To begin the parliamentary aspect of the program, Youth Members are placed in committees based on an area of interest and are assigned a mentor who is experienced in parliamentary protocol and legislative writing. After discussing the issues and coming to an agreement on a topic they would like to debate in parliament, they are divided into sponsoring and refuting teams. The sponsoring team is responsible for writing the Bill and the refuting team is responsible for writing amendments to improve the Bill. Once these have all been written, Youth Members will assemble in Brisbane for one week in the September-October mid-semester break and argue for and against their ideas. 

2017 Youth Bill Topics

Communities and Social Services Bill:

The CSS Bill this year aims to address issues with cyclone and flooding management across Queensland in response to the devastation caused by Cyclone Debbie. An independent government agency representing Queensland's electorates will be established as well as a public fund which will be able to allocate grants to community groups in need. Mandatory infrastructure, community centre and resource standards will be set by the bill and a more in depth and protective evacuation plan established. Guidelines around the response of the media to natural disaster, safer conditions for the closure of workplaces and schools and a more effective plan for the rehabilitation of communities will also be provided. The bill in essence seeks to create a safer more prosperous state whose communities have the resources and support to remain resilient in times of turmoil.

Transport and Road Safety Bill:

The purpose of this bill is to create an annual mechanical inspection for all personal motor vehicles registered in Queensland. This bill is intended to increase safety on QLD roads through ensuring that vehicles on or roads are safe and roadworthy. Currently only heavy vehicles, buses and other public transport vehicles are required to undergo an annual safety inspection. Personal motor vehicles are only required to be inspected by a mechanic upon sale to another owner or when transferred from interstate. This bill will make this same inspection an annual occurrence for vehicles older than 3 years from their manufacture date. This legislation will mirror legislation in NSW, which has existed for over 30 years.

Innovation, Science and e-Government Bill:

Despite significant progress in the field of organ donation and the ever-changing attitude of the youth towards donating organs, there remains an issue with efficient access to organs for vulnerable patients. Currently, there are 1500 Australians on the organ transplant waiting list who will spend anywhere from four months to six years waiting for a transplant. Whilst this time has been reduced over the years, we believe that more must be done to allow patients rapid access to replacement organs. Our bill seeks to advance the current system with an alternative that will help alleviate some of the strains on the donation system and provide more consistent access to organs. The bill enables medical practitioners to develop and grown organs for a patient from their own stem cells. This will decrease the risk of organ rejection by the receiver’s immune system and significantly lower transplant-waiting times. Whilst allowing individuals to donate their own stem cells for their organs, we will also enable individuals to donate their stem cells for the development of organs for other patients. We acknowledge that a major limitation in the current system is the extent that one’s donation can benefit patients and believe this bill will work to combat such shortcomings. These endeavors will be made possible by the introduction of specialised facilities in both public and private hospitals allowing individuals to use and donate stem cells to develop a greater number of organs.

Justice and Legal Affairs Bill:

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLA) have developed a bill on sexual assault. The sponsoring side has decided to focus on six agenda items. The first is revenge porn, which should be criminalized for offenders who share material of adults over the age of 18, not just minors. The second item is abortion, which they seek to decriminalize in the specific circumstance of sexual assault victims. Their third item regards the Longman and Robinson principle, where judges direct the jury to consider the time between assault occurring and the reporting of the assault as an indication of the victim’s dishonesty. They submit that it should be removed from bench books. The fourth item is the availability of anonymous pre-recorded testimonies to victims in all sexual assault cases. Their fifth item is on the standard of proof in sexual assault cases when establishing consent. It should be amended to ‘balance of probabilities’. The final item regards crisis-counseling records, which they suggest are classified as medical records that can be upheld in court as evidence.

Health and Disability Services Bill:

The 2017 Youth Accessibility Bill endeavours to make health care services and facilities more accessible for people with disabilities, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those from regional, rural and remote areas. We, the Health and Disability Services Committee, aim to do this by creating Health and Fitness initiatives within our communities, by regulating the marketing of unhealthy foods, and then service mapping to see where our efforts are most needed. After this, we will create a mandatory amount of health care facilities per x amount of people with consideration to the different needs of urban, regional, rural and remote areas. Finally, the Bill will outline a series of grants that will aid local committees and smaller groups to better support health and fitness related initiatives within our communities through providing adequate funding as judged by a commission that will be regulated by this bill.

Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Bill:

The Vulnerable Youth Diversion and Rehabilitation Act aims to address the youth crime epidemic in the state. The Act will urge state and local government to fund Indigenous and multicultural centres, facilitated by individuals from Indigenous and multicultural backgrounds who understand Aboriginal culture, history and the legal system. These centres will be established throughout Queensland based on geographical locations of youth crime and community representation. Unlike existing service providers and organisations, these community centres will act as a diversionary and rehabilitation program and a link between police/the courts and young people/the community. In addition to this, these centres will facilitate camps, activities, forums, events focusing on up-skilling, engaging and linking young people to educational, employment, cultural and sport activities. All these programs will focus on empowering young people, acknowledging and building understanding of their cultural identity, while taking into account their socio-economic status, family dynamics, education level, needs, interests and aspirations.

Education, Training and Skills Bill:

The Education, Training and Skill committee 2017 have endeavoured to build a bill that offers new approaches to the education system, approaches that have been proved successful in other countries. This includes the introduction of student-led learning schools (with their own curriculum) throughout Queensland to cater for students who learn best in this format. The bill also strives to create a clearer pathway from school into the workforce by implementing a transitional program. This will allow for students to complete vocational and academic studies together, to keep as many options open for them as possible. Finally the bill aims to create a greater culture of teacher autonomy in the classroom in order to combat the current issue of teacher retention rates. Through research and guidance the bill will target several trouble areas within our education and training sector and lay concrete plans to develop Queensland for the better. A stronger and fairer education system means a stronger and fairer future for our state.

Primary Industries and Environment Bill:

The Food Security Youth Bill 2017 aims to address several issues relating to the future of the agricultural industry in Queensland. Under the Youth Bill, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is enabled to investigate, regulate, and maintain minimum pricing standards to ensure that minimum pricing standards are fair and just for all stakeholders. The Queensland Government will ensure that even in times of extreme hardship and market fluctuations, fair and just pricing will be adhered to thereby supporting our farmers. The Youth Bill also promotes the consumption of local produce as opposed to international imports, with new rules concerning the minimum amount of Australian Produce that must occupy food retailers. New and clearer rules are also introduced under this legislation concerning the indication of origin of produce so that consumers may be more aware of where their food is coming from.