Throughout the first week of July 160 youth from across NSW will debate bills in NSW Parliament House as part of a YMCA political program.

The YMCA Youth Parliament is designed to replicate actual parliamentary procedures.

At the beginning of the year students between the ages of 15 and 18 were separated into specialised committees. Since then they have been developing bills, which they will each present over the course of the week in Parliament.

Year 11 Manly Selective student, Kartikeya Shastri, is part of thetransport committee. He said one of his committee’s key goals is to introduce more steps to improve the experience of disabled people using buses.

“Those who have vision impairments can’t see where the bus is going. So things like announcing stops on buses could be something that is really simple that would
solve that issue.”

Environmental issues will also be on the agenda during Parliament. Year 12 St Augustine’s student, William Berthelot, said the environmental committee is looking at improving recycling and reducing plastic usage.

“We are proposing abolishing plastic bags in retailers across the state and implementing various strategies like a container deposit scheme, a cash for cans type
thing,” said William.

William hopes to pursue a career in politics after finishing high school, and is looking forward to working with the Mayor of Pittwater, Jacqueline Townsend, in coming months.

Kartikeya hopes to study law at university and feels that youth parliament has helped to develop necessary skills for this. “Youth parliament is a good experience as it helps with your speaking ability, which is something that’s essential as a lawyer,” he said.