“[they are] all good aspirations. Commitment is in short supply… [but] we need stability and certainty… [especially] in the shadow of a health crisis. [For this we] require hard work and delayed gratification…[but] we can’t have robots; society doesn’t care if society doesn’t know how much you care.”

I am extremely grateful to Mr Roberts for giving up time in his busy schedule to consult with me. More of Mr Robert’s guidance will be available to students in the next edition of The Brumby Bulletin

Jodie Down
Year 11 – Youth Member for Warrego

Two weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to chat over coffee with the State Opposition Leader, Deb Frecklington, State Member for Bonney, Sam O’Connor and Youth Member for Theodore, Jordan Engel.

I was ecstatic in the face of an opportunity to voice my opinions on real issues and gain insight from one of the most senior politicians in the state. At 9am, we met at Chirn Park Café, Ground N Sound, within my electorate of Bonney. To be honest, when I first met Mrs Frecklington, it was odd not shaking hands. COVID-19 has certainly changed the way many businesses function. For a while, we chatted with the owners about how COVID-19 had impacted them and the immense importance of supporting small local businesses during this tough time.

As soon as we sat down, Mrs Frecklington asked Jordan and I why we signed up to represent our electorates in Youth Parliament. For myself, it was the potential to speak to the leaders of our state and better voice the needs and issues facing younger generations, which are – in my opinion – sometimes neglected. We then chatted about the exciting prospects of the youth bills we were creating in our committees. 

Jordan talked about the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Bill he was helping to write to reform the criminal justice system, whilst I spoke about the Health and Disability Services Bill covering the establishment of a Queensland Disability Advisory Council, disability awareness education and inclusive relationships and sexuality education.

We then spoke about the main issues facing our generation – with COVID-19, a strong feature – from opportunities for entering university and employment to mental health and period poverty (lack of access to feminine hygiene products often associated with homelessness and poverty).

I then asked Mrs Frecklington about her experiences with politics and how she came to pursue this career. It was amazing to learn from such a strong woman and mother. From our chat, I gained a newfound respect and admiration for women in politics who are breaking through glass ceilings and encouraging and inspiring other young women to follow in their footsteps.

One thing she said that I took away was, “if you find yourself doing something you don’t love then leave and find something that you do love… I didn’t come from a very influential family – we were very middle-class workers – so, if someone had told my parents and I, at your age, that I was going to become the Leader of the Opposition when I grew up, we would have just laughed.”

I feel that Queensland Opposition Leader, Deb Frecklington is proof that, with passion, courage, determination and kindness, anything can be achieved. Therefore, according to her words, “we shouldn’t ever limit ourselves”.  

As our meeting came to an end, I thanked them all so much for this once in a lifetime opportunity and wished both Mrs Frecklington and Mr O’Connor the best of luck with their jam-packed day ahead. We don’t often get to see the countless hours our MPs spend trying to hear everyone’s opinions so that they can best represent the needs of their constituents and try to forge a better future for our great state. At times we also forget the initiative and insight our younger generations have, but Youth Parliament has helped give youth a voice, make connections and develop a greater sense of what it means to be a leader and for this, I am forever grateful. Having met some of our state’s current and potential future leaders, I think it is safe to say that the future of Queensland rests in good hands.

Finally, a reminder that our state's election is in October, so please exercise your democratic right by voting and have your voice heard. Stay informed and, most of all, stay safe!

Angelina Inthavong
Year 11 – Youth Member for Bonn