Tag Archives: Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School

41. Emilia and Sophie Eagling-Every

6 Aug

sophie and emiliaIn this day and age, headlines of famous sisterly catfights and other family feuds have become so common that it is difficult to imagine a relationship in which this may not occur! But for the Eagling-Every sisters, their relationship could not be more unlike to this…

Emelia and Sophie are 15 and 14 years old respectively. Throughout their years, each has contributed significantly to her local and school communities. What remains particularly admirable, however, is not simply their individual voluntary services, but also how they have encouraged and inspired each other and their peers along the way.

As accomplished musicians, both girls have volunteered their time to perform for the residents of various aged-care facilities across Banyule. In fact, a time when they performed for a lady at the Austin Repatriation Hospital has been one of their most memorable and satisfying volunteering encounters thus far. Whilst this particular lady did not offer them a recording contract with Sony, she did show the girls her sheer gratitude and love for their work. Nevertheless, the girls understand that the elderly can become invisible if the youth do not reach out to them, which is why they feel their work is so important.

Getting up at 6am once a week to deliver newspapers at the hospital has been another enjoyable experience of theirs and it is proof that volunteering does open up a number of doors, particularly for young people. One morning, Emelia delivered a newspaper to a pair of Vietnam War veterans and has since become great friends with them. Talking to these two men on a weekly basis has sparked her interest in Australian wartime history, so much so that she applied to be one of the few Australians travelling to Gallipoli for the centenary of ANZAC Day commemorations.

The girls also worked collectively with their mother Meredith, a teacher at their school, to launch a knitting program which makes blankets for those without adequate heating. Through leading and coordinating such activities, they have developed a consciousness amongst their peers that there are people living a mere kilometre or two away without heating, something often taken for granted.

Their service activities at school have been formally recognised by both their peers and teachers. The girls have each received various awards for their efforts and have been elected as service representatives for their year levels. This role has allowed them to foster a lifelong mentality within their peers that they are so lucky to have the things that they do and consequently it is important to give back to those less fortunate.

In May this year, Emelia won one of Banyule’s Young Volunteer Awards and Sophie could not be more joyed.

“I’m always really proud of her… and I can say to my friends that’s my sister”.

But with her own outstanding volunteering efforts and her ability to “encourage everyone else”, it is likely that she too may be successful in obtaining similar accolades and Emelia will be there supporting her in every step of the way.

Words: Annalisa Cercone

Photo: Sean Porter

38. Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School Youth Parliament Team 2013

12 Jun

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“We’re going to be the leaders of the world,” Rachel Mao, 18, exclaims. The audacity and courage of Rachel’s statement goes unnoticed by her and those around her. This is how they think. They are unapologetic, self assured and excited to be part of Generation Y, the future leaders of Australia. It can be breathtaking for older generations!

Before me, Rachel is joined by Crystal Wong, Gloria Deng and Mihika Hegde. They are all from the Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar team for Youth Parliament 2013. While the ministers of Victoria are absent for a week in July, 120 young people take over the chambers of Parliament and debate bills they have designed around issues important to them.

Hand-picked from a pool of year 11 applicants, the members of this team are as diverse as they are united. They agree everyone in the team “has a range of qualities, interests and skills, so as a team worked really well together” – and work they did. For six months they brainstormed and researched their chosen issue to craft the perfect bill, one that has an admirable and impressive balance between idealism and pragmatism.

Gloria says they wanted a bill that was “practical and captured what we were passionate about as a team … we thought about what needed the most change in Australia.” They decided on a bill titled “The Abolishment of Factory Farming” because the team was “really passionate about animal rights”. Factory farming is an industry where livestock is raised in highly confined spaces to produce high output at low cost, something that has become increasingly concerning for young people in particular as it raises many ethical issues. Their bill boldly stated that it’s aim was “to completely phase out factory farming by 2030”. The bill is highly ambitious even when compared to other Youth Parliament bills but the girls were determined to create a bill that was willing to make the necessary scarifies to create an Australia that is responsible, ethical and sustainable in the treatment towards livestock.

Speaking with wisdom beyond her years, Mihika explains why reducing cruelty towards animals is important: “Even though it’s such a new issue that’s only just come out into mainstream society, it’s been going on a long, long time. So there’s a shock factor to it, which is why it’s so important that we take that shock and turn it into actions.”

Truly the definition of striking while the iron is hot, the girls took their ambitious bill into Parliament House to be debated. Reflecting reality, not all bills debated are passed in the world of Youth Parliament. Their peers vote on a bill after a few rounds of healthy debate. The girls explain that friendship doesn’t come into play; their peers will decide if a bill should pass based purely on its merit. Crystal says firmly: “Everyone is serious about it. We actually think about whether a bill would change society for the better.”

Considering successful bills are passed onto the real-life relevant minister for consideration, with many influencing real laws, there was a lot of hard work and emotion at stake when the Ivanhoe team presented its bill for debate. Rachel reminisces about the moment their bill passed: “It was really exciting because we worked really hard to put our bill together. Having it debated and having support from everyone was really great.”

Inspired and empowered by the success of the bill and their time on Youth Parliament, the Ivanhoe girls explain how their lives have changed and been influenced. Gloria excitedly explains that they’re not usually in an environment with lots of different young people who want to create change. “It was really empowering,” she says. “At school, I didn’t really have anything, then I went to Youth Parliament and learned that I could have my passion!”

Crystal’s experience was rather personal: “I never used to debate or do public speaking. Going to Youth Parliament I proved to myself that it’s not that bad to speak out.”

It’s clear to me that Youth Parliament itself has been enriched and honored by the presence of these young women, powerhouses of change. As we close our interview, I challenge them by asking: “Why does youth engagement matter?” There is no doubt the cliché of the apathy and disengagement among young people runs rampant in society – what do the Ivanhoe girls think of this? Not much, apparently. They discovered that Australia is full of young people who want to make a change and are prepared to shoulder the problems they will inherit. Rachel implores young people to recognise that they” have the power to do something and to make a change”.

Mihika, with a determined glint in her eye, leaves me with words that once again astound me and remind me that the young women before me are forces to be reckoned with, now and in the future: “It sounds clichéd but we are the future of Australia. The problems we have today are the ones that will be solved by us in the very near future.”

Words: Amy Bryans

Photo: Sean Porter