Brenton’s passion for rural education takes him to parliament

A long term goal has come to fruition for a young Parkes man who is passionate about a lot of things, in particular rural education. 

Brenton Hawken has accepted an offer to participate in the 2017 Indigenous Youth Parliament (NIYP) next month and he can’t wipe the smile off his face. The NYIP runs every two years and Brenton said this was always going to be his year. 

“The first one ran in 2012 and I was in year 11 so I wasn’t quite ready for it,” he said.

“The next one ran in 2014 but I talked myself out of it because I had just started uni and I thought ‘I wouldn’t be any good for that’.

“It didn’t run in 2016 because of the election, so 2017 was going to be my year. I’ve been building my skills and experience for this for the last six years.”

The 22-year-old is in his third year of studying a Bachelor of Education (Technology and Applied Studies) at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.

His goal is to become a school principal, but his ambitions don’t stop there – ultimately he wants to be the Minister for Education. 

Brenton is one of 50 participants from around Australia who will attend the week-long residential program in Canberra from May 23 to 29.

They will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with Members of Parliament, media and other dignitaries, attend leadership workshops and network with other young like-minded indigenous leaders.

“We all come together to represent our states and debate bills and matters of importance to our local communities,” he said.

“We speak on something we are passionate about and we will be given topics to debate.

The centrepiece is a two-day simulated parliament at Old Parliament House. The final bills will be presented to the Australian Government for consideration.  

Brenton said he is looking forward to learning about Australia's democracy, finding out how parliament is run and meeting the politicians. 

“I love Julie Bishop, so I am lining her up,” he said.

The group will also have the privilege of dining with the Prime Minister and the Governor General.