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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2021) . . Page.. 2069 ..

This is not about gaining votes for progressive political parties, as some have insinuated. Contemporary research from Monash University shows that 18-year-olds do not vote progressively en masse but weigh up a range of social, economic and political factors just like the rest of us. This should not come as a shock. As I have already demonstrated in this speech, young people are not one homogenous group but represent the diversity of society as a whole.

Withholding the vote from young people is an issue of national and local justice, and I look forward to continuing this conversation in the Assembly. Young people deserve this motion today. Young people are this motion today. I commend it to the Assembly, and I look forward to any discussions forthwith with any members, regardless of their political party, on the continuing participation of young people in ACT democracy.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (4.13): I am happy to support this motion today, which builds on the government’s support for young people participating in collective action. I have grown up attending protests, marches, strikes and pickets for most of my life as a young person and in my working life, continuing on into this place. Who would I be if I did not support organised action? That is why I was happy in the previous Assembly to jointly move a motion with Mr Rattenbury in reiterating the government’s support for youth-led action to secure a sustainable future in a time of climate emergency. It is great to see that newer members in this Assembly are joining that interest in this important issue.

I will always support school students and young people participating in collective action to improve our communities. As I have said before, participation in activism such as the climate strike is a learning experience too. Education does not just happen in the class. The government understands that today’s children and young people, including students in ACT schools, will live in a world that legislators and policymakers like us leave them. When young people show leadership and use their voice, it is important that members of this Assembly listen.

As the motion states, the government’s future of education strategy places students at the centre of their learning. In fact, they made up the majority of the contributions during its development. I hear from young people that they want a say in what and how they learn. We know that when students have agency, they are more likely to engage in their learning.

As Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, I listen to the advice of students and young people through the Student Congress and the Youth Assembly, as well as my Youth Advisory Council. The last Student Congress was just last month and I was happy to hear all the great ideas that students have from public primary schools, high schools and colleges. The theme chosen by students was “Creating respectful school environments”, and I am looking forward to hearing about how the ideas they created on that day are being implemented in public schools across Canberra.

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