The opportunity to speak to the submission allowed me to ensure that the voices of young people were heard, particularly around issues like zero hour contracts.
Voices are what are important here. While I assumed the Committee hadn’t read my submission and I read out large parts of it, it was the stories and experience of PSAY members that I used to make sure the content was taken seriously and remembered. Arguing policy can be too easily ignored while sharing the experience, and often the struggle, of young people in the workplace is difficult to forget.
Making an oral submission is an empowering experience and the importance of taking the time and opportunity to make one can’t be underestimated. Thankfully New Zealand’s Members of Parliament aren’t at all intimidating, so speaking to them, challenging them on what they were seeking to do wasn’t nearly as fraught as I thought it would be.
Even if it was, and despite some strange questions I was posed, I knew I had allies. Allies at the table from the opposition, allies in the room from the PSA, and allies from the Youth Network, whose stories I was given to share in my submission. I cannot recommend enough to others, taking the time to make an oral submission next time the opportunity presents itself.