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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1800

Mr BYRNE (Holt) (19:54): Today I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives of Casey's youth who are participating in the City of Casey Australia Day Study Tour. One of the best things you are able to do as an MP is to engage vibrant, intelligent young people in dialogue. I know the member for Flinders has met with the City of Casey study tour people and kids in the past. It is exciting and challenging to talk about young people and about Australia's future, particularly with young people who have passion, energy and ideas. After our discussions today, I am very sure about the future of our region, given the quality of the young people and the conversation we had.

The questions put to me were probing and intelligent. I sincerely hope that a number of these young people, who are learning about community leadership and participation, will want to get involved in the political process. One of the things that did concern me was the disenfranchisement and the disillusionment they felt with the political process. For such a young, talented group of people to be feeling that about the political process does not bode well for future political participation by young people in our region, but the conversation was a good starting point.

I thank all the students who participated in this discussion and in the Australia Day Study Tour. For the record, they were Stephen Capon from Maranatha Christian School; Samantha Chapman from Casey Grammar School; Kelsy De Prada from Beaconhills College; Sarah Dunstan from Casey Grammar School; Sitarah Mohammadi from Narre Warren South P-12 College; Mason Peatling from Beaconhills College; Nelson Phan from Nossal High School; Arnhie-Marie San Juan from Narre Warren South P-12 College; Asanga Seneviratne from Haileybury College; and, Wali Sultani from Cranbourne Secondary College.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Australia Day Study Tour program. I specifically congratulate the City of Casey for running this program. It is a great program which runs through all levels of government and gives 10 young students an insight into how each level of government works. That would not happen without the City of Casey. I congratulate them for their great endeavours over 30 years.

Students participating in the Australia Day Study Tour program this year met with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and with my colleague Jason Wood, the member for Latrobe. One of the key issues they raised was delivering mental health services for young people in the region. It is a challenge we have confronted for some time. Through their efforts and their endeavours, pushing the politicians in the region, they are responsible for the establishment last year of Dandenong headspace. We should keep in mind that the people I represent are representing 60,000 young people in the Casey region. It is absolutely vital that we have a similar headspace in Fountain Gate to service their very large youth population. Our campaign has been strongly supported by Casey's youth and by vibrant, young spokespeople like Dani Rothwell, who has been part of the Headspace for Fountain Gate campaign. I understand the Minister for Health is strongly supportive of the establishment of headspace in Fountain Gate and I encourage the government to ensure that the best possible headspace will be built there before the end of the year.

In the time remaining I wish to recognise, as I do at the end of each school year, students who make their community a better place and their school a better school to be a part of. They are not the kids who put themselves forward, they are not necessarily the school captains, the star sportspeople or the star academic students. These students make a difference by helping other students, leading by example. In December 2013, I was proud to present what I call the Holt Community Spirit and Leadership Awards at the Cranbourne Community Theatre where 50 students from 49 local schools participated. The awards ceremony was attended by over 200 people including award recipients, parents, teachers and family members.

Casey's youth has an incredibly vibrant future. Casey's youth can, on many issues, speak with one very powerful voice. I am very glad to honour to the outstanding young people I met today and all the young people who have participated in the Casey study tour over 30 years. (Time expired)

Debate interrupted.

House adjourned at 20:00