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Monday, 11 November 2002
Page: 8586

Mr MOSSFIELD (1:20 PM) —I move:

That this House:

(1) recognises that:

(a) young people have a diversity of talent and can provide a fresh insight into the creative industries;

(b) there is a need for positive promotion of young people and their achievements;

(c) young people wish to advance themselves by utilising work placement and work experience programs; and

(d) young people are willing to promote and enhance positive programs of a range of issues such as multiculturalism, education, the environment and social justice issues, including asylum seekers; and

(2) urges the Government to:

(a) organise a collaborative effort by schools in local areas to provide the opportunity for students to audition, take part in and display their individual talents in a musical performance, with the help of local sponsorship and government funding, to provide a professional opportunity for students in creative areas;

(b) provide increased resources to support mechanisms to students in order to enhance educational opportunities and outcomes, including library facilities, syllabus management and student support infrastructure;

(c) provide incentives to employers to encourage their participation in work experience and work placement programs and to address the public liability insurance issues that are threatening such programs; and

(d) create youth sport and recreation facilities where young people can physically participate and interact with each other to promote better physical and mental well-being.

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to move this motion today. This is the second private member's motion that I have moved this year on youth issues. Each year, I host a Blacktown Youth Orientation, the BYO, in my office. Each year we get a number of students and youth leaders from around the electorate together to discuss the issues that they see as important to them. While my staff help out, the day is pretty much run by the participants, who set the agenda and talk about the issues that they consider important. The final session of the BYO is the drafting of a motion for debate in this place. The words are written by the participants themselves, and it is a credit to them that it is being debated so soon after this year's BYO.

There are many issues listed in this motion, and if one looks at the previous motion, debated on 17 June, that arose from last year's BYO, one will see some similarities. The issue of perception comes through strongly in both motions. Many young people believe that the perception of youth, particularly in Western Sydney, is an incorrect one. As the motion states, young people have a vast array of skills and talents that need appropriate recognition. This motion differs from its predecessor in one major issue that was discussed on the day—that is the availability of quality workplace experiences. Every school has some form of work experience program where students are placed in workplaces for a period of time to gain an insight into the type of environment that awaits them when they join the work force. In some programs, it is one day each week for a term and for others it is a one-week block. The programs and their quality vary greatly across the school systems.

The members of the BYO spoke about their various experiences—some were good, others not so good. They also identified several barriers to a good workplace experience. The number of employers willing to take on students for work experience is falling. It is getting harder to place students in the first place. I acknowledge that it is difficult for employers. Many jobs require a great deal of training, and a two-week block for someone who will not be there after it finishes makes it very difficult for employers to put in the required resources. This motion talks about the incentives for employers to take on students for work experience. Exactly what incentives would be appropriate is something for another debate at another time, but members should give some thought to how we can improve the situation.

Some of the participants in the BYO have gone on to bigger and better things. I spoke last time of Eshan Fallahi, who became a delegate to the Prime Minister's Youth Roundtable and was one of only two Australian delegates to a global youth summit in England. Another BYO participant, Jonathan Wang, has just returned from the Fourth China Synergy Program for Outstanding Youth. Jonathan was one of four Australian delegates to this 17-day conference program, organised by the Chinese government, which aims to provide a chance for young ethnic Chinese from around the world to understand more about China, their ancestral homeland. Jonathan, like Eshan, has used his BYO experience to take that next step; next year Jonathan will be applying to be a delegate to the Prime Minister's Youth Roundtable.

Both Jonathan and Eshan are remarkable young men who are a credit to their community. The BYO afforded me the opportunity to meet with them and other young people to hear their ideas on what is needed for our region and the future. It is always good to hear from young leaders of the community, but it is also important not to forget the disadvantaged. It is important that we direct the resources available to where they are most needed. Helping all young people is an investment in the future; in particular, we must ensure that all students receive appropriate workplace experience to help them prepare themselves for the world of work. There is no quick buck to be made, but the long-term pay-off can be enormous. The pay-off comes with a better society and a better community for our children and grandchildren to live in.

I am grateful for the support the BYO has received from local schools who have sent delegates, and I am grateful to the participants for their honesty and hard work. The BYO has been a great conduit for me to listen to the concerns of young people in Greenway and to bring those concerns and ideas to this place in the form of this motion. It has been a remarkable exercise, and I commend the motion to the House.

Ms Burke —I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.