Australia’s ‘Make It 16’ campaign has officially hit the ground running at its local launch in Melbourne.
‘Make it 16’ is a non-partisan, youth-led campaign advocating for the lowering of the voting age to 16 years old. The campaign seeks to challenge the status quo that young people are ‘disengaged with politics’ and should have a say in their political representatives when it comes time to hit the election polls.
Campaign organisers, Ravin Desai (17) and Ella Simons (16) from the ‘Make It 16 Youth Action Group’, kicked off August 27 event at Docklands, in Melbourne. A crowd of passionate young people and youth organisation stakeholders from all over Victoria attended, along with Greens MP Aiv Puglielli and Independent MP Monique Ryan.
Ravin, a staunch youth advocate, said the ‘Make it 16’ campaign is about empowerment and enfranchising a whole generation.
“By age 16, we are already learning to drive, starting jobs, enrolling in the armed forces, paying taxes and even paying rent, it’s the legal age for consent of sex, we should be able to have our voices heard. We should be allowed to vote in the civic process,” Ravin said.
“If this campaign is successful, we have this enormous chance to enfranchise a whole generation of young people.”
Ella agreed, saying she is excited by the campaign and the steps ahead.
“We’re really excited to be launching this campaign for Victoria here today,” she said. “It’s really important that young people are given the right to vote in order to be putting politicians in power that will make decisions on the things that can affect us the most.”
The Members of Parliament present at the launch have thrown their support behind the campaign.
Aiv Puglielli said he thought young people were a huge part of the equation of political representation, yet the representation inside the Parliament of Victoria was just not there.
“We know that young people are living with the decisions and the impacts long-term that politicians make, yet there’s a small representation of ‘younger’ people in parliament,” he said.
“To be able to capture the information and viewpoints of young people, we need youth to have a seat at the table.”
Monique Ryan said young people needed to know they matter in the Australian political landscape.
“Make it 16 is spreading a much-needed school of thought in politics to say ‘we respect you and you have value, and we want to hear your voice’, and, you know, let’s all do this together.”