Minister for Youth Affairs Ryan Smith declared the 26th YMCA Youth Parliament officially open today at Parliament House in Victoria.
120 young people will take over Victoria's Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council over the next four days to debate their ideas for a better future for young Victorians.
Mr Smith said he was impressed with the preparation for this year's Youth Parliament and was looking forward to the debate.
"I have met with the Youth Governor Veronika Drago to receive updates on what's happening with Youth Parliament over the past few months and have been impressed with the diversity and preparation of this year's session," Mr Smith said.
"It is fantastic that Youth Parliament is looking at new ways to include more young people from different backgrounds with the inclusion of teams from the National Indigenous Youth Parliament, the Melbourne Youth Group and Scouts Victoria.
"The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to supporting this outstanding program and we have increased funding to Youth Parliament to $75,000 per annum to enable greater participation of rural and regional young people.
"Since becoming a Member of Parliament, I have been impressed by Youth Parliamentarians' belief in the power of democracy and their ability to stand up for what they believe in.
"It is reassuring to know that we have such outstanding young people who will be the future leaders of our great state," Mr Smith said.
Bills to be debated this year include mental health training, recycling and the environment, traffic congestion, youth development programs, participation in local government decision-making and multiculturalism.
2012 Youth Governor Veronika Drago said Youth Parliament demonstrates that young Victorians are passionate about sharing their views and are engaged with real issues.
"For 25 years, Youth Parliament has demonstrated that age is not a pre-requisite for political engagement and 120 young people are here debating real issues and making an impact," Ms Drago said.
For more information on Youth Parliament 2012 please visit: http://www.victoria.ymca.org.au