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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12023

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (13:52): Last week Perth hosted the very successful Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting as well as parallel business, peoples and youth forums. The Commonwealth youth forum was held in Fremantle, attended by young people from most of the Commonwealth countries. I was proud to attend a number of events associated with that forum, including the welcome barbecue and the opening ceremony at the Esplanade Hotel, a formal dinner at the Fremantle Town Hall, a lunch with guest speaker Michael Kirby at Notre Dame University, an informal afternoon at Kidogo arthouse in Fremantle and the closing ceremony last Thursday. Finally, as the representative of the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, I attended the youth dialogue between youth delegates and a number of heads of government from countries including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Nigeria, Tonga and Belize.

The youth forum produced a communique with the core recommendation that the Commonwealth Heads of Government support the establishment of an independent youth-led governing body to oversee the administration of a youth development fund. Other very practical recommendations related to peace building and conflict management; health, including that Commonwealth states should address the impacts of climate change on global health; youth; ICT and sustainable livelihoods; environmental sustainability; and youth participation in decision making.

Young people make up half the population of the Commonwealth—that is, 1.2 billion youth. From what I saw at the forum, the Commonwealth's young leaders are its most valuable assets. They have intelligence, ideas, energy and commitment and they represent the hopes for our planet's future. I look forward to seeing future Commonwealth interactions and decisions involving genuine partnerships with youth.