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Student MP Matthew Ramirez

Study foreign language in year 12, says rep Ramirez at Multicultural Youth Leaders Day

Student MP Matthew Ramirez
Student MP Matthew Ramirez


The Multicultural Leaders Day at NSW Parliament on the 18th of October gave young people from Year 9 – 11 the opportunity to hear from political leaders and participate in a mock debate, inside the NSW Legislative Assembly Chamber.

The inaugural MCC Youth Leaders’ Day was organised by Minister Victor Dominello, Member for Ryde, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Citizenship and Communities. It is modelled on the very successful YMCA Youth and Junior Parliament, and aims to provide Multicultural Youth a voice.

I was chosen to represent the Filipino-Australian Community by the Past President of the Philippine Language and Cultural Association of Australia (PLCAA) and member of the Filipino Ministerial Consultative Committee, Dr Alexis Leones. This was on account of my previous successful representation of my State Electorate community in the inaugural YMCA NSW Junior Parliament.

The Speaker of the House was the Hon. Brian Doyle MP, Member for Campbelltown, who was a chairperson on the Filipino-Australian Ministerial Consultative Committee. I was also able to meet the other chairperson for the Committee, Kevin Conolly MP, the  Member for Riverstone. My local Member, Tanya Davies MP, was also a chairperson for the committee. I was delighted to have the opportunity to represent the Filipino-Australian community and address various community issues.

I proudly participated in all three debates concerning issues surrounding youth, in the affirmative capacity:

  1. Fixing 16 years as the minimum age for social media use
  2. Raising the legal age for alcohol consumption to 21
  3. Making Languages a compulsory school subject up to Year 10

Of these, I found the Language debate especially relevant to the community I was representing, and I spoke quite enthusiastically about the subject.

As I mentioned earlier, I took part in all three debates. For the first debate I argued about the danger of cyber-bullying and the “unchartered waters” of that area. I also raised the point of how excessive use of social media in younger years to lead to a degeneration of literacy and social communication skills, and dubbed the current generation “the Facebook Generation”.

The second debate was about increasing the legal alcohol consumption age. I had researched this topic beforehand and found some very interesting statistics pointing in my favour. I raised the point that how in Australia, a lack of legislation has led to higher rates of drug abuse, car accidents, poor academic performance, stunted cognitive and physical development and unwanted intercourse.

The Language was debate was my most passionate. I emphasized my Filipino-Australian background and the multicultural nature of Australia. I spoke of how my only opportunity to practice my native language of Tagalog was at home and how there was a chance of other languages dying out. I also made the link between an understanding of other languages and a better understanding of English. I found a really good quote from Nelson Mandela which I utilized to talk about our obligation to foster our multicultural society’s heritage.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

 The MCC Youth Leaders’ Day was an eye opening experience, and I was able to hear the views of students who not only came from all over the state, but also had backgrounds from all over the world. The inaugural Youth Leaders Day made a precedent in having such a high representation of our multicultural Australia. I was very proud to take part in this exceptional program and represent my culture. I’ve learnt so much from this experience and hope to give back by sharing my lessons and experiences with the community.