Thursday, 20 September 2018
Werriwa Electorate: 2168 Children's Parliament
I have the great privilege of being an ambassador for the 2168 Children's Parliament. The 2168 Children's Parliament initiative is in its second year and is delivered under the 2168 Communities for Children program, a Commonwealth government early intervention and prevention initiative. It is supported by the Liverpool City Council, the Department of Education and Mission Australia. The child parliamentarians are drawn from years 5 and 6 from 10 local primary schools in the 2168 postcode, which is within my electorate.
Approximately 40 children are involved. The children meet regularly over several months in workshops that build debating, research and communication skills. Ten children from the group are elected by their peers to advocate and present to the ambassadors. In addition to myself, the ambassadors included the Mayor of Liverpool, Wendy Waller, and representatives from the National Children's Commissioner, the New South Wales Advocate for Children and Young People, the New South Wales Department of Education and Western Sydney University.
The children use the parliament to advocate for topics that they select as important to them. This year's topics included bullying, the environment, pedestrian safety and poverty. Each group not only identified the issues and gaps that related to their topic but sought to provide possible solutions. Each of the groups took up the challenge to advocate their concerns to us, the ambassadors. I was very impressed with the level of research and thoughtfulness of all the presentations.
One group in particular was most concerned about the construction of the Western Sydney Airport. They have concluded that the airport should be built as a green airport, powered by solar. I've committed to take their ideas to the Forum on Western Sydney Airport, of which I'm a member.
It was a truly amazing morning, listening to these students. They thought deeply and researched widely on the subjects they presented. I commend the Liverpool City Council and its staff for the initiative and the schools' teachers and the ambassadors for giving their time. Most particularly, I commend the students for all their hard work. They are tomorrow's leaders.
Early last month, during Education Week I had the privilege to visit Green Valley Public School, one of the schools involved in the 2168 Children's Parliament. Over 60 per cent of our nation's children attend public schools, and Education Week seeks to bring attention to these schools by celebrating the achievements of their students, their teachers and also the wider school community. In keeping with the theme of this year, the audience was treated to a video montage where the children of Green Valley spoke about what they wanted to be when they grew up and why. Among the responses were mechanical engineer, astrophysicist, police officer and journalist. Sadly, but, probably unsurprisingly, 'politician' wasn't amongst them!
In addition to Education Week, I visited Green Valley Public School to see the great work the Parents & Citizens Association have been able to achieve as part of round 3 of the Stronger Communities Program. The P&C received a $10,000 grant, which they matched dollar for dollar through their tireless fundraising efforts. These efforts included selling gelato, holding school discos and partaking in the great Australian tradition of the election-day democracy sausage. The grant has produced much needed air conditioning for the school hall, which, in addition to hosting many school activities throughout the year, is used by a number of community groups in the area, including dance, church and language groups.
I'd like to thank the Green Valley Public School's principal, Brett Warwick, for organising the event and the school's P&C president, Christy Nguy, for her and her group's hard work. Both the 2168 Children's Parliament and work of Green Valley Public School are tremendous examples of how local agencies, all three levels of government, and the community can work together to create stronger bonds in the local area.
I would also like to take the time left to acknowledge the work of David Sim, the principal of Lurnea Public School, for his excellence in education award, which was awarded last week. Like all the schools in Werriwa, Lurnea is led by a very enthusiastic principal. He and his hardworking staff make a wonderful environment for their students to learn in. I was lucky to visit the school late last year. It was obvious, just walking around that school, how engaged the children were and how wonderful they consider their teachers and Mr Sim. I congratulate the school community and Mr Sim on his award.