Implementation of the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program.
Through the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP), the AEC is working to:
Table 32 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for community strategies in the 2010–11 Portfolio Budget Statements.
|Key performance indicators||Results|
|Continue to implement the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program, focusing on identifying and overcoming barriers to participation.||The program design, staff and relationships are in place to provide a firm foundation for the implementation of the program's strategies and activities. Field work commenced in 2010–11 and contributed to an increase in electoral enrolments and more effective participation among Indigenous voters at the 2010 federal election.|
In 2009–10, the Australian Government announced a four-year program to close the gap in areas of Indigenous disadvantage by improving the participation of Indigenous Australians in Australia's electoral and democratic processes. That program, the IEPP, is the first since 1996 that the AEC has run specifically for Indigenous people.
After a period of extensive consultation and program design, the IEPP field program commenced in May 2010, three months before the federal election. Twenty three field staff were recruited and trained, augmenting four staff based in the National Office. Eighteen of the current 23 IEPP staff are Indigenous.
During the first 12 months of implementation, the field program established and developed strong relationships with Indigenous communities and organisations around Australia, including community elders, land councils, community organisations, non-government organisations and government agencies. The strength of those relationships has seen demand for the field program grow rapidly. The program has ready and supported access to most Indigenous communities across the country, allowing it to conduct enrolment and education activities.
In addition to the field program, the IEPP includes:
The program's outreach activities include delivering education sessions in schools, TAFEs and prisons, and providing electoral information at events such as football carnivals, music festivals, agricultural shows and trade and employment expos.
Specifically coded enrolment forms were created for the program to assist the AEC to broadly track the number of enrolments generated by the program. The code does not identify whether the elector is Indigenous or not, but rather indicates where they received their enrolment form. The number of coded forms returned to the AEC has increased on a monthly basis since field work commenced. For example, total enrolment activity for IEPP coded enrolment forms (changes of enrolments, new enrolments and re-enrolments) in May 2010, before any field work was undertaken, was 49 transactions. The number of returned forms rose to 321 in June and to 568 in July prior to the federal election in August. It is important to note that 53 coded enrolment forms were not used consistently by IEPP staff until after the election period. It is also important to note that Indigenous Australians can also enrol using forms obtained from any number of locations, including the Internet.
A trial of electoral awareness officers was undertaken in Queensland in the lead up to and during the 2010 federal election. To expand the reach of the program across the state, 150 community-based electoral awareness officers were recruited, on a casual and temporary basis. A further trial was undertaken at the 2011 New South Wales state election, for which 59 electoral awareness officers were employed. Indications suggest that the officers have had a positive effect, increasing enrolments, increasing participation and reducing informal voting.
Indications of the positive impacts that the IEPP is having in overcoming the barriers to participation include:
As a supplement to the national program of public awareness and education, staff in state and divisional offices deliver local activities to help improve levels of understanding and participation in electoral processes by targeted audiences.
Around Australia, AEC staff seek ongoing engagement with the education sector through attendance at relevant education forums, conferences and expos. For example, AEC staff attended the Business Educators' Association of Queensland Expo and the Queensland History Teachers' Association conference in 2010–11.
AEC staff from divisional offices promote youth enrolment and provide information about electoral and voting processes for young people, by attending university open and orientation days, market days, tertiary and career expos and festivals. For example, in 2010–11 AEC staff in Queensland attended:
In Victoria, an initiative called the 'roving enroller' was trialled. It was designed to promote enrolment to people aged 18–30 years, and provided information relating to voting rights and responsibilities.
In South Australia, staff provided information about citizenship responsibilities to students in the Hyde Street Program social skills program for 'at risk' young people of high school age.
AEC staff provide electoral information sessions to people from CALD backgrounds, and participate in local expos and meetings to engage with CALD community groups and service providers. In 2010–11, education sessions were delivered in migrant information and education sessions and to electors through TAFEs, targeting CALD students attending English courses and workforce preparatory courses.
AEC staff, in partnership with the New South Wales Electoral Commission, conducted electoral information sessions at the Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre in the three weeks preceding the 2011 New South Wales state election, across a range of languages groups including Arabic, Dari, Mandarin and Spanish. The purpose of the presentations was to provide education and information to community groups to increase understanding and reduce the level of informal voting.
In the lead-up to the 2010 federal election, an AEC representative participated in two live SBS radio interviews conducted in Arabic for the Arabic-speaking community. The interviews covered election information and invited questions from the public.
In Queensland, AEC staff attended the Multicultural Festival in Brisbane and the Multicultural Learning and Skilling Expos at Yeronga.
In South Australia, an electoral education program was established with the Adelaide Secondary School of English, which works with students entering the education system as new migrants. During the 2010 federal election, a former child refugee from Sierra Leone worked closely with the AEC's staff in South Australia to promote the importance of enrolment and voting for people from CALD backgrounds.
AEC staff delivered targeted public awareness activities for Indigenous Australians and people in rural and remote areas. Targeted mail-outs were conducted to people living on remote stations, police and teachers. In cooperation with IEPP staff, electoral education sessions were presented to Indigenous and rural and remote communities such as:
The AEC conducted activities to raise awareness of electoral matters and AEC services among a range of other groups with special requirements. For example: