Junior Indigenous Youth Parliament Morning Tea
Acting Speaker, Mr James Martin MP; Minister for Seniors and Disability Services, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, the Honourable Craig Crawford MP; Parliamentary Services staff; distinguished guests; students and your teachers, welcome.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we gather, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, including all First Nations people here today.
Well, what a delightful engagement to have on my calendar! Firstly, to be back here in Cairns; secondly, to be among such wonderful young people; and thirdly, to be able to add my words of support to the importance of understanding our parliamentary process. Lucky me!
Now, I am not sure if you have ever heard the phrase ‘Knowledge is power’?
It means the more you know about something, the more you can make an informed decision about its usefulness, or its worth.
So, it makes me very happy to know that young people such as yourselves, our Young Indigenous Queenslanders, are eager to gain knowledge about our parliamentary process, as this is the mechanism by which our laws are made and through which our people, you, are represented.
There are close to 100 students in the room today, from 14 different schools across the region. I imagine if we sat down for a chat, you would be able to tell me about all the things that currently make you happy about living in Queensland. I also know that you would have some things that make you sad, or angry, or worried.
You, like all people, want to be heard; you want others to know what you feel and what you think.
Each and every one of you will have an opinion about how your lives, and the lives of other Australians, can be improved. Today, you will learn how to contribute your opinions in a way that will guarantee the greatest success of those ideas being heard.
When you better understand how a democratic system works, you also learn of the proper channels through which to raise your issues and concerns. Learning about important parliamentary processes through a true-to-life debate – in a parliamentary setting like this – will set you up as powerful, informed citizens, ready to create a better state, and a better country for all Australians.
As young Indigenous people, your thoughts, your words and your actions are vital to our nation’s growth and development, so I am thrilled to see you taking part in the 2023 Junior Indigenous Youth Parliament in Cairns.
The benefits and outcomes of a program such as this cannot be understated – so learn a lot today, get involved in the parliamentary process, have your say, and be heard.
And of course, have fun!