We recently interviewed David Davis, current YMCA Life Governor and founder of Youth Parliament, who lives in Adelaide. In his interview, David shared about his idea and the history of the commencement of Youth Parliament, how he expanded it nationally, and his great insights about working with young people.
We learned that Youth Parliament commenced from a "High Y" - high school assembly get together camp discussion about issues. David had heard about the program in the U.S. called "Youth in Government" where they took over their congress, and he was keen to give debating bills a go in Australia.
"I thought about a youth parliament, but was hesitant to bring it up. I thought - the modern young person wouldn't be interested in politics," David said.
The first youth parliament commenced in Melbourne in September, 1986, and David wanted to make sure young people were expressing what they wanted to.
"When I commenced the first youth parliament, it was a big risk. What if young people "mucked up" - it would mean that we could not continue the program at Parliament House. But they never did." David said.
He also expanded the program throughout the states, and ran training courses to prepare young people for their youth parliament experience.
"I had the pleasure of working with wonderful young people, inspiring young people, I can’t tell you how important it was to have the pleasure of working with such intelligent young people. I’m so pleased to have worked with them, and if I can say I’m leaving a bit of a legacy, Youth Parliament is it," he added.
We're so thankful for his great contribution to the YMCA, his belief in young people and his role-modelling of intergenerational leadership to empower young people.
See David's full interview here, which includes his original concept and the history of Youth Parliament.