Parliament Prize 2023: What were young people talking about this year

22 September 2023

Every year, the young people who enter our Parliament Prize competition talk about a really diverse variety of topics. These range from big concepts and international issues such as homelessness, world peace and climate change, to local issues such as street lights and school crossings, and everything in between.

Based on 1018 entries, we've compiled some top-level categories that represent the most popular themes addressed by participants in this year's competition. They provide an interesting insight into the issues young people are thinking about and, more importantly, talking about. Click on each of the categories listed below to jump to more detail about some of the particular topics that are important to young people all over Victoria.


Animal rights - 41 entries

Animal protection

  • Animal rights
  • Animal abuse and cruelty
  • Supporting cruelty free brands
  • Animal testing and its impacts
  • The importance of animal safety
  • Awareness of animals’ emotions

Endangered animals and native wildlife

  • Habitat protection of endangered animals
  • Protecting native wildlife from cats
  • Protection of and education about endangered animals
  • Protecting koalas
  • Saving echidnas
  • Saving marine life
  • Wildlife safety and protection
  • Saving animals impacted by bushfires

Domestic animals and animal entertainment

  • Better pet parks
  • Dog parks for smaller dogs
  • Animal licences
  • Dog breed restrictions
  • Improving the treatment of animals in sport
  • Banning greyhound racing, horse racing and steeplechase

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Crime, justice, laws and safety - 82 entries

Youth rights and child protection

  • Improving our foster system
  • Child incarceration
  • Raising the age for criminal responsibility
  • Fighting youth crime and the increasing youth crime rates
  • Introducing youth support centres to reduce youth crime
  • Reducing youth crime through increasing inclusivity
  • The impact of youth violence
  • Youth gambling and the impact of gambling ads on children
  • Banning gambling ads in children's games
  • Change the driving age


  • Combating drug importation
  • Enforcement of drug laws
  • Crime prevention and crime reduction
  • Graffiti prevention and reduction of vandalism
  • Issues of increasing assault rates
  • Addressing absconding

Road safety

  • The importance of road safety laws
  • Improving road safety
  • Reducing the road toll and the regional road toll
  • Speeding
  • Speed cameras and enforcing speed limits, especially in rural Victoria
  • Penalties for drunk drivers
  • Hoon driving and reckless driving
  • Creating more bike lanes
  • Banning e-scooters

Cyber safety and laws

  • Data breaches
  • AI regulations
  • Embracing AI
  • AI drawing rules
  • Protections against hacking
  • The issue of scams
  • Social media should be banned

Laws & justice system

  • Fair punishments
  • Overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander Peoples in the criminal justice system
  • Treatment of Aboriginal Peoples in custody
  • Penalties for fake Indigenous souvenirs
  • Safe injecting centres, including removing medically supervised injecting rooms
  • Reforming vape distribution laws
  • Regulating vape packaging and promotion
  • Raising the legal drinking age
  • Preventing drivers’ licenses on smart phones
  • Betting commercials & banning sports betting ads
  • Content ratings

People safety

  • Improving legal literacy
  • Reducing farm related accidents
  • Increasing safety at night
  • Increasing security at stadium
  • Keep our streets safe and the importance of streetlights
  • Addressing the shortage of crossing supervisors
  • Increasing the police force in small towns
  • Increasing lifeguards
  • Increasing LGBTQIA+ protections
  • Stopping to Domestic Violence
  • Martial arts

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Education - 194 entries

Education reform

  • Banning homework and the importance of homework
  • Reconsidering the VCE scaling system, including removing ATARs
  • Better quality local secondary schools
  • Changing and improving Victoria's education system
  • Issues facing primary and secondary schools, including supporting primary schools
  • Removing late fees for libraries
  • The issue of school zones and removing school zones
  • The pressures on the school system
  • Reviewing the Victorian Curriculum
  • Curriculum subjects and extra-curricular activities

Curriculum subjects and extra-curricular activities

  • Teaching cooking programs, STEAM programs, climate change and more languages in Victorian primary schools
  • Teaching financial literacy, road safety, scam prevention, cyber safety, social media and health programs (vaping, alcohol and chroming) in schools
  • Improving education about Australia's involvement in wars, including better Holocaust education, and human rights and anti-racism education
  • Including Yarning Circles in all primary schools
  • Increasing extension programs and extra curricula activities in schools
  • Modernising the sex education curriculum
  • Prioritising health in education
  • Teaching grammar and punctuation, politics, self-defence, tax and GST in schools
  • The devaluing of The Arts
  • The importance of learning about culture
  • Improving access to sports, sports equipment and swimming programs
  • Supporting more sport enrolments
  • Teaching Indigenous languages and cultures in schools
  • Introducing a VCE subject on Indigenous Australia
  • Improving education about Indigenous Australians

Funding and the cost of education

  • Closing the gap in funding for schools, including increasing public school funding
  • Equal funding for girls' schools
  • Funding for the Australian Scholarship test
  • Government funding for underprivileged schools
  • Investing more in science
  • School uniforms should be free
  • The importance of access to books
  • Free education for everyone, including free university


  • Teaching AUSLAN in every school
  • Improving accessibility in public schools to cater for deaf students
  • Autism acceptance and awareness
  • Bridging the language gap
  • Support for diverse students, including but not limited to students who are neurodiverse
  • Equality and equity in education
  • Increasing learning supports and intervention for students, including extra support for students with learning difficulties
  • Education about gender identity and diversity, and addressing gender equality in schools
  • Improving connections between schools and families
  • Improving uniform diversity
  • More education support in primary schools
  • Supporting international students
  • Better education for Aboriginal students


  • Better toilet facilities at schools
  • Building a 24/7 hub
  • Building playgrounds at high schools, inclusive and safer playgrounds in every school
  • Funding for school infrastructure
  • Improving internet access
  • Increasing school pedestrian crossings, including crossings with guards
  • More kindergartens in Boroondara and more schools
  • School transportation issues
  • Free public transport for students
  • Sharing facilities between schools

Student wellbeing

  • The importance of recess
  • Nap breaks in schools
  • Female hygiene in primary schools
  • Free breakfast and lunch programs in schools, including milk and fruit breaks in classrooms
  • Student wellbeing in Victoria and funding for mental health resources for school
  • Support animals and animal programs in schools
  • Improving mental health supports in primary schools
  • Incorporating school gardens and more nature for student wellbeing
  • More crossing guards at schools and increasing student supervision at schools
  • Preventing bullying in schools and the impact of cyberbullying through better anti-bullying programs
  • Introducing screen time limits for students
  • Vaping in schools and smoking exclusion zones around schools
  • The impacts of poverty on education
  • The issues surrounding school refusal


  • Assessing the risk of Chat GPT and restricting chat GPT use for students
  • The AI epidemic and the challenges of AI for students
  • Embracing AI automate writing tools
  • Schools supplying electronic devices and equal access to technology in education
  • No laptops in primary schools
  • The digital divide - increasing access to technology
  • The impact of using devices
  • Why computers should be used for VCE examinations

Teacher wellbeing and support

  • Fixing the teacher shortage
  • Increasing pay for kindergarten teachers and teachers’ salary
  • Increasing teacher supports
  • Increasing the number of specialist teachers in Mathematics and languages

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Employment, economy and cost of living - 71 entries

Cost of living

  • Addressing the rental crisis and housing affordability
  • Supporting the elderly and young people with housing
  • Cheaper cost of living and fuel prices
  • Creating affordable housing
  • Rising house prices
  • Reducing grocery prices and rent
  • Electricity and fuel prices
  • Decreasing high tax in Australia
  • Decreasing inflation and the impacts of interest rates
  • Poverty in Australia, including reducing the number of children in poverty
  • Subsidising the internet
  • The impact of poverty on children
  • The price of organic foods


  • Fixing police hours
  • Bringing the elderly and young together
  • Catering for ADHD in the workplace
  • Exploitation of migrant workers
  • Fair pay for our nurses
  • Increasing funding for fire brigades
  • Lowering the employment age
  • Supporting Indigenous Australians to gain employment
  • Wage adjustment for low SES families

Supporting businesses and the economy

  • Saving the timber industry
  • Growing the music record industry
  • Victoria’s investment in manufacturing and improving manufacturing
  • Australia should be self-sufficient, including supporting state-run companies
  • Australia’s investment in space
  • Economic inequality
  • The importance of supporting our farmers
  • The introduction of 4 day weeks

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Environmental issues and climate change - 149 entries

Recycling and waste reduction

  • Increasing Victoria's environmental sustainability
  • Better recycling systems and waste reduction and management systems
  • Increasing the number of recycling and compost bins
  • Recycling soft plastics
  • Decreasing plastic bag usage
  • Better plastic waste management
  • Plastic Roads
  • Recycling lithium-ion batteries and soft plastics
  • Reducing waste, including food waste and waste from food packaging
  • Upcycling
  • The impacts of fast fashion

Climate change

  • Taking action and protecting our world against climate change
  • Global warming
  • Australia’s role in stopping climate change
  • Cars and climate change
  • Understanding and reversing climate change
  • The importance of saving our planet

Ecosystem and environment protection

  • Creating a greener Australia
  • Reducing deforestation in Victoria and banning logging
  • Establishing more community gardens
  • Protecting the ecosystem, and the benefits for mental health
  • Increasing the amount of green spaces, especially in our cities
  • Environment and ecosystem protection
  • Supporting our ecosystems and preventing biodiversity loss
  • Restoring Elster Creek
  • Saving our environment, especially native forests
  • Phasing out of native forest logging and stopping logging in old growth forests
  • Protecting endangered animals, native animals and their habitats
  • Saving the bees
  • Stopping overfishing
  • Electric vehicles for the environment
  • Banning people from hunting wildlife
  • Conservation of endangered insects
  • Preserving the Great Barrier Reef

Pollution and environmental impacts

  • Shutting down coal power plants
  • Decreasing emissions and pollution, including reducing fossil fuel use
  • Natural gas and the effects on ecosystems
  • Reducing and stopping plastic use
  • Preventing plastic pollution, especially in our waterways
  • Stopping littering, including decreasing littering schools
  • Illegal rubbish dumping and penalties
  • Reducing pollution, litter and waste
  • How pollution and litter affect animals
  • Banning glitter
  • Reducing air pollution, including banning wood fireplaces
  • Reducing the use of petrol cars
  • Reducing trucks in Yarraville
  • Technology and the environment
  • The impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef
  • The impact of environmental degradation, global warming and tree depletion and deforestation
  • The importance of water
  • Stopping the use of palm oil
  • The effects of second-generation pesticides
  • Pollution in the Yarra River

Energy reduction, renewable energy and sustainability

  • Repurposing level crossings
  • Solar panels should be required on new builds
  • Encouraging and increasing electric car use
  • The negative impacts of electric cars
  • Increasing renewable energy sources
  • Electric school busses
  • Creating sustainable schools
  • Sustainable practices and renewable energies
  • Net zero for Victoria, including in schools
  • Improving sustainability

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Health, mental health and wellbeing - 145 entries

Bullying, social media and cyber safety

  • Stopping bullying and anti-bullying programs
  • Banning bullying and effective bullying control
  • Preventing cyber safety and the impacts of cyberbullying
  • Encouraging people to be upstanders
  • Creating better cyber safety
  • Pros and Cons of social media
  • Online safety and the impact on children

Children’s health

  • Developing child support groups
  • Looking after the rights and wellbeing of children in foster care
  • Minimising excessive technology use in children
  • The issue of child obesity
  • Better healthcare for children
  • The Resilience Project for kids

Health and illness

  • Allergy awareness
  • Curing motor-neuron disease
  • Protecting students from influenza
  • Providing skin cancer checks for everyone
  • Improving sun safety awareness
  • The impact of domestic violence
  • Genetic addiction risk score tests as a solution to substance abuse
  • Banning alcohol for all ages and reducing underage drinking
  • The negative impacts of alcohol
  • Reforming Victoria’s approach to addiction
  • Ending the ‘heroin chic’ trend
  • The negative effects of junk food advertising
  • The unnecessary addition of sugar and introducing a sugar tax
  • Banning energy drinks, especially for children
  • Preventing gambling addiction, banning gambling and gambling ads

Health care system and staffing

  • Providing services and supports for neurodiverse individuals
  • Affordable health care and cheaper health care services
  • Creating more mental health facilities
  • Creating more public hospitals in Victoria
  • Hospital wait-times and emergency care response times
  • Shortage of doctors in priority care
  • Improving our medical system and addressing overcrowding in hospitals
  • Supporting emergency health services
  • The issue of isolation amongst our elderly
  • Problems in Victoria’s health department
  • Improving safety for health care workers
  • Improving hospitals and the aged care system and access to aged care
  • Improving medical services for anaphylaxis and allergies

Mental health

  • Understanding and improving youth mental health issues
  • Impact of social media on teenagers
  • Awareness of youth mental health issues and suicide
  • Improving mental health awareness, supports, access to supports and education
  • Reducing depression and anxiety rates
  • Addressing Australia’s mental health crisis
  • The effect of high expectations on mental health
  • The mental health impacts of gender inequality
  • Treating drug addiction as a mental health issue
  • Bike riding for mental health

Smoking and vaping

  • Banning cigarettes, drugs and vaping
  • Banning smoking and vaping in public places
  • Changing vape packaging and stopping vape advertising
  • Increasing vaping restrictions
  • Creating designated smoking areas
  • Reducing the number of children/young people vaping
  • The effects of vaping, especially on young people
  • Vaping and cigarette addictions, especially in young Australians
  • The health concerns of smoking and second-hand smoke


  • Improving Australia’s place in the World Happiness Survey
  • Improving dignity for women
  • Providing access to free food, such as breakfast clubs or free lunches
  • Decreasing stress
  • Reducing family violence
  • Breaking the cycle
  • More vegetable gardens
  • Understanding the importance of pets and pet therapy
  • Support animals in schools and workplaces
  • The art of living
  • The intergenerational wellbeing scheme
  • Reducing screen time to increase wellbeing

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Homelessness - 26 entries

  • Decreasing and solving homelessness
  • Fighting poverty in Australia
  • Homelessness in Australia, Victoria, Geelong and the Mornington Peninsula
  • Supporting our homeless community
  • Youth homelessness
  • Developing more donation centres
  • More resources to prevent homelessness
  • Restaurants should donate unused food
  • Providing and improving recreation activities for the homeless

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Human rights, anti-racism and anti-discrimination - 109 entries

Cultural and religious awareness and rights

  • Creating unity amongst multicultural Australia
  • The need to promote multiculturalism
  • Welcoming different cultures to Australia
  • Chinese New Year should be a public holiday
  • Embracing cultural diversity
  • Forced marriages in Australia
  • Free Palestine
  • Creating an inclusive and appropriate national anthem
  • Protecting the minority voices
  • The role of diversity in parliament and the economy

First Nations People's rights

  • Supporting Indigenous rights and Aboriginal land rights
  • Change the date
  • Indigenous recognition
  • The creation of an Indigenous art gallery
  • The need for an Aboriginal Treaty
  • The Voice referendum
  • Aboriginal health

Human rights and wellbeing

  • Decreasing child labour
  • Helping people be happy
  • Human rights and individual freedoms
  • Improving inclusion
  • Making the world a better place
  • The fight for human rights

Gender equality and LGBTQIA+ rights

  • Removing gender stereotypes in big brands.
  • Increasing gender equality and gender equality in sport
  • LGBTQIA+ inclusivity and non-binary peoples’ rights
  • Reducing gender discrimination
  • Addressing the gender pay gap
  • Combating violence against women
  • Acknowledging significant historical female figures
  • Free feminine hygiene products in public bathrooms
  • Improving women’s rights
  • Minimising the gender pay gap in medical research

Racism and discrimination

  • Addressing racism and unconscious racism
  • Combating racial discrimination
  • The impact of racism and racial stereotypes
  • Hijabs should not be banned
  • Racial abuse within the AFL
  • Racism in the City of Casey
  • Racism in younger generations
  • The Hazara Genocide

Support for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants

  • Australia's role in the refugee crisis
  • Equality, aid and support for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants
  • Inequality in immigration detention
  • Improving immigration to Australia
  • Improving refugee and asylum seeker rights
  • Living conditions in detention centres
  • The wellbeing of Australian immigrants

Rights for people with disabilities

  • Creating more all-abilities playgrounds
  • Improving accessibility for the disabled, including accessible travel
  • Disability discrimination
  • Disabled people’s rights in the workplace
  • Making our communities accessible for everyone

Youth and voting rights

  • Australia's democratic system
  • Youth hope in the Voice
  • Youth engagement in politics, voice and representation in decision-making
  • Lowering the voting age


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Infrastructure and transport - 83 entries

Facilities and amenities

  • Free Wi-Fi in public areas
  • Improving public facilities and restrooms
  • Increasing the number of public toilets
  • Increase the parking options in schools
  • Better infrastructure in Melbourne's outer suburbs
  • More libraries and youth facilities in local areas
  • Sustainable materials for building projects
  • The creation of jetties for coastal towns
  • Using Indigenous street names
  • Better accessibility amenities for people with disabilities

Hospitals, health care amenities & housing

  • Increasing the number of hospitals
  • Hospital for Gisborne & Lakes Entrance
  • Better hospitals in Victoria
  • Improving the Bairnsdale hospital
  • Increasing the number of homeless shelters, including in rural communities
  • Melbourne's lack of affordable homes
  • Stop building apartments

Roads, bike paths & pedestrian crossings

  • Creating a sustainable cycling future in Melbourne
  • Increasing and improving bike lanes & bike safety
  • Improving the state of the roads
  • Fixing potholes
  • Constructing new roads & infrastructure for new roads
  • Increasing safety on the way to school
  • Providing safer roads
  • Solving and reducing traffic issues
  • Safer traffic lights, such as Increasing the amount of time to cross at the lights


  • Improving public transport with better bus routes and better train connections, such as the inner-circle line and extending the suburban rail loop
  • Better school transport such as better buses and increasing the number of buses
  • Disadvantages in public transport
  • High speed rail to Wodonga
  • Improving public transport, especially in rural areas such as in Gippsland
  • Replacement bus stops
  • Resume key rail infrastructure
  • Cost effectiveness airport link with Tram Route 59
  • Increasing electric car use & self-driving cars
  • The dangers of e-bikes
  • Family friendly bike paths

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Local issues - 34 entries

Creating community

  • Improving pet ownership
  • Teenage entertainment

Facilities and amenities

  • A fishing lake for Park Orchards
  • Better playgrounds
  • Children and technology
  • Improving beach safety
  • Improving dog accessibility
  • Building a dog park in Nhill
  • Improving equestrian road safety
  • Improving our food supply
  • Increasing lifeguards
  • Improving infrastructure on Bullock Island
  • Improving lighting in Ashwood
  • Increasing recreational activities in Benalla & Wonthaggi
  • Removing power lines in Park Orchards
  • More infrastructure for Riddles Creek

Local environment & community

  • 2021 Floods
  • Safety of local children
  • Make Melbourne liveable
  • Save Cape Paterson from over development
  • Stop littering and trolley dumping
  • The need to replant vegetation

Traffic, roads and footpaths

  • Alleviating local traffic issues and congestion
  • Dangerous traffic around schools
  • Improving road safety
  • Keep the Latrobe St. crossing open
  • Potholes in Aston
  • Creating more footpaths in Warrigal

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Sports - 35 entries

Access to sports

  • Free swimming lessons
  • Free team sports for kids

Equality in sports

  • Equality between sports
  • Gender diversity and equality in sport
  • Reducing sexism in sport
  • The gender pay gap in sports
  • Women in sport
  • Changing the AFLW rules


  • Increasing government funding for non-profit sporting organisations
  • Increasing support for cheerleaders
  • More funding for sport
  • Providing better sports equipment
  • Funding for women's sport

Sport participation

  • Increased visibility for gymnastics
  • Increasing mixed sports teams
  • Increasing participation in sports, such as winter sports
  • Increasing physical education in schools

Sporting facilities

  • Improving local sporting and recreational facilities
  • Improving rural sports facilities, such as Lakes Entrance
  • The upgrade of female facilities in community football

Sports and safety

  • Swimming safety and education
  • Seriousness and impact of head injuries and concussions in sport

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World issues - 10 entries

  • Australia's role in providing foreign aid
  • Global peace
  • Human trafficking
  • Making corporal punishment illegal
  • Migration to Australia
  • Reducing world hunger and poverty
  • Supporting refugees and migration
  • Visas for international student

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