2023 Geoff Brooks Scholar, Jacob Osenaris (Year 11), recently won a Parliament Prize for his recorded 90-second response to the question ‘What would you say to parliament if you were an MP?’.
Throughout the year, Jacob has participated in many parliament programs and projects, recently completing the Y (formally known as the YMCA) Youth Parliament Program during the school holidays. He has also worked with Infrastructure Victoria in developing their 30-year infrastructure plan as well as with the Attorney General in making amendments to the Privacy Act.
“What motivated me to get involved with the Y Youth Parliament Program was the ability to use my voice to accelerate change and enhance the visibility of issues faced by young people,” said Jacob. “It was also a way for me to build valuable connections with different MPs while they chaired our debates.”
During 5 months of preparation, Jacob attended camps in Bacchus Marsh, developed a topic and drafted and edited his speech. The result – a bill, titled the Rental and Tenancies Regulation Reform Act 2023 (Vic), outlining minimum standards for rental properties which, Jacob believes are higher than those currently set by the Rental Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic). Jacob’s bill was passed by legislative council.
Jacob is also a City of Ballarat Youth Ambassador and member of the Youth Sub-Committee, a state-wide youth board which provides opportunities for young people to collaborate directly with the Board of Directors at Y Victoria.
“What I have found most rewarding about my time as a City of Ballarat Youth Ambassador is the opportunity to collaborate with community stakeholders to deliver youth-based services,” said Jacob. “We recently completed a cyber bullying campaign alongside Dolly’s Dream and are distributing packs with posters and resources for young people to access.”
Jacob is most passionate about youth mental health. His determination and passion for providing services for young people saw him place third in Victoria for his speech about youth mental health and suicide.
“Mental health is often something young people don’t speak about,” said Jacob. “It may be something they’re struggling with or have never experienced, so they don’t wish to advocate for something that is foreign to them. I am working with members of parliament to develop initiatives to improve access to youth mental health services and continue to push for funding from the state government.”
Jacob moved to Clarendon in 2023 after receiving the Geoff Brooks Scholarship. The scholarship, named in honour of Old Collegian, Geoff Brooks (1982), is gifted to a student who is passionate about their community and making positive change.
“The Geoff Brooks Scholarship allowed me to access a quality education that I would not have had access to,” said Jacob. “Geoff Brooks’ story has inspired me to do and be involved in as much as I can to make a difference for those who need it most, just like Geoff did.”
Looking toward his graduation, Jacob hopes to study a double degree in Law and Politics and Philosophy and Economics at Monash University, where he is currently a Monash Scholar. Describing himself as opinionated and outspoken, he says this pathway is suited to his personality, as he is passionate about speaking up about issues that affect young people.
Clarendon is proud of its students who continue to put their communities front of mind, whether that be their school community, their local community, or the community they deem needs their help. We look forward to following Jacob’s journey and others’ as they become leaders of the next generation.