Burt Students heard in Inaugural Youth Leadership Forum

02 August 2018

In March I hosted the inaugural Burt Youth Leadership Forum at Carey Baptist College in Harrisdale, where students outlined their concerns and priorities for Burt and Australia.

Two students from each of Armadale Senior High School, Carey Baptist College, Harrisdale Senior High School, John Calvin Christian College, Kelmscott Senior High School, Lumen Christi College and Thornlie Senior High School gathered to not only brainstorm these concerns but also to explore ways to address these issues.

The students expressed concerns about the value placed on education, drug use, mental health issues and youth violence and crime as key priorities to be addressed in our community.

It was interesting to see how a number of students identified similar areas of concern and showed great insight into the causes and effects of such issues.

Education funding was at the heart of the students concerns with the students highlighting the need for properly funded schools and funding for education and advertising programs to combat drug addiction, tackle the stigma of mental health and address youth crime and violence.

Issues of drug use, mental health and violence have the potential to affect anyone in our society directly or indirectly. Mental health issues do not discriminate and can be a direct result of or lead to drug use and experiencing violence.

I will be presenting a copy of the Youth Leadership Report to Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Bill Shorten MP in Canberra when Parliament returns at the end of May. A copy will also be provided to Premier of Western Australia, Hon. Mark McGowan MLA.

I thank Carey Baptist College for hosting the first Burt Youth Forum and look forward to more schools participating in future years.

Brendan Pitlo, Teacher at John Calvin Christian College said:

The forum was an excellent opportunity for students to express their concerns directly to their representative and the students really appreciated the opportunity to be heard.

The following recommendations arose from the forum:

Recommendations on drug use:

  1. Funding for improved and more confrontational education campaigns on television, social media and in schools, which are realistic as to the effects of different types of drugs.

Recommendations on mental health

  1. Maintain the National School Chaplaincy Program
  2. Increase availability of qualified school psychologists
  3. Provide supports and training to teachers to be able to address mental health issues in the classroom to remove stigma
  4. More funding for mental health programs targeted at young people in schools.

Recommendations on youth crime and violence

  1. Create spaces where young people can seek help and guidance about issues they are confronting that can lead to crime and violence, such as family issues, mental health concerns, drug use, and family, school & community conflicts.
  2. Greater assistance to police to facilitate programs aimed at young people at risk of becoming involved in crime and violence.
  3. Better address the causes and effects of family and domestic violence.

Recommendations on valuing education

  1. Increase funding for school education to facilitate smaller teaching loads.
  2. Improve university funding for teaching degrees or first degrees leading to an education qualification.
  3. Explore ways to make entry into teaching qualifications and the teaching profession more attractive to high achieving students, to improve perceptions of teachers and the value of education.