National Schools Constitutional Convention 2015

On the 24-26th of March, I was honoured with the opportunity to be one of the 29 youth from NSW to go to the National Schools Constitutional Convention for 2015. Overall, 120 students from government, independent and Catholic schools around Australia were selected to attend this convention, which was held at the Old Parliament House in Canberra.

Over the years, NSCC has embraced a distinguished calibre of participants and I am always honoured to be involved with experiences that go above and beyond. I engaged with like-minded peers and political figures that had a diverse range of opinions on the chosen topic: Whether Australia needs a Bill of Rights. It made my time in Canberra one I will never forget.

The convention was not all about the Bill of Rights, we did have time to interact with our peers having fun at night and during our breaks. On the first night we got mixed between the states and played a game of trivia, and during the day we spent time talking to people we had not met, but when it came to times of competition, it was a battle between the states.

During the convention, I met notable political figures. To name a few, Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Justice Stephen Gageler, and Senior State Administrator the Governor of Victoria His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC. 

We spent our time in groups discussing the Bill of Rights then coming back together and telling everybody our thoughts. In the end, the results of the plebiscite were 47% voted yes and 53% voted no.

I feel the convention taught me new things about the Parliament and its political system and gave me the opportunity to have my say about the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democratic system. Overall, this was the experience of a lifetime and one I will never forget.

Ashleigh Zarb
Year 12 student