The Hon. PAUL GREEN [7.01 p.m.]: I speak tonight on behalf of the Christian Democratic Party about an active solution that is helping young people to deal with the challenges they are faced with today. Victor Hugo wrote, “He who opens a school door closes a prison”. Many of our young people today are searching for identity and feel imprisoned amidst issues of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, hopelessness and the pressure of living in a fast-paced electronic age. It therefore comes as no surprise that one in four young Australians have a mental health condition and suicide is known to be the biggest killer of our young people aged 15 to 24.
What are we doing as a nation to address these growing problems? Why are we not teaching our young people to have a greater understanding of their identity, intrinsic worth, strengths and purpose? We must equip our youth with tools that establish them on a firm foundation and release them into adulthood with a deep understanding of their worth and the realisation that they can be a powerful agent of change in their community, their nation and the world. The SHINE program is a solutions-focused personal development tool which has had a significant impact on youth in Australia. I will read some testimonies:
Shine has helped me cope with the loss of my best friend when I wasn’t able to cope before.
You made me feel that I am worth something.
I have learnt that I am unique, one of a kind and priceless. I belong to this world as myself, who I am and what I will become. The SHINE program has made a huge improvement in my life.
Shine has helped my friends through some hard times recently.
Since 1997 the SHINE program has been used in Australian schools for students in years 6 to 9. The program has five curriculums, including ShineGirl and Strength for boys. It has been successfully utilised in hundreds of organisations, including schools, community centres, refuges, religious groups and correctional facilities, in 41 nations. The SHINE program transcends cross-cultural barriers and is relevant irrespective of race, religion or socio-economic background. The learning outcomes of SHINE are that young people will identify themselves as valuable and having much to contribute to today’s society. The program strengthens decision-making and problem-solving skills and aims to build increased confidence, the ability to identify personal strengths and to set and achieve personal goals.
Empirical research completed by Nandila Spry and Teresa Marchant in 2014 on ShineWomen has demonstrated that women experienced an increase in self-esteem, emotional intelligence and a sense of purpose. Women were mobilised to help others by up to 12 per cent. This has been recognised as significant in academic research and aligns with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals No. 3 to promote gender equality and empower women. The New South Wales Institute of Group Leaders has also endorsed the SHINE curricula and noted their contribution towards group work learning.
As members of Parliament and as lawmakers of this nation representing communities with growing youth populations, we understand the importance of education in equipping our young people to make a meaningful contribution to society. These SHINE curriculums can act as a tool in the hands of our educators to keep young people connected to school and to enable them to build the confidence and strength they need to embrace different pathways, to rise to new challenges and to take healthy risks. Equipping individuals with the tools they need to make destiny-defining choices can bring lifelong change that will impact generations. The right intervention at the right time can create powerful transformation and the kind of change that carves out new life directions. Imagine a future where our young people are equipped as healthy, thriving, successful members of this great nation. This is not a time to rest but a time for action, a time to shine. The Christian Democratic Party commends the SHINE program to the House.