Talking to decision makers - Kate Scodellaro

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Over morning tea Kate Scodellaro, 17 years old, met Governor of Victoria Professor David de Kretser, CEO of the YMCA Peter Burns and the Sergeant of arms Anne Sergeant. Kate was representing the 120 students involved in Youth Parliament. Although Kate had butterflies and was afraid she would say the wrong thing, she was able to stay cool, calm and collected while talking to the assembly of high profile decision makers who supported the program she was involved in.

While talking to the Governor of Victoria is not something Kate does regularly she does have some tips to help people gain the confidence to speak to people in power.

Tips when talking to politicians

  • Be well researched, you need to know: both sides of the topic you are presenting and what point of view the person your approaching is coming from

  • Formally present the topic as a proposed bill which is a statute in draft before it becomes law

  • Start your spiel with what needs to be fixed, how the bill will address it and the clauses

  • Be comfortable presenting your argument

  • Slip in statistics now and then

  • Be open to criticism and don’t get defensive; parliament is all about working towards making the bill the best it can be

  • Be open minded and prepared to listen to opposing views when speaking

  • Get straight to the point and keep it simple

  • Always be polite
  • Go prepared - for example, do a survey in your community to show that th representing the community and just not your own opinion because, that’s their role in the electorate

Kate believes that anyone can meet with a decision maker as long as they’re confident and have done their research. But above all she thinks it’s important to be passionate about the issue you’re speaking about. ‘If you don’t feel that strongly about it, you’re not going to present your issue strongly. To make a difference you really need to feel passionate,’ Kate said.

At 17, Kate is set in making a difference somehow even if it’s only in a small way and wants to contribute to the community. After meeting the Governor of Victoria, the CEO of YMCA and hearing World Vision CEO Tim Costello speak, Kate doesn’t quite feel like she can take over the world just yet but, she definitely feels more confident in herself and her ability to create change in the community.

As for beating those butterflies Kate had when she first met the Governor, she suggests you should go over your notes and if you know a lot about what you’re talking about you can fall back on statistics when you start to stutter.