THEY see the big picture and they have informed views on how to make the world a better place, but they can’t vote.
They’re the teenagers of Warrnambool.
Much is often suggested about the apathy of young people when it comes to politics.
It’s true that there is a sense of frustration. A quick news scan shows elections are almost entirely geared towards small businesses and parents.
Rebecca Dyson, 13, is halfway through year 7 at Warrnambool College and catches the headlines most evenings.
“Only we know what we want, know one else can decide for us,” she said.
“It’s compulsory for people over 18 but it should be optional for people under 18.”
It’s a view fellow year seven student Lolita Harrison, 13, shares.
“I think it would focus more on the future and education. If there was something they were saying that was relating to me then I would definitely vote,” she said.
At only 12 years old Matthew Rea says he wants the right to help choose the nation’s path.
“I would vote if I could,” he said.
All three students had a chance to question Wannon Liberal MP Dan Tehan and Labor candidate Michael Barling yesterday morning.
The environment was a big talking point.
“What’s the point to everything else in the election campaign if we continue to destroy our ecosystems?” Rebecca said. Issues about recreation and youth services also took up discussion.
Interestingly, after both candidates left, The Standard asked the students what issues they felt were most important.
“I think the asylum seeker issue is something there needs to be action on,” Matthew said.
All three wanted to see a more compassionate approach towards refugees.
“I believe we should let them in. They’re going to places that are pretty much like concentration camps,” Rebecca said.
Lolita, who hopes to one day work in international development, voiced her disappointment in the major parties.
“I think it’s unfair, they’ve come from countries with such horrible circumstances. They’ve risked their lives to come to Australia and a better place,” she said.
Matthew echoed those remarks.
“The density of population in Australia isn’t very high,” he said.
Labor candidate Michael Barling — a teacher at Emmanuel College — said the best way to connect with young voters was “by not acting as a politician”.
“It’s a real challenge for adults in general. You’re not telling kids stuff — you’re having a discussion with them,” he said.