A group of year 11 students from Cooma were successful in winning support for a mock age of consent bill during a sitting of the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament last week.
The Youth Parliament, which brought together 10 teams of high school students from across the state, debated bills on a range of subjects, including mental health and education.
The bill introduced by the Cooma team called for a standard age of consent set at 16, regardless of sexual preference. Another provision of the bill called for the creation of a sexual education committee, which would have the responsibility of ensuring all students were exposed to sex education by the age of 14 years and nine months -“ the minimum school-leaving age.
Team member Robert Eason told Sydney Star Observer that the bill was generally well received by other youth parliamentary delegates and was passed last Thursday. Although the Parliament was formally split into government and opposition sides, conscience votes were allowed on all issues debated.
Eason said the Cooma team had considered taking bills on teenage suicide or health care to the NSW Youth Parliament, before settling on the age of consent issue.
We expected some sort of controversy. That’s why we picked it, he said. We thought, let’s try and do something worthwhile here.
The Cooma team sought financial assistance for the event from ACON after local sponsorship proved hard to come by.
Unfortunately we have had difficulty finding financial support within the local community and suspect this is as a direct result of the Bill topic, the Cooma YMCA Youth Project manager, Joanne Brown, told ACON.
The eight bills passed by the Youth Parliament had been passed on to representatives from both the state government and opposition.