The AEC provides education and public awareness programs to inform and motivate Australians to participate in their democracy.
The AEC commemorated 2012 as the Year of Enrolment and ran a program of activities to encourage Australians to enrol or update their enrolment details.
The Count Me In campaign, launched in May 2012, ran to 31 August 2012. Its aim was to encourage enrolment and update. The main tool was a postcard that went to over 9.8 million households. Public relations, social media and online advertising provided support for the postcard. Activities, particularly targeted at younger Australians, ran through 2012 and included:
Evaluation of Count Me In showed that in the two months after the launch of the campaign it:
Ipsos Social Research Institute’s independent evaluation reported excellent recall at 15 per cent for the direct mail postcard.
The AEC updated its election cycle communications plan for the 2013 election and developed multiple plans in response to changing scenarios for the 2013 election and referendum.
Planning, development and implementation of enrolment stimulation activities took place in 2013. An enrolment stimulation campaign commenced late May. Its aim was to generate enrolments and draw enrolment transactions away from the busy close of rolls phase of the election.
The enrolment campaign was a precursor to the election communication campaign and used new and existing creative materials. Channels included mass media advertising, events, public relations including direct engagement activities, social media, and information materials for specific audiences.
The Glow enrolment advertising campaign, used prior to the 2007 election, was the basis for development of a mass media advertising campaign to run for three weeks from July 2013. Advertising will run in conjunction with a public relations campaign Don’t Leave it to the Last Minute, focuses on stimulating enrolment among key audience groups such as young people.
To be election ready, the AEC maintained an up-to-date national advertising campaign. Preparation included:
Following passage of the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) 2013 on 24 June 2013, the AEC prepared communications for voters and stakeholders about the proposed referendum. The Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 authorises the AEC to conduct referendums, including the preparation and distribution of the pamphlet (referendum booklet) containing the parliamentary yes and no cases. The passage of legislation to alter the Constitution triggered a 28-day timeframe for members of parliament to provide an argument for or against the proposed change. The AEC provided guidelines to members of parliament with information about the style and format of the booklet. The AEC provides the referendum booklet to every address on the Commonwealth electoral roll, ‘not later’ than 14 days before the date for polling for the referendum. Advertising was prepared for a combined election and referendum.
Most Australians keep their enrolment up-to-date, but some are harder to reach and engage in electoral processes.
The AEC tailors its communication to special audience groups including:
During the year, state and divisional offices used local partnerships and networks to conduct a wide range of enrolment and voter participation activities including:
The AEC provided services and resources to the education sector to help educate the Australian community on electoral matters. Two key target groups are young people and new citizens.
AEC education programs include sessions at the National Electoral Education Centre (NEEC) in Canberra, visits to schools across Australia by AEC staff, and workshops for educators to support classroom work.
Electoral education: continue to deliver a variety of electoral education services, greater use of online technology to deliver supporting resource material, and collaborate and partner with other government and non-government instrumentalities in the delivery of quality civics education.
Key performance indicator: 78 000 visitors to the National Electoral Education Centre (NEEC) per annum.
Key performance indicator: 2 000 NEEC sessions delivered per annum.
Key performance indicator: 100 000 participants in AEC education outreach services.
Key performance indicator: 1 200 participants in teacher professional development sessions.
Key performance indicator: Contemporary service delivery options, including partnerships that promote public awareness of electoral mattersc.
Key performance indicator: Contemporary online education resource material that responds to curriculum needsd.
Key performance indicator: Participant feedback indicates 90% satisfaction with AEC education services.
The National Electoral Education Centre (NEEC), located at Old Parliament House in Canberra, provides electoral education for new and young Australians.
In 2012–13, the NEEC achieved a record number of visitors at 90 400. In November 2013, the NEEC is due to welcome its one-millionth visitor since relocating to Old Parliament House in 2001. The NEEC hosted visitors from all 150 electoral divisions in Australia and delivered 2 600 education sessions.
Education sessions explore Australian government and democracy and focus on the democratic rights of Australians and the importance of enrolling to vote. While the majority of visitors are school students, the NEEC conducts sessions for adults, including new Australians. For older students their visit includes enrolling to vote.
A priority for the NEEC in 2012–13 was to modernise technology. This included:
The NEEC ranked second for satisfaction against national attractions in the annual University of Canberra report into school excursions to Canberra.f
In 2012–13, the AEC continued to provide education services to schools, universities and community groups, and participated in a range of community events across Australia. Of note was the development of the Making a Nation an online interactive education resource.
In October 2012, the AEC launched a new national school education program, Get Voting, to replace the school component of the AEC’s outreach program School and Community Visits. Rather than divisional staff delivering sessions to students, Get Voting equips teachers to deliver electoral education to students.
Get Voting assists primary and secondary schools conduct their own elections. Online resources provide information and planning tools for teachers. A key feature of the website is the ability for teachers to create customised ballot papers.
Schools can request free election resources including a ballot box, posters and election equipment to conduct a voting process to mirror a federal election. This authentic experience of a polling place includes opportunities to work ‘behind the scenes’.
As part of Get Voting, AEC staff visit schools to give expert advice on good electoral practice and to build relationships in the education sector.
Since the launch of Get Voting in October 2012 until 30 June 2013, the AEC:
Further enhancements to the Get Voting website will deliver new classroom activities, and additional interactive tools to manage school elections.
In 2012–13, the AEC provided resources to assist teachers to deliver civics education in schools including:
For the election year, the AEC designed a poster for teachers to encourage discussion about what it means to participate in a democracy and to help students learn about elections and voting. The poster includes supporting activities focusing on integrated learning within history, geography, maths and English.
Your Vote Counts is a workshop AEC staff present to university students studying education degrees. Aiming to develop the skills and knowledge needed to teach civics education in schools, the program explains the federal electoral system and Australia’s Constitution. Activity based, the workshop includes a simulated election that demonstrates full preferential voting. During 2012–13, over 3 000 university students participated in Your Vote Counts. The program received a 98 per cent satisfaction rating from participants.
In 2012–13, the AEC contributed to the national agenda for civics education through the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
In August 2012, the AEC provided a response to the ‘Civics and Citizenship Draft Shape Paper’ highlighting the need for schools to be places where young citizens can begin to form positive attitudes to Australia’s democracy.
With the release of the Draft Curriculum for Civics and Citizenship in May 2013, and consultation open until August 2013, the AEC will further contribute to the national agenda for civics education.
In 2013, the AEC designed an online interactive learning tool for senior history students, called Making a Nation. Designed to link directly to the new Australian Curriculum for History, Making a Nation covers the key events and ideas in the development of Australia’s self-government and democracy.
The modules highlight the role of the Constitution and the significance of the features of the Australian democratic system, in particular, the parliamentary system, elections, and referendums.
Making a Nation will be available on the AEC’s website and allows students to process and analyse information from a variety of source material. Students undertake learning activities to analyse different historical perspectives. The package includes a comprehensive teacher guide.
The AEC collaborates with education professionals through educational forums including:
In 2012, the AEC worked with the Western Australian Electoral Commission on the WA Civics and Citizenship Competition. The 2013 competition is on referendums and democratic decision-making.
Throughout 2012–13, the AEC increased engagement with Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. People for whom English is a second language are concerned about understanding their electoral responsibilities. The AEC has a new formality strategy, which aims to increase participation and formal voting. The strategy incorporates communications, education and operational interventions, and will be evaluated in 2013–14.
For the 2013 election the AEC recruited and trained community engagement officers (CEOs).Their purpose is to visit communities in Sydney and Melbourne, which have increased rates of informal voting related to English proficiency. The CEOs will work in their communities until election day, give demonstrations of voting correctly, and help participants practise voting. Participants speak a variety of languages including Arabic, Persian, Korean, Afghani, Dari, Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese backgrounds (see case study).
In addition, state, territory and divisional offices conduct grass roots activities to improve voter participation in CALD communities. In 2012–13 this included:
Indigenous Australians are significantly less likely to enrol, less likely to vote, and more likely to vote informally. A continuing priority for the AEC is to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage in electoral participation.
Established in 2009–10, the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP) aims to increase electoral knowledge, enrolment and participation and decrease levels of informal voting.
In 2012–13, IEPP’s key performance indicators were updated.
Community strategies: Deliver the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program
Key performance indicator: Continue to implement the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program.g
Key performance indicator: Continue to implement the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program, focusing on identifying and overcoming barriers to participation.
Key performance indicator: Support materials developed and fieldwork program continued for the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program.
Key performance indicator: Evaluation shows the IEPP is meeting its objectives.h
Key performance indicator: Feedback from target audience on the IEPP shows the program is well received.h
In 2012–13, the AEC redesigned the IEPP to implement the findings of the comprehensive program review.
The AEC initially recruited field staff on a non-ongoing basis with job descriptions emphasising community contacts and networking skills to deliver education programs.
An evaluation, assessing the program’s impact and outcomes over the initial two years identified better service delivery approaches. It recommended program redesign to reduce the focus on staff-delivered services in remote areas balanced by increased emphasis on:
Evaluation of the effectiveness of the redesigned program in improving electoral participation by Indigenous Australians will follow the federal election.
While the focus was on program redesign, IEPP community and Indigenous engagement officers continued to deliver education outreach services across Australia. Activities included education sessions at the community level; schools, football carnivals, music festivals, NAIDOC and Reconciliation Week events and employment expos.
AEC Indigenous electoral awareness officers supported community and Indigenous engagement officers in mainly remote and regional communities. Integral to the success of the program in 2012–13 was the support and encouragement of divisional office staff to establish relationships at a community level. ‘Mainstreaming’ IEPP objectives into core business has significantly increased the program’s reach and improved the AEC’s responsiveness to the community.
Community and Indigenous engagement officers reported that public awareness of the proposed referendum to amend the Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians and Australia’s Indigenous heritage increasingly prompted enrolment enquiries.
In 2012–13, the IEPP redesigned the community education curriculum to provide a nationally consistent approach. The AEC developed interactive content for delivery by other agencies on their behalf to target different audiences.
Indigenous artists were engaged to develop IEPP’s new visual identity, and community engagement staff provided guidance and creative inspiration to develop a suite of information and communication products. Marcus Lee created the visual identity. His Indigenous heritage stems from the Karajarri people in the Kimberly region of Western Australia.
Co-sponsored activities and collaboration with non-government organisations to promote electoral participation in 2012–13 included:
Community engagement staff in Western Australia and the Northern Territory worked in partnership with other jurisdictions to develop common information materials and to deliver outreach services to support Indigenous participation in state and territory government elections.
One of the AEC’s ongoing concerns is youth electoral engagement. An IEPP initiative in 2012–13 was the Youth listening to Youth forum to encourage involvement by Indigenous young people in democratic and electoral processes. A group of young Indigenous leaders hosted a trial of this community based interactive forum in New South Wales. Intent on building on the successful inaugural National Indigenous Youth Parliament in May 2012, the 2013 event aimed to apply the lessons learned in 2012 at a community level through local actions.
Youth listening to Youth will begin nationally in 2014 (see case study).
In 2012–13, maintaining best practice governance and accountability arrangements for IEPP was a priority. This included:
Current indicators are positive. For example:
An additional indicator of success was the AEC short-listing for a Deadly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education. Votes by readers of Deadly Vibe magazine and an assessment by an expert panel determine the winner. The AEC was the only Commonwealth agency short-listed for an award. The high profile awards highlighted Indigenous people in music, sport, the arts, entertainment, health, education and community achievement.
The AEC aims to provide every Australian with an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process and supports the Australian Government’s Social Inclusion Agenda.
The AEC provides a range of products and information services for people with disability including:
During 2012–13, the AEC concluded inspections of polling places for the federal election to ensure they meet Australian accessibility standards where possible.i
The AEC’s Disability Advisory Committee held its annual meeting in May 2013 at the offices of the Australian Human Rights Commission in Sydney. The committee has representatives from peak disability organisations and the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand.
The AEC reported on progress against the AEC’s Disability Inclusion Strategy 2012–20. The report outlined a range of actions which aim to support people with disability participate in the electoral system and to ensure the AEC is an inclusive workplace, supportive of employees with disability.
Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role transferred to the Australian Public Service (APS) Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. From 2010–11, departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.
The National Disability Strategy replaced the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. The new strategy sets out a ten-year national policy framework for improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers. The Standing Council on Community, Housing and Disability Services will produce a high level report to track progress for people with disability at a national level and present it to the Council of Australian Governments. It will be available at www.fahcsia.gov.au. The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy agreed by the government in December 2009 will also include some reporting on disability matters in its regular How Australia is Faring report and, if appropriate, in strategic change indicators in agency annual reports.
Communication strategies: development and implementation of the AEC’s communication strategy to support its conduct of the next federal election and any referendums and make greater use of contemporary technology to deliver modern products and services in line with community preferences for more online services.
Key performance indicator: AEC communication strategies and services developed, implemented and reviewed as appropriate.
Key performance indicator: Audience feedback is positive for effectiveness of specific advertising campaigns and public awareness activities through surveys, market research, and stakeholder consultation.
Key performance indicator: Published information is timely and accurate, makes appropriate use of available technology, and meets online accessibility standards.
The AEC received an average of 35 media enquiries per week in 2012–13. The enquiries were to media liaison staff throughout Australia. Media and public relations activity focused on:
In 2012–13, the AEC website received 3.3 million visits, an overall increase of 28 per cent on 2011–12. Visits from desktop computers increased by 16 per cent, tablet devices by 205 per cent and mobile phones by 134 per cent. In line with national and worldwide trends, the AEC served the increase in the range of devices by applying responsive design techniques to the AEC website. This ensured access to the full range of AEC content and services on the website.
The AEC website and intranet provide public and staff, with easy and timely access to information in a range of accessible formats. Web accessibility continues as a high priority to meet the Australian Government’s National Transition Strategy timelines and legislative requirements.
The AEC integrated social media channels into communication activities. Social media activities allow the AEC to engage and interact with audiences in their own space and time.
Launched in July 2012, the AEC’s Facebook page supported the Count Me In campaign, the launch of Get Voting, the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program, and the new online enrolment service.
The AEC Facebook page promotes enrolment, particularly to youth and had 4 800 page likes,1 300 post likes, 850 post shares, 250 post comments and over 50 direct enquiries. AEC Twitter had 2 133 followers, 2 456 retweets and 479 direct enquiries.