By Sean Malloy
and Bo Daley
CANBERRA — A delegation of Resistance members and Young Christian Workers presented a youth bill of rights to Prime Minister Paul Keating's office on July 22, the day of the youth jobs summit.
The youth bill of rights, initiated by Resistance, was endorsed by a rally held as part of an alternative youth jobs summit on the front lawns of Parliament House. Young people from Canberra, Sydney and Wollongong attended the alternative summit.
Real jobs for real wages were a major concern. "Right now there's just nothing to go back to", said one young person. "Even with studying, you finish and there's just nothing to go on to."
Another young person spoke about the proposed training wages of $3.10 an hour. "Everyone wants to work, but the wages they've come up with are just ludicrous. There's no incentive to work at all."
Steve Ellis from the Sydney Unemployed Workers' Union said that there was no real difference between the proposals from Labor and from the Liberals. "It's eventually going to be the same thing: cut off the dole, make the unemployed work for the dole."
The youth bill of rights aims to address these and other concerns of young people, said Resistance spokesperson James Basle.
"Young people should have a right to work, to decent education, to a decent standard of living and the right to live free of discrimination and prejudice. These issues are taken up in the youth bill of rights."
As delegates arrived to attend the summit Resistance members attempted to hand them copies of the bill of rights, while Parliament House security guards tried to prevent them.
Resistance launched the youth bill of rights at a press conference in Canberra on July 21. The document was drafted after consultations with youth groups and other young people and discussed at the Resistance national conference earlier this month.
The conference decided to launch the bill of rights at the time of the summit to counter the contempt shown towards young people by the ALP government.
"Now that we've launched the bill, we will be looking to hold further public meetings and organising further actions around it and the issues it raises", said Basle.
The bill of rights was used in most major capital cities as a focus for rallies, soup kitchens and demonstrations on the day of the
"Young people are facing a crisis. They can't get jobs, they are on incomes below the poverty line and those who are enrolled in some sort of education don't have jobs to look forward to", said Resistance assistant national coordinator, Jorge Jorquera.
"The youth bill of rights is a real alternative to ALP and Liberal policies. It's drafted by young people, for young people. It's not drafted in the interests of the McDonald's or Pizza Huts of this world as the ALP and Liberals policies are", he concluded.