Emma Pritchard |
She possesses strong leadership qualities beyond her years, is extremely intelligent, incredibly passionate about her local community and the issues which affect it, and has her sights set on a future career in politics.
While Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis was happy to offer her a Nationals Party application form during their meeting last week, 13-year-old Mae Carroll smiled graciously and said her current focus is to “do something that will help people.”
Having recently participated in the virtual 2020 NSW Children’s Week Parliament with 90 other children in October, Miss Carroll demonstrated her selfless empathy and acute awareness when she researched and prepared a one-minute speech about mental health issues.
Describing herself as being “taken back” when she learned there are on average 20 suicides per 100,000 youths in the Clarence electorate, she felt it was a topic which needed to be spoken about to raise awareness on a national level.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Miss Carroll said of the figures.
“There is a stigma, a lot of people think kids and youths can’t be depressed or have mental health issues, but they can, and they do.
“Being involved with the Children’s Week Parliament, I was given a platform to take a stand for something I felt strongly about and I felt this was a subject which needed to be talked about.
“I’m just a 13-year-old girl, but I believe every voice needs to be heard and mental health issues and how we can help people who are affected by them need to be addressed.”
In her speech, Miss Carroll said “we have implemented our own strategies to inoculate kids against suicide in the Clarence electorate.”
Organisations like ‘headspace’, which have opened a centre in Grafton, are determined to fight this problem.
She also spoke about Grafton High School, which she currently attends, and said “with extra funds, an extra deputy principal and high-level training for teachers”, the local education campus is taking a big step towards a future without youth suicide.
“Our prime minister Scott Morrison promised to break the curse of youth suicide through a Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan and we are better protected than ever,” she said in her speech.
“But the battle will continue, particularly in these times of self-isolation.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but most importantly, don’t be afraid to give it.”
Miss Carroll said she was very excited to participate in the 2020 NSW Children’s Week Parliament which aims to highlight the powers of young people speaking on issues that are important to them.
Describing her as bright, very articulate and someone who has a lot of empathy for her community, Mr Gulaptis said Miss Carroll should be extremely proud of the speech she delivered and praised her for raising awareness of mental health in the Clarence electorate during their meeting.
“You’ve touched on the impact it has within our community, and you’ve got a positive mindset and I think you’ve got a great future ahead of you,” he told her.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing.”