From the moment I set foot in Canberra, my heart was racing with excitement. This was my first time at Parliament House in the nation's capital, and I was eager to be a part of something big and meaningful for the education system, not just for Victorian students, but for all Australian students.
VicSRC was able to invite one government school student to represent Victorian students at the meeting and I was so happy to be chosen by the Executive Committee team to attend.
Before I dive into the day, I thought I'd give you a bit of a run-down of why I was there!
Back in 2012, a review commissioned by the Gillard Government (and led by David Gonski, hence the name!) often referred to as the "Gonski Report" made recommendations around reforming school funding and improving outcomes for less privileged students. Since then, people have argued that these recommendations haven't been acted on, so a new review, the Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System, was set up to make recommendations for Education Ministers to inform the next agreement to improve education outcomes in Australia and meet the current and future needs of students. The meeting I attended was called a Ministerial Reference Group Meeting and I was joined by a huge range of stakeholders, but was specifically seated with a group of Australian government-school students.
On the day of the meeting, we all boarded a bus and headed to the iconic Parliament House. As we stepped into the committee room, I couldn't help but feel a mix of nerves and wonder. Surrounded by other passionate students from all corners of Australia, I knew this was going to be something special
The room buzzed with energy as we introduced ourselves, and I was amazed by the diversity of perspectives each student brought to the table. I was blown away by their knowledge and intelligence. As the youngest of the group, I looked up to all of them and was inspired by their advocacy and how committed they are to making a difference in our education system.
The meeting was divided into three sessions, each focusing on crucial areas for educational reform. The first session centred on increasing outcomes for at-risk students, and it was truly eye-opening to hear the challenges faced by students from different backgrounds.
Next, we delved into the topic of mental health and well-being in schools which is a significant part of VicSRC’s Advocacy Platform for 2023 and our push for a Student Mental Health Taskforce. Listening to my fellow students share their ideas on how to improve mental health support was moving and it was evident that we all cared deeply about creating a nurturing environment for every student.
In the final session, we discussed the critical issue of teacher shortages. This hit close to home as I've seen the impact this issue has had on many students in Victoria. As we brainstormed solutions and strategies, I felt empowered to contribute my ideas and be a part of the change. A massive part of
Throughout the meeting, we were surrounded by influential stakeholders in Australia's education system, including Minister Aly, the federal minister for young people. I admired her for actively listening to our perspectives, genuinely valuing our voices, and allowing us to lead the conversation. It was evident that she believed in the power of young people to drive change, which only reinforced my determination to be a passionate advocate.
As the meeting concluded, I couldn't help but reflect on the powerful connections I made that day. We shared ideas, dreams, and aspirations, all striving for a brighter future for education in our country.
Attending the Ministerial Reference Group Meeting for the Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System was an experience I will cherish forever. I've gained a deeper appreciation for the power of advocacy, the importance of listening to diverse perspectives, and the strength of collaboration among young people. I am more determined than ever to be a voice for students everywhere, working towards an education system that uplifts and empowers us all.
To all my fellow young advocates out there, remember that our voices matter, and we have the power to create change, even at the highest levels. Let's continue working together, striving for a better tomorrow, one where every student's potential is recognized and nurtured. We are the future, and together, we can make a difference!