Legal triumph

July 10, 2017

Shepparton secondary students (Left to right) Mustafa Abbasi, Reza Ghollami, Johnny Cross, Seyma Topal, Nargis Sadiqi and Busra Kavic at Victorian Parliament.

Shepparton secondary school students have succeeded in passing an anti-racial discrimination bill through the Victorian Youth Parliament after presenting ideas on the value of education and consequences of racism.

Group representative Nargis Sadiq said her fellow Shepparton students were passionate about the issue.

‘‘It’s something we have experienced or our family members have experienced,’’ Ms Sadiq said.

The team of Shepparton High School Year 12 legal studies students and a Wanganui Park Secondary College student were in Melbourne for nine days and lived the life of Victorian politicians — spending three days in Victorian Parliament debating on bills presented by 20 teams of young people aged 16 to 25.

‘‘It was amazing — our team really enjoyed developing leadership skills having our voices heard debating on our own bills and others we were passionate about,’’ Ms Sadiq said.

‘‘We worked on our bill for more than a month with our taskforce mentor and all spoke towards it on Tuesday afternoon.

‘‘Our bill promoted increasing awareness about discrimination through education and also outlined consequences for those who were found guilty of discrimination, such as performing community service in an ethnic community and the banning of social media accounts for online abuse.’’

Ms Sadiq said the group of six students also took part in chamber meetings and workshops for leadership, public speaking, research and professional development.

‘‘There were strict rules we all had to follow when in parliament and it was an eye-opening experience,’’ she said.

The bills passed by the YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament will be presented to the relevant Victorian Government ministers to provide them with an insight into what issues are important to young people.

The Shepparton group of Busra Kava (from Wanganui Park Secondary College), Johnny Cross, Seyma Topal, Ms Sadiq, Mustafa Abbasi and Hanifa Haidary from Shepparton High School took part in a training camp in May and were sponsored by the Department of Education and Training.

They also sought guidance from Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum in June before completing their bill.

Other bills presented during the three-day legislative assembly included improving services for transgender and gender diverse Victorians, mandatory use of biodegradable or recyclable plastic bags and government-owned addresses for the homeless.

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