Read more: digest a thoughtful piece authored by student Christian Kitas in Year 11.
On Wednesday 28 July, the New South Wales Advocate for Young People, Zoë Robinson, along with Multiculturalism NSW, hosted an online forum for young people to hear NSW Government officials answer questions about COVID-19 from young people.
The forum included The Hon. Alister Henskens MP, Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, The Hon. Natalie Ward MLC, Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors and Veterans, Assistant Commissioner Gelina Talbot, Capability, Performance and Youth Command, NSW Police, Dr Jan Fizzell, Senior Health Advisor, NSW Health and Ms Deb Summerhayes, Executive Director, School Performance, Department of Education.
The forum was a major success and was extremely informative. All speakers responded to each of the questions in great detail and showed a tremendous amount of respect for each question asked. Questions included: Racism during COVID-19 and the blaming of suburbs for the current lockdown, vaccine mandates for school students, and whether AstraZeneca is safe for young people.
When answering questions, each speaker repeated the optimistic message that ‘We will get through this’, and this message of hope conveyed the mindset that everyone should adopt during this tough period of time; one of hope and optimism. This message was especially needed at this forum as the questions indicated that many students had a negative and pessimistic outlook toward the future in lockdown. However, the message reassured each attendee that we will get through this together.
One of the biggest benefits of attending this forum was the ability to hear the perspectives of other students and how lockdown was affecting them, their school community, and the wider community. It was especially interesting to hear questions from students whose schools were located in the local government areas which had the highest COVID-19 infection rates. Those questions were some of the most interesting to listen to, especially those regarding the vaccine and whether students will be able to attend school if they are unvaccinated. All questions asked were quite sophisticated and very worthy of being answered by the speakers who responded.
This forum inspired hope amongst students in a plethora of ways, and for myself, personally, I also left the forum with a newfound sense of hope. I became much more optimistic in my general feelings toward both this lockdown and COVID-19. I was also optimistic for the future generation due to the calibre of questions asked by the students, and I appreciated the articulate, detailed responses from the speakers.
To conclude, it was a remarkable event to attend, and I would like to thank the speakers and the NSW Advocate for Young People for organising this wonderful forum.
Year 11 Student Representative