The bill, titled Re-Categorising Dyslexia as a Disability in Victorian Schools Bill 2017, was debated in the Youth Parliament in July.
While dyslexia is considered a disability under Federal law, the team wants to see dedicated funding introduced in Victoria for students with dyslexia.
“[The bill] will guarantee that students are getting help with their learning,” team member Jessica McDowell said during the debate.
According to the Australian Dyslexia Association, around 10 per cent of Australians have the disability. The Belgrave students were inspired by some of their classmates who have dyslexia.
“A lot of people from our school actually have dyslexia and were complaining to us that they weren't provided with enough support at all, when it comes to exam time and even just in general learning. So we really wanted to change that,” team member Chloe Van Der Schoot said following the debate.
Some students opposing the bill in Youth Parliament were concerned about focusing on one select group of students.
This is a concern shared by the Australian Dyslexia Association (ADA).
“Dyslexia can affect children at varying degrees from mild to severe. ADA believes that all children need to have access to quality teaching and learning in the areas of literacy,” President of the ADA Jodi Clements said.
“There are many children who have dyslexia and many who do not who struggle with literacy in Australian schools. Research indicates that the main reason is ineffective teacher training in reading and literacy.”
However, the team from Mater Christi College are adamant their bill can have a positive effect for many Victorian students.
Team member Chloe Van Der Schoot said during the debate that their bill would release “the overwhelming tension of students learning differently and level the playing field for all students”.
Their bill successfully passed through the Youth Parliament and will now be considered by the State Government.
Mater Christi College’s bill was the last to be debated in the 2017 Youth Parliament. It was the 31st edition of the YMCA-led event, and the girls from Belgrave were thankful for the opportunity.
“It's been really good meeting lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds and getting an insight into what other people want as well. There are heaps of people from heaps of different backgrounds that usually we wouldn't get the chance to meet,” McDowell said.
The program provides a voice to young people and a chance for them to express their concerns on the big stage.
“Youth Parliament is a good way for young people to express their voice,”Georgia Taylor from Mater Christi said.
“They have a better insight on what issues affect them, how they feel about it and what they're passionate about.”