MP holds first youth forum
A lack of jobs, poor public transport in the region and the fate of the environment were among the issues raised by young people attending the first Youth Forum hosted by the Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.
The forum, held last Wednesday (October 26) at the Mt Barker office of the NXT MP, was attended by a small but passionate group of senior high school and tertiary students and youth workers.
“I was so impressed by the insightful views expressed by the young people who came to my first youth forum,” Ms Sharkie said.
“Some of the local issues I was already aware of but it was good to hear how and why problems such as poor public transport and patchy internet connections were impacting on youth in my electorate.
“This event has reinforced my view that all politicians need to consult regularly with their younger constituents so I am going to hold another forum in early December.
“There are more than three million people aged 15 to 24 years in Australia and I’m just staggered that the Federal Government no longer has a Youth Minister whose job it is to stay in touch with the concerns of our young people.”
Besides concerns about the lack of jobs outside of retail and hospitality, the youth who attended this week’s event said bus services between towns and to Adelaide, at hours outside of commuting times, were poor or non-existent.
They said Service SA was too far away and that it cost too much money to obtain a driver’s licence.
They also said homelessness was more hidden in the country because of couch surfing, that there was a stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues and that access to reliable internet for study was a case of “haves” and “have nots”, depending on where people lived.
No-one at the forum supported a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
“All of the young people questioned why same-sex marriage was even an issue, saying the law should just be changed and the Government should move on to more important matters, such as the environment and immigration,” Ms Sharkie said.
“One thing that did give me pause was the cynicism many of the young people had about politics.
“Some of them said their friends didn’t bother to vote because they didn’t feel they had a voice and that none of the candidates offered philosophies that fitted with their own views.
“I’d like to hope that will change and I will be doing what I can to make sure the young in Mayo feel like they are being heard.”
The next youth forum will be held in the Mt Barkier electorate office on Tuesday, December 13.