By Sean Wales
A team of school students from Mater Christi College in Belgrave attended the Youth Parliament of Victoria.
Run by the YMCA, the Youth Parliament is in its 31st year and provides young people aged between 16 and 25 with the chance to voice their concerns on the big stage.
The six girls brought their Bill titled Re-Categorising Dyslexia as a Disability in Victorian Schools Bill 2017 to the Youth Parliament on Thursday 6 July.
To the team’s delight, their Bill successfully passed through the Youth Parliament after a heated debate.
It will now be passed on to the Victorian Government, which will decide whether or not to table it to the State Parliament.
The Bill aims to provide school students who have dyslexia with a dedicated funding model.
“Currently there’s a lot of students with dyslexia that are flying under the radar, as not much support is being provided to them,” said team member Molly O’Bryan.
“Most support (for students with dyslexia) is being provided by parents out of pocket.”
The team’s Bill would provide set funding, resources and support to ensure these students can complete their education at a high standard.
When introducing the Bill to the Youth Parliament, Saasha Burby highlighted the importance of helping not only the students but their parents as well.
“Parents are forced to pay out of their own money due to a lack of government support,” she said.
“Adequately supporting these students will help them succeed and have a positive future.”
The team has been writing and editing its Bill for months with help from YMCA volunteers.
The students’ classmates who wanted to see this issue brought to the forefront inspired them to take action.
They encouraged other young people from their school and community to get involved in the YMCA’s Youth Parliament next year so that they can also have their voices heard.
“I think it’s a fresh perspective. People who are older and are representing our state might not represent the things we believe,” Sian Janke said.
“We think it’s important to have someone who’s quite close to these issues and can recognise what actually needs to change.”