On the first Monday of the Christmas holidays, we arrived at the Nunyara Conference Centre in Belair to begin our 3 day YMCA Junior Parliament Residential Camp. The first activity we participated in as soon as we were signed in and said goodbye to Mum and Sophie, were a few “get to know you” games which were good as these were the people we would be living and working with for the next 3 days.

After this we learnt the basics of parliament, leadership skills and voted the leaders of our side of Parliament, the Government. In the afternoon we regrouped and made paper-mache pots and planted succulents as gifts to bring home and during recreation time, we played ping pong with some new friends we made. At the end of the day, we had a team meeting to discuss our motions for parliament, had tea and went to bed. Nicholas joined the Science and Technology Committee and Rhys joined the Arts and Culture Committee.

Day two started with free time followed by planning our motions with our teams. Nicholas chose the motion of Futureproofing Through STEM Motion and Rhys chose Increasing Awareness of Culture Through Education and Art Motion. After this, we had more practice on what to say in Parliament. Following lunch was a practice entrance debate about how we should build a wall on the SA-Victorian border and SA should become a republic. Before we went to bed, we got together with our side (the Government) and discussed every teams topic and our plan for tomorrow. We then went to bed after a quick wrap up of the day.

The last day was the big day of Parliament. We packed our rooms and bags, put on our suits and headed to the Chapel for the Mock House of Assembly at the Conference Centre complete with a throne, the Australian, South Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. Due to Covid-19 we were unable to visit Parliament House in the city as we had done last year. Here we both spoke while debating our topics and voted whether they passed – Nicholas’ didn’t pass but Rhys’ did. At the end of the day, we were presented with Certificates of Attendance, said our goodbyes to new and old friends and headed for home.

“ Junior Parliament provides a forum for young South Australians to express their views in a safe and supported environment. It’s all about personal development, youth empowerment and connecting politicians and decision makers with youth voices and opinions”.

It was an enjoyable experience and one we would both participate in again and recommend to others.

By Rhys Heinrich & Nicholas Heinrich