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Students across the country held protest rallies against the federal government’s proposed cuts to higher education on August 20.

The cuts were announced by former prime minister Julia Gillard, but have been supported by PM Kevin Rudd, his new education minister Kim Carr and the Liberal opposition. With bipartisan support, these cuts will not be defeated without a fightback.

It is often said young people do not care about politics. A survey by the Australia Institute in July found that more than one million young Australians under 25 feel that no political party represents them. On top of that, 45% of respondents also said they were “disinterested” or “not really interested” in the upcoming federal election.

It is not hard to imagine why young people might be switching off when neither of the two big parties is dealing with the issues young people are most concerned about.

It's election season once again. For the first time in three years, the government is allocating us all our piece of democracy. People in suits are frantically talking about the issues of the day, in the hope that they can win over enough of us to put them into parliament.

Two of the defining issues in this battle are refugees and education. In both cases, candidates line up one after the other to show they are able to make the tough decisions.

The National Union of Students (NUS) education conference was held at the University of Adelaide from July 10-12.

This year’s conference occurred in the context of the most serious attack on university funding in many years. In April, the federal government announced it was cutting $2.8 billion from higher education.

Students responded to these proposed cuts by holding protests in cities across the country on May 14, the biggest student protests in years.

Reading the polls makes it clear that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a hit. Overnight, Rudd's return has turned the tables for Labor. From staring down electoral annihilation, Labor is now on par with Liberal leader Tony Abbott. The election is a contest once again.

“Kevin07” was a popular campaign that gained mainstream traction among Australia’s youth in the 2007 federal elections. Even though “Kevin13” lacks the same ring, his return has marked clear moves by Rudd to regain his attraction to young voters.

High school has always been turbulent at best, but never before was I confronted with institutionalised oppression in the way that I was when it came to Year 9 sex education.

Year 9 is the final year in my school where all students have access to sex education regardless of their subject choice, after this a student has to choose a physical education (PE) subject to learn more about it.

Like most sectors of society, the education system in Australia is under attack. For decades, education has been underfunded, so when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that she intended to fund the Gonski reforms, many people were temporarily relieved.

Then she said that, to pay for primary and high school education reforms, the government would cut funding to universities. Private schools won’t lose funding and, in some cases, will get more. Yet the ailing TAFE system would get nothing.

So much for an education revolution.

Liah Lazarou, 28, is standing as a youth candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the South Australian seat of Adelaide, currently held by Labor MP Kate Ellis.

She was interviewed by Resistance member Liam Conlon about why she is standing in the election and what she is trying to achieve.

How did you get involved in political activism?

I grew up in a very working class background and was raised by a single father. He took me to my first rally, which was against Pauline Hanson in 1996. I was eleven years old.

Socialist activists are involved in political struggles across many different issues. From equal marriage rights to defending education, refugee rights to the environment, socialists help organise and lead these campaigns, and seek to win important political reforms around them.

It might seem contradictory for socialists to fight for reforms. Since socialists oppose capitalism and the capitalist state, why is it that they campaign for measures that encourage the expansion of the capitalist state?

The fight against homophobia is arguably the civil rights issue of our times. It is increasingly unacceptable that, in 2013, society continues to discriminate against people based on their sexuality.

This is most obviously demonstrated by the continued refusal to grant equal marriage rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI) people.

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