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Tremane Baxter-Edwards will push for positive change in WA's Youth Parliament

Rhiannon Clarke -

17-year-old Tremane Baxter-Edwards from Wyndham has been chosen to represent the Kalgoorlie electorate in the 2024 Youth Parliament program of the YMCA WA.

The exceptional group of young people will have the chance to voice their opinions, build important relationships, shape their future careers, and are given a meaningful platform to create positive change.

A diverse group of 59 young people from various regions in Western Australia were selected to represent their respective local electorates, and preparations are now underway to determine the topics to be discussed, encompassing a wide range of issues from any state government portfolio.

As the sole Indigenous candidate this year, Mr Baxter-Edwards, who is in his last year at Aquinas College, said being selected in the program means a lot to him.

"It makes me feel so proud because it's almost as if I am breaking down a stigma that Aboriginal people aren't interested in political and legal system which is not true," he said.

"We've got leaders who are outstanding members of our community and it really does make me feel humble to show the younger people and certainly the youth of the Kimberley more so, which is a very proud feeling."

Mr Baxter-Edwards hopes to raise awareness on a number of issues involving the youth crime in the Kimberley, the education system, housing in remote communities, and also regional development.

"I just wanna shine a light on a number of those key issues, obviously I am not the only one who recognises it, but I really am one of those people who will get up and want to make a difference," he said.

The YMCA (also known as The Y) runs a four-month program presenting a chance for young people to engage in the democratic process and make their opinions known to policy makers.

"If I'm gonna make greater change it's gonna be in that field," said Mr Baxter-Edwards

"I believe politics can really make a difference for the good. I think if politicians today did a good job of looking after the marginalised, the working class man, it would be a better place.

"I definitely think I will see myself in that field."

The training will encompass three comprehensive day-long workshops and virtual meetings, enabling them to collaborate on the creation, discussion, and promotion of simulated legislation that focuses on youth-related matters.

CEO of the Y WA, Dr Tim McDonald, said that the Youth Parliament program, which is currently in its 29th year, provides young individuals with a valuable understanding of government operations and policy creation.

"What makes it so special is that it aims to be truly representative of the views and concerns of the state's next generation of community leaders," he said.

Participants in the program will take on the role of "youth members" who will represent a state electorate in parliament. The program will conclude with members visiting Parliament House on 8, 9, and 11 July to engage in a live debate in the chamber.

Following the completion of all bills, they will be reviewed and considered by Members of the WA government and opposition, as well as presented to the Governor of Western Australia, the Lord Mayor of Perth, and the WA Department for Communities.

Several bills, handpicked by the younger generation, have addressed a wide range of issues including daylight saving, sexual health, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, water supply, education, juvenile justice, healthcare accessibility in rural areas, curfews in entertainment districts, youth participation in decision-making, and regulations for learner drivers, among others.

"It's an incredible opportunity for young people to advocate, grow skills and make life-long connections," said Dr McDonald.

"Programs such as this offered by the Y WA are impactful and make a real difference through providing people with the opportunity to reach their full potential."

The Y WA Youth Parliament is managed and operated by a committed group of young individuals, which includes volunteers and past participants, with the support of the WA Department of Communities.

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