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Chats and chat-sites not the same as year-round consultation.

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja

Australian Democrats

Youth Affairs Spokesperson


22 June 1998



Chats and chat-sites not the same as year-round consultation


The Australian Democrats are appalled by claims made by Senator Chris Elliso n in Question Time today that an Internet site and twice-yearly meetings would give young people greater influence on the development of policies which directly affect them in the absence of the permanent, independent representative AYPAC, said the Democrats’ Spokesperson on Youth Affairs, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.


“This Government has effectively silenced young people through defunding their national, peak, representative body and thinks it can fob them off with a web page and a meeting with fifty select young people every six months,” said Senator Stott Despoja.


“AYPAC had 20 minutes notice of the funding cut before the announcement was made public. Is it simply a coincidence that this decision takes place just as the Common Youth Allowance is due to begin? AYPAC will close its doors the day before the CYA comes into effect.


“AYPAC is a vital voice for young people. It and its successors have been advising Governments, researching issues affecting young people and liaising with young people’s groups from across the country. Only this Government appears so unwilling to listen to young people that it has to silence their voice and only let a very select few speak every six months.


“The Minister also failed to outline how the $225,000 would be spent on the Government’s replacement for AYPAC, including how much would be spent on advertising,” said Senator Stott Despoja.


Senator Stott Despoja also reacted angrily to a call by Senator Ellison that she be as open to consultation with young people as he claims to have been.


“The Australian Democrats have always sought to provide a voice for young people, through liaising with representative bodies such as AYPAC, student bodies, welfare groups, direct consultation and the annual Youthpoll, the only survey of young peoples’ attitudes in Australia.


“Furthermore, in April this year, a leaked Government document showed that the Government viewed me as such a threat that it planned a campaign of favourable plotlines on television programs and increasing the profile of young Coalition parliamentarians to try to compete with Democrat representation of young peoples’ concerns and our scrutiny and criticism of Government policies.


“This Government has proven time and time again that it is not interested in what young people have to say unless they are in agreement with Government policy. Its decision to defund AYPAC is further evidence of this approach, and young people will not be fooled by Senator Ellison’s claims to the contrary,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.


For comment contact Senator Stott Despoja on (02) 6277 3645 or 014 812 589