QAHS congratulates Year 12 student Juliette Levinge, who was selected as one of 20 Queensland state representatives to the 2020 National Schools Constitutional Convention. Juliette shares her experience of attending the 2020 Convention, held online.
"In 2019, I delivered a speech at the Queensland Parliament to advocate for a constitutionally enshrined representative Indigenous voice to the Commonwealth Parliament. The speeches were voted for by the student participants and I was elected along with four other students to represent Queensland and QAHS at the 2020 National Schools Constitutional Convention (NSCC).
In its 25th year, this Convention is an annual event and under normal circumstances would be a three-day program held in Canberra in March however, due to COVID-19 it was postponed and became a one-day online event during the recent spring holidays. The topic for the 2020 NSCC was Australia's Waters. At the beginning of the conference we heard from Dr Andrew Banfield, former Director of the Australian Centre for Federalism, who discussed federalism and Australia's Constitution, followed by Maryanne Slattery, the senior water researcher at the Australia Institute based in Canberra who detailed how Australia has dealt with water issues. Lastly, Dr Daniel Connell, who researches the governance of trans-boundary rivers in the federal systems of Australia and in other countries, addressed state versus federal control where he also introduced the idea of a regional government.
The purpose of the Convention was to inform high school students about the separation of powers through legislative responsibilities from international, national and state levels. Specifically it was to discuss and debate the specific listing of Commonwealth powers in the Australian Constitution and decide whether there should be a change to include water within the Commonwealth power.
The delegates were split into smaller groups to discuss opportunities offered by a movement to Commonwealth responsibility, problems associated with a change and the implications of the proposed shift to Commonwealth responsibility. After discussing the key issues, we reported our findings back to the cohort of delegates and listened to others share their views.
To conclude the Conference, Megan McCrone, Senior Education Officer with the Australian Electoral Commission, spoke about referenda and we then voted for or against water being listed as a Commonwealth power in the Australian Constitution. I am very honoured and thankful to be given this opportunity to speak on behalf of First Nation's People at the Convention and to be enlightened by the other delegates' knowledge.
I entered this experience having minimal political knowledge however, by taking this opportunity I was able to broaden my understanding of political science, listen to a number of different people's perspectives regarding the Australian Constitution and share my own perspectives. I must admit that I entered the day with some trepidation but left the event feeling more knowledgeable as it was an informative and unique experience that has given me an opportunity to further explore and understand more about our highest governing document."
Juliette Levinge - Year 12
Mrs Vanessa Rebgetz