Throsby federal election candidates went back to school yesterday to speak to students at Dapto High.
As part of the school's Nurturing Democracy program, which encourages students to get informed about Australia's democratic process, all 11 candidates were invited to speak with the students. Seven candidates appeared in person, two sent video messages and two did not attend.
Principal Andrew FitzSimons said the forum was a good chance for students not yet of voting age to start engaging with the political process.
"Democracy is precious. We want to model in school respectful engagement with different ideas and there are lots of kids who don't know very much about it," he said.
Candidates had two minutes each to address the room before taking questions from the students. While the event was primarily for those in years 11 and 12, any student with an interest in leadership was allowed to attend.
Gay marriage, refugees, the environment and the reasoning behind each candidate's stance were hot topics.
Vice-captain Bradley Chapman chaired the event and thought it was good politicians were interested in talking to the next generation of voters.
School captain Jake Ramirez agreed.
"We don't always have the opportunity to get engaged and having these sort of forums allows our own issues to be put out there and we are able to get answers and feedback right away," he said.
"We were able to understand each person's own beliefs. Instead of hearing it on the news or from other people, we were able to get it straight from them."
The candidates were impressed by the calibre of the students' questions and the genuine interest they showed in learning about government.
Greens candidate Peter Moran said he was especially impressed with their ability to separate the person from the policy.
"The students seem to make a very mature definition between personality and policy and that encourages me to think we do have a proper future for democratic policy in this country."