South Grafton High’s ‘Member for Clarence’ Youth Parliamentarian, Jorja Armstrong.
South Grafton High’s ‘Member for Clarence’ Youth Parliamentarian, Jorja Armstrong.

Junior politician in training

JORJA Armstrong has a vision for a better world – one where children are never abused – and she’s not afraid to go after it.

The dedicated Year 11 South Grafton High School student spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Sydney at the first of two YMCA New South Wales Youth Parliament 2010 training camps.

Jorja, one of four young ‘Members for Clarence’ present at the camp, has been elected team leader of the youth affairs committee.

She said the camp trained her and about 150 other ‘MPs’, aged 15 to 18, from electorates across the State on how to deliver a bill to the NSW Parliament in preparation for the real deal in July.

Trained in speech writing, speech delivery and Parliamentary etiquette, Jorja said her committee would raise the issue of domestic violence education and awareness in their bill.

“We want to run a campaign to educate young people about domestic violence and that it is unacceptable,” she said. “We also want to encourage victims to report the issue and seek help.”

She said improving mental health in young people was one of the main aims of her committee, and that ‘breaking the cycle’ of domestic violence could result in improved health outcomes for youngsters.

“If a child is abused, statistics show they grow up to think it’s acceptable behaviour, and they then abuse their own children,” Jorja said. “We want to let kids know there’s a line between punishment and violence with intention.”

Jorja said ‘mandatory workshops’ for Years 5 to 9 students across the State would be her committee’s way of better informing young people on the topic.

The 16-year-old described her Youth Parliament experience thus far as ‘so much fun’.

“All the people there are so passionate about their bills,” she said. “It’s great to see so many kids getting so involved.”

Two Maclean High School students, Renee Watts (Year 11) and Amelia McCarthy (Year 10), are also representing the Clarence at this year’s Youth Parliament.

Clarence Valley Anglican School captain Lachlan Kilby also attended at the weekend and is now in the running for the top job as the Youth Parliament’s Premier.

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