Year 11 Student, Casuarina Senior College, NT

From August 15-17, I participated in the Every Voice Counts! Forum, which considered the issue of 'Being a responsible citizen in Australia's democracy'. Even though I had to travel from Darwin to the freezing cold Canberra, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.

It was great to get the chance to be privy to a behind-the-scenes tour of the national Parliament; and the best experience of the forum was going to Question Time in the House of Representatives. I was amazed. It was such an eye-opening experience to see the leaders of this country doing their job in the democratic process, and to see one of the many accountability functions of the Parliament in action.

It was also great to have an opportunity to collaborate with people my age from all around the country, and to make our voices heard, by compiling a report on the theme 'being a responsible citizen', that would be given to the Hon Julie Bishop MP, the then Minister for Education, Science and Training.

From listening to speakers such as Adam Valvasori from World Vision, I learnt that participating in Australia's democracy, not just voting, is the most important thing. Living our democratic rights is one of the best ways that we can be a responsible citizen.

Also, Jonathan Nicholas from Inspire Foundation made the point that one person cannot make a difference; you need a group of active participators in Australia's democratic process to affect change. This was inspiring because both Adam and Jonathon believed that we can, as the younger generation, be more active in Australia's democracy than ever, because we have so many more avenues for active democratic participation to explore than previous generations had.