Senator Payman I'd like to see more educational school visits

Senator Fatima Payman ALP
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Senator Fatima Paymen  As a 27-year-old and as the youngest member of the 47th Parliament, my commitment to empowering the voices of young Australians is unquestionable. It is important that young people understand the power of their democratic right to vote in a country like Australia, when there are so many examples around the world where this right has been diminished. The assurance that the value of one person's vote is no different to that of another is something we cannot take for granted.

Speaking to fellow young people in Western Australia, I am always inspired by their passion for a better world. At the election in May this year, they knew there had to be a change to safeguard their future, and a change is what they got. Their voices are being heard by this government. Since being elected, we took immediate action on climate change, something young people are so passionate about and have been calling for for years. This restored our reputation on the world stage.

We've made TAFE more accessible and we've campaigned for wage increases and job security, so young people in our country can confidently support themselves whilst they’re studying or saving for their first home or to travel the globe. These are real changes that young people need, and we are delivering. The Albanese Labor government is a government young people can be certain has their back, now and always, unlike what they have known for most of their lives under those on the other side. We have an incredible Minister for Youth in Dr Anne Aly, who is working tirelessly to engage with young people, for young people. I will always work in this place to increase enfranchisement, education and information about electoral matters so that young people understand the importance of our democracy.

With this in mind, now is not the time to lower the voting age without the proper consideration of Australia's electoral landscape. But it is time to consider practical ways of engaging with our youth and young people, to educate, empower and promote the democratic rights and freedoms we have as Australians. Some of these ideas are already in place and practised, while others are less frequent but just as important. I'd like to see more educational school visits, discussing with students their curriculum of humanities and social sciences, and how the theory they learn has practical implications on parliamentary operations, processes and procedures. I'd like to see more young people invited to roundtables about matters of importance to them. This will enable us to listen—to truly listen—to the challenges that are unique to our nation's youth and to brainstorm solutions constructively. It would also allow them to contribute towards the decision-making processes of legislation that will impact on their lives in the years to come.

I would like to see more invitations extended to young people to visit parliaments across our states and territories, or to shadow their member of parliament for a day or a week to understand and witness the hectic schedules of parliamentarians and to appreciate the behind-the-scenes work that we do. I would also like to see more young people involved in youth organisations, university clubs and Young Labor, for the people in my home state of Western Australia, which welcome young people of all ages and ensure they understand the political system before a ballot paper is shoved in their faces and they're asked to vote.

I believe in making informed decisions and being well-versed when casting my vote to elect a government that shares my values and which will implement policies for the greater good of all Australians—a government that is inclusive, progressive, responsible and compassionate. Labor has always been the party of meaningful electoral reform which creates a transparent and accessible electoral system. Future discussions about this issue in the context of Australia's democracy is something we are open to. But, as our electoral system exists today, young Australians are being represented in this parliament.

Attributed to the Parliament of Australia website. 

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