Concerns sent to PM

Concerns sent to PM

. Member for Burt Matt Keogh MP with local students involved in the Burt Youth Leaders Forum.

The ideas of some of the electorate of Burt’s best young minds are on their way to the Prime Minister following the Burt Youth Leaders forum.

Students from Lumen Christi College and Thornlie, Kelmscott and Harrisdale Senior High Schools were tasked by Burt MP Matt Keogh with putting forward issues they believe are the most important facing students and the wider community.

Those issues were standardised testing, the impact of low socio-economic value, mental health during the pandemic, domestic violence and suicide in young people, particularly males.

The students then divided into groups and came up with concepts to address their concerns.

Male suicide was particularly important to Thornlie Senior High School head boy Bohdi Grey, and he strong ideas on how to combat mental illness.

“We chose to do male suicide in young Australians, and we chose that because a boy chose to take his life in 2020,” he said.

“It had a devastating effect on my year group in particular, he was in our year group, and we thought we should do something so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“Mental health hasn’t been talked about in our health education classes as much as we believe it should be.

“We seem to focus on other topics like drug and alcohol abuse almost a bit too much, that sort of loses our interest and engagement in health education so we think we should have more of a balance between them.

“We also think there should be a greater relationship between the school psychologist and the chaplain with the students.

“The psychologist and the chaplain seem to tend towards certain students, and other students don’t have anything to do with them at all.”

Mr Keogh said the results of the forum would now be collated into a report that will be presented to the Premier, the Federal Opposition Leader and the Prime Minister.

Having run the forum since 2017, Mr Keogh said it couldn’t go unremarked that mental health was yet again a key topic.

“What the topics that have been identified demonstrate is the issues aren’t just student issues, they’re community wide issues,” he said.

“The beauty of a forum like this is it really gives the opportunity to highlight that students aren’t just concerned with the things that are confronting them at school.

“Young people are members of our community too, and they are concerned with the things that affect the broader community as well, and we’ve seen that reflected in the topics.”

Student Bohdi Gray said that he was surprised by the inclusion of Burt’s socio-economic status.

“I didn’t think about it at all, it’s not something I considered but it’s something that I totally agree with,” he said.

“Thornlie being a low socio-economic school, there’s a perception about the school and I think other schools at times look down on us.”

His group said a way to reduce that stigma was to not publish and rank schools’ results in standardised areas such as NAPLAN and ATAR, a measure WA’s School Curriculum and Standards Authority attempted to implement for last year’s results.

Mr Keogh said the student report had been previously well received by Federal leaders.

“I’ve been impressed every year with the level of discussion, topic identification, presentation skills and analysis that we’ve had every year.

“It’s excellent to see that our schools, which people can be very critical of, are producing excellent graduates every year.

“We’ve had acknowledgements from the PM and the Opposition Leader in the past, which is what you want to see, you want to know the leaders of government, regardless of political party, are going to listen to young people.

“The reality is that decisions made at a federal level in particular will have a bigger impact on young people for the rest of their lives, so we want to make sure that they know their views are important, we want to know what they’re saying, that we have a forum for them to pass on their views.”