Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability

Financial performance and future operations

Appendices

References

Output 3.1.1 - Electoral education centres

Updated: 22 December 2010

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The AEC provides electoral education sessions to improve knowledge and understanding of Australia's electoral system.

Overview

Visitors to the AEC's three electoral education centres (EECs), located in Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide, learnt about elections, the concept of democracy and the history of Australia's federal system of representative government.

Electoral educators delivered education sessions to schools and community groups to improve their knowledge and understanding of Australia's electoral system. Sessions offered an opportunity to participate in a simulated election or referendum and to learn about preferential and formal voting through hands-on experience.

Table 20 summarises the AEC's results against performance information set out for Output 3.1.1 in the 2008–09 Portfolio Budget Statements.

Table 20 Output 3.1.1 – Electoral education centres: performance results
Key performance indicators Targets Results
Annual number of visitors to EECs 100 000 The three EECs collectively received 105 189 visitors.
Number of EEC sessions delivered 3000 The three EECs collectively presented 3263 sessions.
Percentage and number of visitor surveys that assess increased understanding of:
  • democracy and Australia's federal system of representative government
  • preferential voting system
  • how to cast a formal vote
  • compulsory enrolment
Maintain or exceed results of previous years 94% of visitors surveyed indicated an increased level of understanding. Target achieved.

Performance

The overall success of the EECs continued to be reflected in a demand for their services in 2008–09. Feedback received from visitors and stakeholders confirmed that these services were well regarded.

AEC management continued to assess the effectiveness of EEC services using the performance measures developed for the period 2006–07 to 2008–09. Progress against these measures was assisted by the implementation of the new evaluation survey during the reporting period. Of those visitors surveyed, 94 percent indicated their understanding of electoral processes and responsibilities had increased or their existing knowledge was reinforced. Visiting teachers who were surveyed indicated 99 per cent of EEC sessions met curriculum requirements.

While indicators relating to an increase in visitor numbers showed that overall total visitor numbers were only slightly higher than those recorded in 2007–08, the National EEC in Canberra had a strong 6 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared with the previous year. Visitor numbers for the Melbourne and Adelaide EECs fell by 10 percent and 17 percent respectively. Historically, visitor numbers peak in an election year: as 2007–08 was an election year, to some extent, the 2008–09 decrease in Melbourne and Adelaide EEC visitor numbers was not unexpected. Also, the announcement of the 30 June 2009 closure of these two centres impacted on visitor numbers over the May–June 2009 period.

Improvements

In 2008–09, the AEC implemented various strategies to improve the centres' performance. These included:

  • implementing a business plan for each EEC, setting out the centre's priorities and detailed strategies to achieve them
  • holding two national EEC conferences to bring together all centre staff to share knowledge, improve programs, network, and discuss business priorities and future directions
  • conducting an audit of IT hardware and software resources and support arrangements, and assessing how best to update IT facilities to ensure that an effective service is provided.

The AEC continued to progress the implementation of the electronic booking system which will enable people to book EEC education sessions through the internet.

Visitors

A total of 105 189 people visited the EECs in 2008–09, a slight increase on the total of 104 054 visitors in 2007–08.

Visitors came from most federal electoral divisions. The National EEC in Canberra provided services to people from 146 of Australia's 150 electoral divisions; the Melbourne EEC, to people from all of Victoria's 37 divisions; and the Adelaide EEC, to people from all of South Australia's 11 electoral divisions.

Just over 81 per cent of visitors to the National EEC were primary school students. A greater proportion of secondary school students, adults and community groups visited the Melbourne and Adelaide centres than visited the National EEC.

Figure 8 shows trends in visitor numbers over the past 10 years.

Figure 8: Trends in Electoral Education Centre visitor numbers, 1999–2000 to 2008–09

Figure 8: Trends in Electoral Education Centre visitor numbers, 1999–2000 to 2008–09

National Electoral Education Centre

The EEC in Old Parliament House, Canberra, is now known as the National EEC. It remained the largest and busiest of the EECs. For the first time, the centre attracted more than 80 000 visitors, an increase of 4550 from 2007–08. Over the past three years, the National EEC has been the only EEC to see an increase in visitor numbers every year.

The National EEC continued to promote its services to community groups and was successful in attracting new citizens and young adult groups to attend sessions, many of which were outside peak times (out of business hours or during school holiday periods). Flyers, advertisements, letters and attendance at tourism open days and shows were all used as parts of the marketing and promotional strategy.

The EEC and the recently opened Museum of Australian Democracy are working together to identify and explore ways to optimise the benefits of being co-located in Old Parliament House.

The EEC also demonstrated its services to delegations of electoral officials from Egypt, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Zambia, as well as a number of state electoral authority staff.

Table 21 provides details of National EEC visitor numbers for the past three years.

Table 21 Visitors to the National Electoral Education Centre, 2006–07 to 2008–09
Visitor group Number of visitors Number of sessions
  2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
Primary students 62 146 62 876 67 002 1 942 1 942 2 059
Junior secondary students 2 984 4 469 4 602 100 157 156
Senior secondary students 4 325 3 683 3 862 154 135 139
Adult participants 266 321 214 24 17 17
Accompanying adults 6 563 6 732 6 951
Total 76 284 78 081 82 631 2 220 2 251 2 371

Melbourne Electoral Education Centre

The Melbourne EEC continued its campaign to increase visitor numbers. Flyers, emails, websites, telephone contact, network development days and media releases were all used as parts of the marketing and promotional strategy.

In April 2009, new citizens on the electoral roll were personally invited to attend special educational sessions aimed at increasing their understanding of, and participation in, the electoral process. While the numbers of participants were not high, most of the feedback provided on session evaluation sheets contained a reference to the voting process and indicated that the sessions had been useful.

In response to requests from teachers, activity worksheets were prepared for use in the classroom following a visit to the centre. Worksheets were also developed to be used by participants as they explored the EEC interactive room, to emphasise the key learning objectives delivered through the computerised interactive technology.

Table 22 provides details of Melbourne EEC visitor numbers for the past three years.

Table 22 Visitors to the Melbourne Electoral Education Centre, 2006–07 to 2008–09
Visitor group Number of visitors Number of sessions
  2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
Primary students 10 689 8 748 8 162 369 334 315
Junior secondary students 4 532 3 768 3 953 184 173 192
Senior secondary students 2 113 1 414 378 94 63 21
Adult participants 1 033 1 142 980 73 83 70
Accompanying adults 1 759 1 604 1 413
Total 20 126 16 676 14 886 720 653 598

Adelaide electoral education centre

The Adelaide EEC was jointly funded by the AEC and the Electoral Commission of South Australia. In 2008–09, the EEC continued to develop new and existing strategies to achieve growth in visitor numbers and increase the number of visitors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Indigenous communities and the 18-25-year age group.

The Adelaide EEC's involvement with Student Parliamentary Debate Week, 'Civics in Action' teacher sessions and History Week are examples of the centre's ability to build partnerships and adapt to other events or themes to provide electoral education.

In the course of this final year of operation, 102 new citizens attended sessions where they were able to learn about voting in Australia. All sessions were well received, leaving participants more confident in their ability to participate in democracy.

Table 23 provides details of Adelaide EEC visitor numbers for the past three years.

Table 23 Visitors to the Adelaide Electoral Education Centre, 2006–07 to 2008–09
Visitor group Number of visitors Number of sessions
  2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
Primary students 3 285 5 091 4 332 119 183 158
Junior secondary students 1 572 1 662 1 011 64 73 48
Senior secondary students 1 069 873 844 47 41 40
Adult participants 1 028 964 860 74 54 48
Accompanying adults 550 707 625
Total 7 504 9 297 7 672 304 351 294

Perth electoral education centre

The AEC provided financial and in-kind assistance to the Western Australian Electoral Commission for the operation of the Perth EEC.