Leadership students across the federal electorate of Burt were invited to a Youth Forum on Tuesday to present topical issues to Federal Member Matt Keogh.
The Youth Leaders Forum saw 24 senior students from 12 High School’s present the biggest issues they perceive that face society and proposals on how to fix them.
The head girl Isabelle Oreo from Southern River College said they enjoyed the forum and it allowed students to feel heard.
“I think the forum is a really good opportunity for students to have a voice, especially to members of Parliament because it’s a good idea for us to get out there and have a say,” Miss Oreo said.
Half of the students presented mental health as the key issue that faces society, with six presentations on various issues surrounding the topic of mental health.
Head boy from Southern River College Kobe VanWyk said their presentation was surrounding mental health and educating children at a young age about mental health issues rather than waiting until High School.
“Our presentation was aiming towards preventing it from a young age so it doesn’t develop into the worsening conditions,” he said.
“Awareness is the best step first before we are implementing these things.
“We can build fancy buildings and services for mental health, but there’s a big stigma around it and people are too nervous to ask for help.”
Armadale Senior High School council students Dylan de Lacy and Christopher Wilson said they also raised mental health.
“Our presentation was on the connections on what causes mental health issues such as racism, bullying and expectations that we as teenagers face,” Mr de Lacy said.
After the presentations the students voted on the topics they wanted to discuss and explore further, before they came up with a recommendation for Mr Keogh to pass on to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and WA State Premier Mark McGowan.
Mr Keogh felt it was important the students know their reports are going somewhere.
“The great thing about today is the students identifying their own topics and bringing those forward for discussion,” he said.
“The important thing is that the students lead it, that the students say these are the topics that are important, these are the ones that we want to discuss and focus on recommendations as opposed to me coming in and controlling that conversation.”
“The presentations from the students are fantastic, they’ve done the research and got the statistics to back up what they’re talking about and they’ve engaged with their student bodies about what they see is important.”
“Every year mental health comes up. That doesn’t surprise me, having done this now for a number of years that that continually comes up.”
“I know we’ll be getting across mental health issues when students stop making mental health the top topic of a youth forum.”
It’s important to Mr Keogh to engage with students and he often visits schools to discuss politics, including visiting Grade 3’s learning the basics of democracy.