Case study: National Electoral Education Centre
Updated: 18 October 2011
At the AEC's National Electoral Education Centre (NEEC), located in Old Parliament House, a team of professional educators conducts fully facilitated electoral education sessions.
School students are the major audience for the centre, which also provides sessions for migrants and new citizens, seniors, and community groups. The NEEC offers a selection of structured sessions to cater for a range of groups:
- House of Representatives (for all age groups) – highlights preferential voting and explores the concept of representation in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Participants vote and count the votes in a House of Representatives election scenario.
- Referendum (for all age groups, especially people who have prior electoral knowledge) – explores the concept of constitutional change; participants vote and count the votes in a referendum scenario.
- Senate (for senior secondary, tertiary and adult groups) – highlights proportional representation and explores representation in the Senate and House of Representatives. Participants vote and count the votes in a Senate election scenario.
- Eligible Elector (for senior secondary, tertiary and adult groups, especially people who are soon to be eligible voters) – explores representation in the Senate and House of Representatives and the voting process and scrutiny for both houses.
- Personalised Election (for all ages, subject to conditions) – provides for a 'real' election, for example for a Student Representative Council, emphasising the House of Representatives voting process and using a personalised election scenario.
The learning tools used in the sessions include a multimedia presentation in a purpose-built theatrette and interactive displays. Each visiting group receives an electoral education resources pack, and other information complementing the sessions is available from the AEC website.
Demand for the NEEC's programs is very high. More than 80 000 students take part each year. In other sectors, participation is growing: for example, an employment services provider now includes a visit to the NEEC in its work experience support program for migrants. In total, visitor numbers have reached the limits of the centre's capacity, exceeding 90 000, with a waiting list of around 6 000.
Recent research by the University of Canberra's Centre for Tourism Research, published in Size and effect of school excursions to the national capital, 2010 in May 2011, confirmed that the NEEC's many visitors are happy with the services they receive, and that the centre plays an important role among educational tourist attractions in the Australian Capital Territory and the surrounding region. For example:
- Of all school students who visited the Australian Capital Territory and region, 56.1 per cent attended the NEEC.
- In a comparison of levels of satisfaction with attractions for school excursions in Canberra the NEEC was ranked:
- second in terms of the proportion of teachers who were satisfied or very satisfied with their visit, at 98.1 per cent of respondents, and
- equal first in terms of how satisfied participants were, with a rating of 4.83 out of a possible 5.
- Teachers who participated in the survey said that:
- 'The Electoral Education Centre made it easy for the students to understand how an election is run.'
- 'The Electoral Education Centre was brilliant and the guide was great at connecting with the kids and making it incredibly interesting.'
- 'The Electoral Centre visit was great. The instructions were very explicit and well explained.'
- Of all the school groups that visited the Australian Capital Territory and region, 12.4 per cent named the NEEC as a standout component of their visit.