During the last school holidays, Patrick O'Brien took part in The Queensland Youth Parliament Sitting Week, completing his role as the 2017 Youth Member for The Condamine Electorate. This week brought 93 youth together to speak passionately about issues that were important to them. As a Member on the Education, Training and Skills Committee, Patrick spoke about establishing Experimental Learning Academies in Queensland. The Youth Government fought against The Youth Opposition for amendments to be included within the Youth Bill. Patrick was on The Government Side and fought for the amendments to be passed, which included for these Experimental Learning Academies to be established based on population rather than geography, for the Experimental Academies to start in High School and to give teachers more autonomy in deciding the curriculum. The Youth Bill Passed with Amendments and has subsequently been handed over to the Government Speaker, Premier, Education Minister and Shadow Education Minister for consideration.
Patrick also spoke many other times during the week, including moving against the motion for the Olympics to be held in Queensland in front of Commonwealth Games Dignitaries, blocking Minimum Pricing Standards for Agricultural products in Queensland and his Private Members Statement. This statement focused on the unskilled labour shortage and Patrick proposed a solution of expanding the Seasonal Worker’s Program with the Pacific Islands. This program brings islanders over to Australia to work on farms and can subsequently build a life at home. After his speech Patrick received a personal compliment from the Shadow Education Minister, Tracie Davies (Deputy Speaker), chairing the session.
It was an exciting and exhausting week, including a reception at Government House hosted by His Excellency, Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland, a river cruise and lunches with dignitaries. At the end of the week at the Closing Ceremony Patrick won the Body, Mind and Spirit award, nominated by the Youth Governor, Catherine Cassels, as well as the Executive Team who run The Youth Parliament. This award is given to the Youth Member who is supportive to all, gives their all and is a positive role model for their community and throughout the Youth Parliament Experience. Patrick reflects upon this week as being the most life-changing experience he has ever had and recommends the program to anyone interested in having their say.