Think teenagers don't care about politics? These six will prove you wrong

They're young, ambitious, and not afraid to tackle the questions that have stumped politicians 20 years their senior.

Nearly 120 Canberrans aged 12 to 25 took over the ACT parliament on Friday as part of a Youth Assembly, an exercise in deliberative democracy designed to get young people involved in policymaking.

The ACT Youth Assembly in action on Friday. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The ACT Youth Assembly in action on Friday. Photo: Jamila Toderas

They were tasked with coming up with recommendations on government policy in four areas: civic participation, youth mental health, youth homelessness and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Minister for Children, Youth and Families Rachel Stephen-Smith said the purpose of the exercise was to give young people a voice in a place most of them feel cut off from.

"There’s a real discussion about young people not engaging in politics. Young people don't necessarily want to engage in politics in a traditional way," Ms Stephen-Smith said.

"They might not join a political party, they might not write a letter to the editor or come along to a meeting but that doesn’t mean they don't care about issues.

"The way politics is conducted is pretty alienating for a lot of people including young people but what I see as I go around talking to young people in the community is that they are passionate about issues, they are passionate about the future, whether that's environment or homelessness or equality more generally and particularly issues around youth mental health.

"This is really about finding one way, one forum for them to have a genuine say about those issues."

Should the smoking age be lifted to 21?

Seventeen-year-old Rohan Rodrigues Macias says it's not the state's job to interfere in the lives of adults. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Seventeen-year-old Rohan Rodrigues Macias says it's not the state's job to interfere in the lives of adults. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Should we lower the voting age to 16?

Seventeen-year-old Clara McArthur says she's learnt a lot about the world in the last year and would like to have her say by voting. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Seventeen-year-old Clara McArthur says she's learnt a lot about the world in the last year and would like to have her say by voting. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Should we provide more budget funding for youth mental health services?

Twenty-five-year-old Al Azmi says we can and should do more for young people struggling with their mental health. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Twenty-five-year-old Al Azmi says we can and should do more for young people struggling with their mental health. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Should cannabis be legalised for personal use?

Fifteen-year-old Kari Gilbert says the issues around the legalisation of cannabis are complex. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Fifteen-year-old Kari Gilbert says the issues around the legalisation of cannabis are complex. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Should NAPLAN be dumped?

Thirteen-year-old Oliver Russell says NAPLAN only measures a student on one day. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Thirteen-year-old Oliver Russell says NAPLAN only measures a student on one day. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Should Canberra's college system be axed?

Sixteen-year-old Selina Li says Canberra's college system allows teenagers to slowly become adults.  Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Sixteen-year-old Selina Li says Canberra's college system allows teenagers to slowly become adults. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

"I believe the college system works. It gives students a lot more grounding to make their own decisions and to slowly implement themselves into independent learning." - Selina Li, 16, Narrabundah College