LEADERS of tomorrow from Armadale and Gosnells talked drugs, education, mental health and violence at a special Youth Leadership Forum recently.
Two representatives from Carey Baptist College, John Calvin Christian College, Lumen Christi College and Armadale, Harrisdale, Kelmscott and Thornlie senior high schools met with Burt MHR Matt Keogh to discuss their biggest concerns and how these could be addressed.
Mr Keogh said the issues and solutions discussed at the forum had been compiled into a youth leadership report, which he would present to Premier Mark McGowan, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten.
“It was interesting to see how a number of students identified similar areas of concern and showed great insight into the causes and effects of such issues,” he said.
Education funding was at the heart of the students concerns with the students highlighting the need for properly funded schools and funding for education and advertising programs to combat drug addiction, tackle the stigma of mental health and address youth crime and violence.
John Calvin Christian College teacher Brendan Pitlo said the forum had been an “excellent opportunity for students to express their concerns directly to their representative and the students really appreciated the opportunity to be heard.”
Forum Recommendations on drug use:
1. Funding for improved and more confrontational education campaigns on television, social media and in schools, which are realistic as to the effects of different types of drugs.
Recommendations on mental health:
1. Maintain the National School Chaplaincy Program.
2. Increase availability of qualified school psychologists.
3. Provide supports and training to teachers to be able to address mental health issues in the classroom to remove stigma.
4. More funding for mental health programs targeted at young people in schools.
Recommendations on youth crime and violence:
1. Create spaces where young people can seek help and guidance about issues they are confronting that can lead to crime and violence, such as family issues, mental health concerns, drug use, and family, school and community conflicts.
2. Greater assistance to police to facilitate programs aimed at young people at risk of becoming involved in crime and violence.
3. Better address the causes and effects of family and domestic violence.
Recommendations on valuing education:
1. Increase funding for school education to facilitate smaller teaching loads.
2. Improve university funding for teaching degrees or first degrees leading to an education qualification.
3. Explore ways to make entry into teaching qualifications and the teaching profession more attractive to high achieving students, to improve perceptions of teachers and the value of education.