Year 11 Student, Luther College, VIC

On Tuesday afternoon I left Melbourne airport with three other Victorian students, ready to go to Canberra and participate in the 'Every Voice Counts Forum'. Our theme for the week was 'Being a Responsible Citizen - what it means to me' and, although I may have known the theme, I certainly had little knowledge of what the week would bring.

Looking back on the week now, I can say that it was an absolutely amazing week. Not only did I have lots of fun, I was also given the chance to gain a behind-the-scenes insight into the workings of Parliament and our Government, an opportunity I would otherwise never have been able to have. The trip was especially beneficial, because I study politics at a Year 12 level at school, and it was so interesting to actually see all the mechanisms of Parliament and our Government at work, which I normally would have only ever been able to read about.

A highlight of the week for me was definitely seeing Question Time. Our group was especially lucky, as when we saw Question Time, things in the House of Representatives were getting quite heated. One member was asked to leave the House of Representatives, and others were given considerable warnings for their rowdy behaviour.

Another highlight of the trip was seeing Samantha Maiden, a political reporter for the Australian. Samantha offered considerable insight into a journalist's career and explained to us in more detail the issue brought up in Question Time the day before.

Another wonderful experience was seeing the Hon Julie Bishop MP, the then Minister for Education, Science, and Training, and I was thrilled to receive a certificate of participation from former Minister Bishop and have a short talk with her. Our group was also extremely privileged to quickly meet the then Attorney-General, the Hon Philip Ruddock MP, and we even managed to get a quick photo with him! I was also very grateful to meet my local member, the Hon Mr Chris Pearce, MP. We also had the chance to meet many other people who worked inside Parliament, and they each were able to give us incredible insight into the running of our democracy.

The workload of the trip was quite big, with each day including an early start (breakfast by 7.00) and a late end (being dismissed around 8.30-9.30), yet I believe that this was necessary in order to make the most of our trip. The days were indeed action-packed, with our trip also including a visit to the National Archives and Old Parliament House. I took so much away from the trip including: a broadened knowledge about our democracy, considerable insight into the Parliamentary system, many wonderful memories and a new group of friends.

I would like to extend a big thanks to the organisers of the trip for their efforts and encourage all students who would be eligible to apply for this trip to do so, regardless of how much you know about politics.