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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2021) . . Page.. 2080 ..

currently in the Legislative Assembly doing work experience in my office. I set Katie the task of writing her own adjournment speech, as if she had my job for a day and could say whatever she wanted. This is what she had to say:

My name is Katie Jakab, and I am a year 11 student at UCSSC Lake Ginninderra College. I have many passions which have fuelled my interest in politics, particularly conservation of the environment and support for youth with mental health issues. Ensuring students thrive in a healthy school environment is of great importance to me, as is youth voice in the community. When I am older, I hope to continue advocating for these passions through politics. I am very grateful to be given the chance to observe the inner workings of the Legislative Assembly and to have the opportunity to convey my opinion on a topic of interest directly to the government. The condition of climate change and Australia’s environment are two things that will greatly affect mine and my peers’ future, which is why I hope to provide a youth perspective on the issue.

The condition of the ACT’s environment has improved throughout the past years with the decrease of single use plastics in stores and the territory now running on 100 per cent renewable energy. While this is the case, there is still much more that Australia must do to decrease waste production. According to Australia’s 2020 National Waste Report, Australia produced 74.1 million tonnes of waste from 2018-2019. The rate of recycling increased by only 2% within those years. As time goes on, the current generation of students will become the country’s decision makers and will have to address the issues of waste production.

Schools play a large role in the lives of young people. They form the knowledge and skills of adolescents, preparing them for future careers and life decisions. Along with this, schools play a large role informing the perceptions, values, and beliefs of students regarding both local and global issues. I believe, Madam Speaker, that the role schools play in the lives of adolescents gives them an excellent opportunity to further educate students on how to protect the environment. While many schools have fantastic programs to foster sustainable practices, there is still much more that could be done. Many schools continue to lack an effective waste management system and school canteens continue to sell single use plastic cutlery. Along with this, there is often a lack of student understanding surrounding the importance of climate action and sustainable practices, a topic that could be better taught within the classroom.

Madam Speaker, I would now like to suggest some possible responses to address this issue.

A simple action could be to ban the use of plastic cutlery in school canteens. Plastic forks and straws could be replaced with wooden cutlery, paper straws, and paper cups. The expense of eco-friendly cutlery has so far been a disincentive for canteens looking to avoid single use plastics, which is why it may be necessary for the government to provide a greater budget to school canteens. An even more sustainable option would be to use reusable cutlery that could be brought back to canteens after use.

A further step schools could take to improve their sustainability would be to introduce an effective waste management system. In my past high school, UC High School Kaleen, the waste system lacked efficiency. Up until last year, the

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