Young voices amplified and pathways opened after visit to Parliament House Written by Jules, Youth Advisory Group Member. On a cold Friday morning in early August, I met fellow Youth Advisory Group (YAG) member Hope and our facilitator Julia at the steps of Parliament House of Victoria ahead of an incredibly special meeting. We were meeting with Naomi Simmonds – the Youth & Community Partnerships Coordinator at Parliament of Victoria - to discuss our role in the community as YAG, and the importance of having young voices at the table. Naomi was inspired by Kaif's written piece "Why Advocacy by Young People is Important" and invited YAG to visit and discuss opportunities for future collaborations with Parliament of Victoria. As we entered Parliament House, we were full of nerves - but so excited. We walked into Parliament, and it truly felt like the greatest sense of empowerment. This was our moment to talk about what we advocated so passionately for and share what our experiences were. It was a moment we had been hoping we would get for so long, a set time to be able to talk to someone in Parliament about what was important for us and striving for equality. All three of us are extremely passionate (and vocal) about LGBTIQ+ rights. We all believe that LGBTIQ+ people should be recognised as equal people in society. But, to get the equality we must use our voices and speak to people in power (Parliament). On significant days like ‘Wear it Purple Day,’ it gives our community an entire day to be heard, understood, and respected (which I wrote about recently). Image: (Left) Myself and Hope reading about the history of Parliament; and, (Right) me sitting at "The Table" The fight for equality is still far from over, and so having the opportunity to speak to someone at Parliament gave me a sense of purpose and exhilaration as it allowed for my voice to be heard openly and honestly. When I was younger, and still figuring out who I was. I wanted to be heard, respected, and understand. All without the prejudice that still comes with being a member of the LGBTIQ+ community. I wish I could go back and tell the younger Jules that one day your voice will be heard. Over some hot chocolate and a private tour of Parliament House, we were able to deep dive into a conversation about LGBTIQ+ rights and other topics we are super passionate about. We were also able to discuss upcoming opportunities for youth advocacy within Parliament. Image: My view of the chamber as we toured through Parliament Victoria The most special memory of the day was speaking to Naomi over some hot chocolate and, really diving deep into what was important to us and why youth advocacy is so important. From the visit to Parliament House, I hope that we all got the extra strength, reassurance, and courage to keep using our lived experiences and voice to help achieve change. Not only for the LGBTIQ+ community, but other issues young people are facing. By continuing to advocate for change, we can transform our environments into more accepting, understanding, and compassionate spaces into total equality. If you would like more information on Youth Advocacy or would like to join our Youth Advisory Group (YAG) please click here. This article is part of our youth-led content series created by young people on our Youth Advisory Group, for young people. This content series explores all sorts of issues impacting and inspiring young people across Melbourne’s northern and western regions. Content creators are sponsored through the Victorian Government’s Engage program.