Giving young people a voice in government inquiries

Tuesday 30 April 2024

By Zoe Keath

Young people represent a significant portion of the population, yet their perspectives are often underrepresented in policy discussions. Submissions provide a platform for us to express our views on issues that directly impact our lives, ensuring that our concerns are heard and considered by policymakers. Encouraging young people to make submissions to parliamentary and government inquiries is crucial for elevating our voices, promoting civic engagement, informing policy decisions, enhancing policy relevance, and empowering future leaders.

#SubmissionsSunday was an initiative I started to address the lack of diverse, young voices making submissions or responses to Government and Parliamentary inquiries. So, how did it all start?

Last October, I attended the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership’s first Youth Summit. Not only was this an excellent opportunity to connect with other young activists who I have made enduring connections with, but it is also where I hatched the idea for #SubmissionsSunday. Through talking with activists, a lot of them cited that a barrier to them making submissions to government and parliamentary inquiries was the inaccessibility of the inquiry process and a lack of awareness when government and parliaments were looking into particular issues.

This is where #SubmissionsSunday was born.

Through the hashtag #SubmissionsSunday, I share a (usually) weekly digest of open inquiries across Australia for young people to make submissions. The traditional inquiry process is notoriously inaccessible and opaque, with a healthy knowledge of civics required to understand and navigate the inquiry process. Furthermore, government and parliamentary committees across Australia have made limited efforts to increase the accessibility of the inquiry process. As a result, traditional inquiry structures often favour established voices, leaving young Australians excluded from the decision-making process. #SubmissionsSunday aims to address this by collating opportunities for young Australians to influence decisions impacting their lives.

A short-term goal of #SubmissionsSunday is to increase the number of submissions to government and parliamentary inquiries from young, diverse perspectives. However, my long-term hope with #SubmissionsSunday is to raise a discourse around who gets to make these submissions and who gets to influence decision-making.

Since I started #SubmissionsSunday, it has picked up steam on my LinkedIn and I have engaged with organisations and MPs around supporting young people to make submissions. Conversely, I have also received insight from individuals who have been invited to appear at inquiries and make submissions and the upsetting and unfortunate they have been treated by parliamentary committees and government officials, including witnesses who were sharing their traumatic lived experiences. I hope that #SubmissionSunday and the increasing number of young, diverse voices making submissions to parliaments and governments will make the inquiry and submission process more accessible to all groups and that it illustrates the value of listening to different perspectives.

I am a strong believer in nothing about us, without us and I hope #SubmissionsSunday plays a role in making that a reality.

Thank you again for the work that GIWL does and for the opportunity to share #SubmissionsSunday which has only been possible thanks to GIWL. To get involved with #SumbmissionsSunday, please follow me on Linkedin

Updated:  1 May 2024/Responsible Officer:  Institute Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications