Hamani Tanginoa entered Youth Parliament six years ago with a burning desire to effect change.

“As a young, gay, Aboriginal man, I have endured discrimination. I wanted to support others with similar experiences by introducing legislation that would empower and educate,” he said.

Mr Tanginoa went on to make history as the first Aboriginal Youth Premier for NSW.

“As an Aboriginal Youth Parliament participant, this program became the catalyst for my journey in leadership,” he said.

Young people with a similar passion for creating change in their communities are now urged to apply for this year’s Youth Parliament run by the Y NSW.

There are barely two weeks remaining for locals in Years 10, 11 and 12 (or equivalent age) to apply before 9 February.

The Y (formerly YMCA) Youth Parliament provides a unique platform for individuals to actively participate in the democratic process and advocate for issues that they are passionate about.

Participants will have the chance to draft, debate, and advocate for mock youth-focused legislation, gaining invaluable insights into the workings of government and policy development.

“This program not only amplifies voices but also nurtures future leaders who will drive positive change in our communities,” said Mr Tanginoa who is now part of the Youth Parliament team as Youth Voice Coordinator.

The Y is committed to making Youth Parliament accessible to all young people and welcomes people from diverse backgrounds and interests to apply, with eligible individuals able to apply under a scholarship.

“There is no specific experience required to be involved in Youth Parliament. We strive for diversity in the cohort and support individuals facing adversity, marginalisation or disadvantage where possible,” explained interim CEO of the Y NSW Prue Warrilow.

“This includes representation from rural and remote areas whose unique perspectives play a crucial role in shaping the discussions and policies at the Youth Parliament.”

Youth Parliament provides a unique platform for young people to actively learn about the democratic process and how to advocate for issues that they are passionate about. Each committee is paired with an industry expert and mentored and supported by Y staff and the volunteer taskforce. Throughout the six-month program, participants develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, build leadership skills, gain confidence, form lifelong friendships and more.

This year the Y NSW established a sponsorship component to Youth Parliament for youth experiencing marginalisation and disadvantage, which will support 35 participants who may have otherwise been unable to partake in the program by covering or assisting with their entry fees into the 2024 Youth Parliament.

To apply to take part in the 2024 Youth Parliament, young people should visit ymcansw.org.au/community- services/youth/youth-parliament/ and submit their application before 9 February 2024.

School teachers and Members of Parliament can also support a young person’s application by writing a letter of recommendation.