21 June 2022

Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains) (19:25): It is often said that the world of politics exists in a bubble. As MPs and staffers who live and breathe politics, it can often be refreshing to spend some time listening to the views of young people newly exposed to our political environment. In the previous sitting week, I had the privilege of hosting two work experience students from Katoomba High School. Year 10 students Joe Woodburn and Edward Bell-Smith were able to join me and my team both in our electorate office in Springwood and at Parliament House. I asked them to prepare a speech for me detailing their experiences and sharing some of their thoughts about our line of work. Here is what they had to say:

Work experience with Trish Doyle was a once in a lifetime experience. The time we spent in her office was informative, interesting and fun. Her staffers Kal, Donna, Kate and Ilsa made us feel right at home, welcoming us into the office and giving us projects to work on. We also thank Camille for helping to organise our placement.

Before coming to Trish's office, we both assumed that the work that we would be given would be mundane tasks such as making tea and shredding paper. This could not be further from the truth as the work that we were given had genuine importance. In the first couple of hours of arriving, we were given the task of drafting an email to the Minister for Regional Roads and to the constituents of the Megalong Valley.

Throughout the week, we wrote several more reports on various topics including the proposed Lithgow Incinerator. We drafted Notices of Motions on both the disastrous effect that raising the Warragamba Dam would have on the environment and the lack of action by the Government on installing air purifiers at local schools. We were even given the task of drafting a letter to the Premier.

The tasks were challenging and involved a lot of time, research and patience which gave us a greater understanding of all the hard work that staffers do that often goes unnoticed. The outstanding interest that they have in local issues and all the time that they give to the constituents really is what keeps our communities running.

After three days in the office, we made the trip down to Sydney to spend the day inside of Parliament House. Trish very kindly spent the morning giving us a tour of the area and introduced us to so many of her colleagues which was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed meeting and talking to everybody, including the members for Cessnock, Londonderry, Kogarah, Swansea, Lakemba, The Entrance, Bankstown, Campbelltown, Pittwater, Hornsby as well as the Honourable Bronnie Taylor MLC and the wonderful parliamentary staff.

We were surprised by how warm, friendly and welcoming everybody was to us, with so many MPs taking time out of their busy schedules to listen to what we have to say and talk to us about life in the political world. It was also interesting to see the contrasting difference between how Members acted inside and outside of Question Time.

In the afternoon of our visit we had the opportunity to attend a forum on Men's Mental Health. The forum was very emotive and gave us real insight into the way that we look at suicide in Australia. The Minister for Mental Health started off by speaking about the great progress that has been made in the prevention against male suicide in recent years, but also talked about the work that needs to be done.

We heard the moving story of a man who had experienced suicidal thoughts in his life and the suggestions that he had in preventing suicide. Growing stronger as a community, so that we get to the point where men are able to speak comfortably about their wellbeing is vital in dealing with suicide rates.

Until the day comes when men feel comfortable to share their feelings and stories, male suicide will always be an issue.

It was really concerning to learn of the statistics about male suicide rates in Australia. About 75% of suicides are men, 42% of men will drop out of therapy and 72% of men will not seek help on mental health problems. This is why programs like Doing it Tough are so important. Every day in Australia 7 men commit suicide, which is why we need communities that provide a space for men to talk about their problems and the forum we went to highlighted this important issue.

We are both really thankful for the way we were taken on board as part of the team at Trish's office and how we were given work that was important and meaningful. We thank the Speaker for his acknowledgement at the beginning of Question Time. We also thank the kind members of Parliament from both houses for taking time out of their busy days to meet with us. We hope that we can spend more time in the future inside of Trish's office and Parliament House.

Mr ADAM CROUCH (Terrigal) (19:30): I thank the member for Blue Mountains for delivering this evening that extremely well written speech by the school volunteers. It was probably the best speech the member for Blue Mountains has delivered in this Chamber.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Alex Greenwich): They are all good.

Mr ADAM CROUCH: It was great to see that young school volunteers could spend time in an MP's office and come into this Chamber and also realise that, away from the argy-bargy of question time, a lot of collaborative work goes on between MPs in this place, some with good humour because we often need it in this job. It is great that young people are wanting to engage with MPs and learn about what we do on a daily or weekly basis and how this incredible Parliament works for the entire community of New South Wales. I commend those students for their excellent contributions. I am glad they enjoyed their time in Parliament and volunteering in the office of the member for Blue Mountains. No doubt similar sorts of engagements with students across New South Wales should be encouraged for all MPs.