IT’S not every day you get the opportunity to change the law.
But Jacqueline Bentley saw the inner workings of parliament and what can be achieved by a group of under 25s first-hand.
The Kyabramite has been part of YMCA Youth Parliament since 2010 when she joined the Greater Murray team.
And she said it was amazing to see what the group could achieve.
“One of the bills we worked on in our second year was in regard to getting channels converted into pipelines. This came about after we saw the black plastic being put in around the area and we thought it wasn’t very sustainable,” she said.
“That was back in 2011, and it’s interesting now to see the channel out the front of my house has been converted into a pipeline.
“This is years after we were there and it happened.”
Jacqueline is still involved in the program — after participating for two years in 2010-11 she is now volunteering as a training coordinator.
She said the experience helped shape the person she’d become.
“I went on to study social work and I’m interested in working with youths with mental health issues, which I’m doing,” she said.
“And you get to meet people from around Victoria who you may otherwise never encounter.
“Some of my closest friends to this day are the ones I met in the Youth Parliament — and it’s just so much fun.”
Currently working at Headspace in Shepparton, Jacqueline said the program gave her the chance to get involved in something she would not usually have access to.
“It’s an important program, especially in rural areas because there just aren’t that many opportunities,” she said.
“It’s definitely something for you if you’re looking to experience how parliament works.
“The program can be pigeonholed as a bit of a debate or ‘nerd’ camp, but there’s the aspect of personal development to it.”
She encouraged anyone who was considering Youth Parliament to get a group of six together and apply.
“Start an application — we take 20 teams so if there are more we’re going to be looking for some great applications,” she said.
“There is a bit of a cost so people would need to fundraise but the community helps out a lot.”
Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh encouraged residents to get involved.
“Youth Parliament develops the skills of our future leaders in debating, public speaking, and team building, and builds their confidence and self-esteem,” Mr Walsh said.
“I encourage participation from across the electorate and look forward to seeing some strong representation from Murray Plains.”
Applications are now open for people aged 16-25.
Applications close on Thursday, March 8 and application forms can be downloaded at youthcentral.vic.gov.au/government-info-assistance/youth-programs/youth-parliament