Participants in the Office of Ethnic Communities’ Ethnic Youth Framework partnered with Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation (PYLAT) to host the 23rd iSpeak on Parliament event on May 28. Speaker of the House Rt Hon. Trevor Mallard and a team of MPs including Sarah Pallet, Hon. Eugenie Sage and Toni Severin attended the event, connecting with ethnic and Pacifica youth from Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Rt Hon Mallard and the other attending MPs answered questions and reflected on their roles as MPs, giving the youth form OEC’s Ethnic Youth Framework and PYLAT an opportunity to deepen their awareness of parliamentary functions and increase their knowledge of the New Zealand legislative system.
After the event, participants worked together to draft a submission to Parliament, which served as a hands-on exercise on civic participation. They later said the event increased their knowledge and willingness to remain engaged, and that they enjoyed the discussions and the clear answers given by the guests.
Rt Hon Mallard said he arrived at the event feeling tired after a big day, but the chance to connect with young people meant that he left the venue “absolutely energised”.
The event's emcee Bidhya Chhetri (16) said this experience has strengthened her confidence ability to interact with people. She recognised these connections with MPs as a valuable and rich source of knowledge and insight into the ways in which government works.
The Ethnic Youth Framework focuses on facilitating interactions between youth groups and OEC partner agencies around the themes of resilience, identity and empowerment.
This event was the latest in a series of conversations the OEC has held with ethnic youth around civic participation, an issue that falls under the Ethnic Youth Framework’s empowerment theme. In July 2020 participants in the Framework attended a legal empowerment activity where they learned more about the New Zealand legal system and the support services available to navigate it. They have also engaged with the Electoral Commission around voting and supported its work in the context of the latest round of elections. All these activities provided inspiration for ethnic youth who are starting their university study or considering their early career steps.