Contents

Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability

Appendices

References

Financial statements

Program 3.2 – School and community programs

Updated: 25 November 2010

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The provision of electoral education and information in schools and to community groups to enhance knowledge and understanding of Australia's electoral system.

Provide professional development and information for teachers and final year teaching students to assist their teaching of electoral education as part of the Civics and Citizenship curriculum in schools.

Overview

Through the national School and Community Visits Program (SCVP), the AEC provides electoral education and information sessions and other activities promoting enrolment and voting to key audiences in local communities. AEC staff members visit schools, tertiary institutions and community groups and participate in community events.

The AEC educators also deliver professional development workshops on electoral education, for teachers and student teachers.

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Performance

Table 32 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for Program 3.2 in the 2009–10 Portfolio Budget Statements.

Table 32 Program 3.2 – School and community programs: performance results
Key performance indicators Targets Results

Participant feedback, including via surveys, indicates satisfaction with AEC school and community and teacher professional development sessions

95% of participant feedback is positive

98% of surveyed participants indicated satisfaction with the program.

88% of surveyed participants demonstrated an improved electoral knowledge or a reinforcement of existing knowledge.

Number of participants in school and community visits sessions

100 000 participants

227 567 participants

Number of participants in teacher professional development sessions

1 200 participants

1 445 participants

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School and Community Visits Program

During 2009–10, outreach activities under the SCVP reached 227 567 participants. The number increased by 65 percent, from 137 699 in 2008–09. The increase largely reflects a concerted effort by the AEC to engage with community groups during the year.

A new database system has improved data capture and recorded activity that may have been underreported under the previous system. The online school and community activity reporting database (OSCAR), developed by the AEC, was launched on 1 July 2009. OSCAR simplifies the recording and reporting functions for SCVP activities for AEC staff.

The AEC in South Australia instituted a centralised marketing initiative to promote awareness of the SCVP. This resulted in a marked increase in the number of schools participating in the program in 2009–10.

The AEC produced new teaching aids to support SCVP activities, in hard copy and electronic formats.

Your Vote Counts, the professional learning aspect of the SCVP, delivered workshops to pre-service teachers involved in civics education. The sessions focused on classroom strategies and the use of AEC resources.

In 2009–10, there were 1 445 participants in this program, a slight decrease compared to the 1 485 in the previous year. This decrease can be explained partly by the cancellation of an education program that the New South Wales Parliament House Education Office had offered to in-service teachers several times a year. The AEC had been a major contributor to that program.

Prior to the 2010 academic year, as a result of participant feedback, the Your Vote Counts workshop method and content were reviewed, and changes were made to increase participation and strengthen the connection with AEC education resources. Early indications are that the changes have been well received.

Participants in the Your Vote Counts sessions were encouraged to evaluate the program. The evaluation shows 98 percent of participants surveyed were satisfied with the program's curriculum relevance and 98 percent indicated satisfaction with the session overall.

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Education sector

In 2009–10, the AEC firmly aligned itself with future directions for electoral education by contributing to the national agenda for civics education, through the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). ACARA was established in 2008 to, among other things, develop and administer a national school curriculum. Through an ongoing process of input into and review of ACARA activities, the AEC will help to shape the future of civics education.

AEC staff in Queensland attended the Education Show in Brisbane, providing resource and education service information to teachers, and held a display at the Queensland History Teachers' Association conference. Local staff also participated in the Cairns and Rockhampton schools constitutional conventions.

In Western Australia, the AEC is an active member of the Education Reference Group, which includes representatives from federal and state governments, education agencies and professionals, with the aim of improving civics and citizenship education.

Other education sector activities in which AEC staff took part during 2009–10 included:

  • attending an Australian Curriculum Studies Association conference on the national curriculum
  • contributing to the national assessment program for civics and citizenship in the area of electoral education
  • assisting with facilitation of the annual schools constitutional conventions held at state and national levels
  • responding to requests for teaching resources via a dedicated AEC email information service (243 requests were received during the year)
  • maintaining a subscriber list for teachers and educators, to disseminate AEC publications and to keep the sector informed about AEC initiatives in electoral education.

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Young people

Around Australia, AEC staff provided electoral and enrolment information at events designed to appeal to and inform young Australians. For example:

  • Western Australian staff provided information to young people attending
    • a Centrelink Jobs Expo
    • the Mindarie Senior College Health Expo, which aims to increase teenagers' knowledge of local services
    • the Cyril Jackson Community Day, an event for young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
  • Tasmanian staff conducted presentations for young people at
    • Lawfest, a conference where young people participate in a referendum that highlights the democratic process in a practical way
    • information sessions for rural youth, and the Rural Youth Careers Expo.

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People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

As a joint initiative with the New South Wales Electoral Commission, the AEC in New South Wales conducted presentations for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in 2009–10. Electoral information sessions were conducted for the Chinese Australian Service Society in the Bankstown area and for the Arabic community in Campbelltown. In preparation for the 2010 federal election, the AEC is putting in place strategies aimed at reducing the high level of informal voting previously recorded in divisions that have a significant proportion of residents from non–English speaking backgrounds.

AEC staff in Victoria attended a migrant information expo to raise awareness about elections and voting with new citizens.

In Queensland, AEC staff provided enrolment and voting information to the Migrant Resource Centre in Townsville and the Multicultural Association in Gladstone.

AEC staff in Tasmania attended various migrant information and education sessions involving migrant resource centres, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and students from the Tasmanian Polytechnic migrant program.

At a number of citizenship ceremonies in Western Australia, new citizens were invited to participate in an AEC education session on the electoral process. Western Australian staff also met with key Muslim advocacy groups within the metropolitan area to distribute information on voting and informality.

In the Northern Territory, a session highlighting the democratic responsibilities of Australian citizens was conducted for a group of immigrants from East Timor prior to their citizenship ceremony.

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Indigenous Australians and people in rural and remote areas

In regional and remote New South Wales, the AEC continued to deliver information to Indigenous communities. In several divisions, divisional office staff met with Indigenous elders to provide information on enrolling, voting, polling place locations, and postal voting.

In Victoria, the AEC worked with the Victorian Electoral Commission to offer education sessions throughout the state, and participated in the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee to help educate social workers and the local community about decision making, informality and voting.

In Dalby, Queensland, AEC staff attended the Black on Track program for Aboriginal men.

In conjunction with the Western Australian Electoral Commission, AEC staff in Western Australia attended the opening ceremony for the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee's NAIDOC Week. A coordinated visits program was undertaken in numerous remote and rural areas across Western Australia, including the Central Desert, Esperance, Kimberley, Pilbara and Mid-west regions. Presentations were also conducted for students at the Clontarf Aboriginal College.

In the Northern Territory, staff conducted sessions on the electoral process in several remote community education facilities. These facilities provide Indigenous community members with an opportunity to gather information on a wide variety of services.

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Other groups

In New South Wales, AEC staff continued to be active in the community, attending local events to promote enrolment and deliver public awareness sessions on electoral processes. These included a number of Centrelink Job Expos, and a forum of the VIEW Club (a national, self-governed women's organisation) where information on the electoral division and the electoral process was presented.

In Victoria, the AEC worked with the Victorian Electoral Commission to deliver the Homeless Doesn't Mean Voteless project. The aim is to educate social workers about enrolment and election issues, so the information can be passed on to people experiencing homelessness. Also in collaboration with the Victorian Electoral Commission, AEC staff attended a prison information session to address questions from social workers and prisoners on enrolment and voting rights.

AEC staff in Queensland provided enrolment and voting information to several disability groups across the state. They also made presentations for senior citizens organisations and the Seniors Lifestyle Expo in Townsville.

In Western Australia, AEC staff again participated in Homeless Connect, an event targeting homeless people in the metropolitan area, and held meetings with key agencies to target electoral participation within this group.

There was a concerted effort to address enrolment and voting issues that affect the 'fly in fly out' workforce in Western Australia. This included discussions with stakeholders and the development of targeted communication strategies.

In Tasmania, sessions were conducted to explain enrolment and voting procedures for Antarctic expeditioners. AEC staff visited the Tasmanian Institute of Internal Auditors to explain the voting process and the procedures that ensure the integrity of the electoral system. Information sessions were also held for three Probus groups and one Lions group, as well as for disabled students at the Tasmanian Polytechnic.

In the Northern Territory, AEC staff conducted education sessions for aged pensioners at two major town centres.