Justin Pereira is passionate about giving young people a voice in the community. The Duncraig 2014 graduate has been instrumental in the growth of the YMCA WA Youth Parliament Program over the past five years and he wasn’t going to let the challenges this year presented get in the way of his generation being heard.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of is my involvement in the YMCA WA Youth Parliament Program, which is a national project that gives young people a chance to stand up in Parliament and have their voices heard,” Justin said.

“In WA, the program is an annual youth leadership forum for people aged 15-25 to represent and talk about issues that are important to them and the youth of the State.”

“Successful participants are allocated an Electorate and then work in Committees, such as Youth Interests, Environment, Transport and Housing, to write a Bill over the course of several months to address an issue they have identified. This culminates in a residential camp in July where Youth Members debate their Bills in Parliament House as well as get many opportunities to talk about issues they are passionate about.

“This program is a truly incredible platform for people to develop their public speaking, negotiation and leadership skills; as well as meet, befriend and be inspired by fellow like-minded young people.”

Justin recalls he first got involved in the program as a participant with another Duncraig alumni Taylor Watson and has worked his way up over the years to be a key member running the program.

“Despite the many challenges of 2020, we were determined to run the program because young people’s voices are always important and with many things being locked down, we thought it was important for young people to continue to meet new people and socialise with like-minded individuals… our camp this year was pushed back to the last week of September and while we aren’t able to debate in Parliament (this year we were in the WA Constitution Centre due to social distancing requirements) the program was a great success.”

Reflecting on his time at St Stephen’s School, Justin recalls sitting under the same tree outside the Library every recess and lunch for five years, along with the influence of his teachers, specifically naming Mrs Lhota and Mrs Judge (now Mrs Dillon), who encouraged him to pursue the topics he was passionate about. “[They} taught and prepared me to think critically and independently,” he said.

After graduation, Justin studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science and International Relations at UWA before adding a second major in Anthropology and Sociology. He also went on to study an Honours in Political Science and International Relations and a Masters in International Relations, which he completed this year.

While at uni, Justin worked part-time as an Electorate Officer for Sabine Winton MLA Member for Wanneroo and is now employed full time.

You’ll also often find him on the tennis court. The game is one of his favourite hobbies and he has played socially and in pennant competitions for more than a decade. He is currently Vice-Chairman and Club Captain at his local club – the love for tennis stemming from his Dad’s professional playing career in his younger years.

Justin still resides in Warwick where, true to his community focus, he founded the Warwick Residents Association, has served on the Board of Hawker Park Primary School and ran for Local Council in 2015.  

Find out more about the YMCA WA Youth Parliament Program at https://www.ymcawa.org.au/what-we-do/youth-services/western-australian-youth-parliament