Parliament reaches out to regional youth

1 February 2024

The Victorian Parliament's first regional youth associate Lydia Reiske, originally from Gippsland and now based in Shepparton.
The Victorian Parliament's first regional youth associate Lydia Reiske, originally from Gippsland and now based in Shepparton.

When young people from around the state converged on Parliament House for a youth forum to discuss issues that matter most to them, participants from regional Victoria had a clear message.

Come and visit us in our hometowns to see and hear from us first-hand, they told MPs and parliamentary officials during the forum’s final session.

This year parliament is planning to do just that, by hosting youth forums in Shepparton and Kyabram as part of a suite of engagement activities leading up to the Legislative Council’s regional sitting in Echuca in April.

Lydia Reiske has joined parliament’s community engagement team as a youth associate to coordinate the forums, becoming parliament’s very first regional youth associate since the program began in 2017.

Under the program, young people are provided with opportunities to work with parliament, building their skills and experience while enabling them to contribute in meaningful ways to parliament’s work.

Lydia hails from Boolarra, a small township in the Latrobe Valley in Central Gippsland. She is currently in her second year at the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Medicine Rural Pathway based in Shepparton.

As an active member of Youthrive Victoria and having served as their alumni committee co-president over the past year, Lydia is well placed to help parliament strengthen its connections with young people living in rural and regional Victoria. Youthrive is a charity with a vision to strengthen rural and regional communities through the empowerment of their youth to be leaders. 

‘Growing up on a farm and having experienced rural living I’m committed to listening to regional communities and highlighting their strengths as well as their hardships,’ Lydia says.

‘I look forward to hearing from young rural voices from across northern Victoria and continuing to foster connections for regional Victorians to engage in democracy.’

Young people attending a forum at Parliament House called for more engagement by all MPs with youth in regional Victoria.

Parliament’s regional youth forums will allow young people to discuss issues meaningful to their communities and will consider additional opportunities for parliament to engage with young people in regional and rural areas into the future.

‘Living in a regional area can sometimes make it difficult to feel seen and heard. I believe it’s important to acknowledge there are many issues unique to regional living that many not be experienced by our metro counterparts,’ Lydia says.

Lydia Reiske met with Kane Stewart and Samantha Smith from Campaspe Shire Council as part of the planning for the upcoming regional youth forums.

She will focus on developing positive connections with local young people and organisations to ensure the forums provide the best possible opportunity to reflect the needs and aspirations of participants.

‘I’m looking forward to hearing from young people regarding issues close to their hearts and watching them engage with their local representatives.’

The State of the Future forum saw young people from across Victoria share their views on issues that matter most to them.

Young people interested in finding out more about the upcoming youth forums can contact Lydia and the community engagement team via email at or subscribe for free to parliament’s youth newsletter.