Annual Report 2014–15

3Performance reporting

Education and Communications

AEC OUTCOME

Maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services and targeted education and public awareness programs.

  • 1.1 Electoral Roll Management
  • 1.2 Election Management and Support Services
  • 1.3 Education and Communication

Programme objective

Informed Australians through the provision of information services on electoral matters.

The AEC conducts a range of education and public awareness campaigns to promote knowledge of, and participation in, the electoral process. This includes information and services that address the needs of Indigenous Australians and those with diverse needs.

Overview

This section reports on the AEC’s performance in:

  • providing electoral education services to schools, students, teachers and the general public
  • delivering public awareness programs to help Australians understand and fulfil their electoral obligations
  • delivering targeted programs so that all eligible voters can participate in Australian democracy regardless of individual background or circumstances.

Education

In 2014–15 the AEC provided education services to teachers and students in schools through a variety of channels and programs.

National Electoral Education Centre

The AEC’s National Electoral Education Centre (NEEC) at Old Parliament House in Canberra provides electoral education on Australian government and democracy, federal electoral processes and the democratic responsibilities of all citizens. While the majority of visitors are school students, the centre also conducts sessions for adults. For visitors aged 16 or older, the sessions include the opportunity to enrol.

In 2014–15 the NEEC hosted visitors from 149 electoral divisions and delivered 2 592 education sessions to 90 982 participants. This is a record number of visitors to the NEEC and can be attributed in part to the special events in the capital for the commemorations of the Centenary of ANZAC.

During 2014–15 three reviews were conducted involving the NEEC. Two of the reviews evaluated the goals and outcomes of programs delivered at the NEEC and one reviewed the use and design of the centre foyer space. All final reports and recommendations have now been received.

The NEEC also participated in a longitudinal study conducted by the University of Queensland. The aim of this study was to measure the impact of a ‘Canberra visit’ on students’ knowledge of the federal electoral system. Findings of this study will be returned to the AEC and will feed into the ongoing evaluation of the program.

Get Voting

The AEC’s national school education programme, Get Voting, helps primary and secondary schools to conduct in-school elections for real positions, such as representatives on student councils. These authentic election experiences help students to understand the federal electoral system and prepare them to fulfil their democratic responsibilities as adults.

Get Voting provides self-serve, online resources and planning tools for teachers. Free election resources, including ballot boxes, posters and other equipment, are also distributed on request to schools. AEC education staff support the program, providing advice on good electoral practice through an online enquiry tool.

In 2014–15 the Get Voting website:

  • received 22 088 visitors
  • logged 465 requests for election equipment packs
  • was used to deliver school elections for 57 462 students.

During 2014–15, the AEC developed and launched a feedback process in the form of a teacher survey. This web-based survey is forwarded directly to teachers who have registered their school on the Get Voting website. The online survey is sent to the teacher a week after the nominated election date. This process began in November 2014 and as at 30 June 2015, a total of 306 schools had received surveys – 38 of which had been returned.

The survey responses received from teachers will assist the AEC to better understand how Get Voting resources are used in schools and to identify ways to expand the reach of the program.

Assisting teachers

Professional learning

The 2014–15 financial year was a time of re-focus for the AEC’s professional learning programme. Work aligning the AEC professional learning programme with the National Teaching Standards enabled official accreditation with the teacher registration bodies of two jurisdictions. The newly developed session, ‘Voting in the classroom’ is a two-hour interactive workshop presented by AEC staff to in-service teachers. The programme aims to develop the knowledge and skills needed to teach electoral education in primary and secondary schools.

Between the programme’s accreditation in February 2015 and 30 June 2015, more than 60 in-service teachers participated in the ‘Voting in the classroom’ workshop. Investigations to identify other delivery methods to reach a wider education sector will continue in 2015–16.

Civics education

In 2014–15, the AEC also contributed to:

  • the Australian Government’s National and ACT Schools Constitutional Conventions
  • the National Capital Civics Education Group – the peak forum for Canberra-based civics and citizenship institutions.

Online education resources

The AEC provides a range of education resources to schools and information to the general public through its website. In an effort to make these education resources more accessible and attractive to teachers, work was undertaken to develop a new visual identity and design for the AEC’s education website. The new website design allows users to easily discover the large variety of classroom resources that are available.

The AEC’s education section also offers a dedicated email service for teachers. This service has enabled the AEC to provide timely information and advice for school election activities. A subscriber list for teachers and educators is used to distribute updates and additional information about resources and services.

Public awareness

The AEC engages with the Australian public across a range of platforms as it manages enquiries, feedback, complaints and information dissemination.

AEC website

The AEC website, continues to be the main external communication platform of the agency. Since 2012, the website has employed a responsive design to ensure it is usable on any device (e.g. desktop computer, tablet and mobile phone).

In 2014–15 it serviced 2.5 million users and the most popular content concerned enrolling or updating enrolment details (i.e. updating an address) on the electoral roll.

Web accessibility

In 2015, the AEC developed a web accessibility action plan to set out the mandated activities to be undertaken to ensure its existing and future websites and web systems are appropriately accessible by people with disability.

AEC social media

In 2014–15 the AEC’s social media presence included Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Social media played a role in the AEC’s external communication activities, allowing the agency to distribute messages and respond to enquiries in a timely manner.

Twitter

On 30 June 2015 the AEC Twitter account (@AusElectoralCom) had over 8 500 followers. Followers of the AEC on Twitter include media organisations, journalists, electoral enthusiasts and members of the general public. The AEC Twitter account was used throughout 2014–15 to communicate with this audience regarding newsworthy federal electoral matters including party registration, redistribution processes, electoral enrolment and financial disclosure.

A total of 85 proactive tweets were sent from the AEC Twitter account during 2014–15, receiving a total of 957 retweets.

Facebook

Throughout 2014–15 the AEC Facebook page received 47 direct enquiries and as at 30 June 2015 had a total of 20 141 page likes.

YouTube

Launched in December 2013, the AEC YouTube account features video content such as television advertisements from public information campaigns (e.g. how to make your vote count). The most popular content on the channel in the past 12 months included television advertisements encouraging the involvement of Indigenous Australians and the participation of all Australians in the electoral process.

National enquiry service

The agency’s online enquiry platform allows members of the public to directly contact the AEC via the website.

National telephone service

The AEC’s national telephone service provides information and receives queries from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on 13 23 26. The international call number is +61 2 6160 2600. Those with hearing or speech impairment can contact the AEC via the National Relay Service, Text Telephone (TTY), Speak and Listen and Internet relay.

Publications and resources

A range of publications and resources are available at state, territory and local AEC offices. Those available online at the AEC website include corporate publications, handbooks, information reference publications, reports on federal electoral events, public policy, research and evaluation reports.

Media relations

In 2014–15 the AEC distributed 17 media releases, of which more than half concerned the redistribution of federal electoral boundaries.

Internal communication

The AEC’s network of national, state, territory and divisional offices requires the agency to operate a comprehensive and efficient suite of internal communication channels. Since the establishment of the communication framework in 2011, the AEC’s internal communication has been carefully aligned with its strategic direction to support the delivery of business outcomes. The agency’s intranet system provides information to staff across the national network of AEC offices, providing platforms for discussion, collaboration and information sharing.

The AEC’s intranet, as a primary communication channel for all staff provides information as part of the AEC’s change journey. In June 2015, the Getting ready for 2016 brand was launched on the AEC intranet to provide staff with consolidated details about the key projects being implemented ahead of the anticipated 2016 federal election.

Move of the national office

In 2014–15, a key aspect of internal communication for the AEC was the move of the national office involving 320 staff members. As an exercise in active change management, this project was successful for the AEC and received positive staff feedback.

In the lead-up to the move in May 2015, staff based in the national office were provided with extensive information, resources, tips and guidance via the intranet.

Staff throughout the national network were encouraged to participate in an online discussion forum and to submit queries to a dedicated email address.

Assisting Australians with diverse needs

Social inclusion

As voting is compulsory in Australia, the AEC addresses the needs of a diverse range of people when managing electoral events and preparing information for the public. As a result, the AEC utilises a range of education and communication initiatives that address the needs of Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; those suffering disadvantage (such as homelessness); those who have difficulty communicating; and those with hearing, sight or other physical impairments.

In addition to supporting the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, the agency utilises a number of initiatives and outreach activities to improve awareness of, and access to, electoral services. The AEC provides a service for voters who are deaf or who have a hearing or speech impairment. The service is operated by the National Relay Service, which is managed though the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Translation services

The AEC provides a translation service, which is outsourced to the Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service (VITS). This service can also be accessed through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Translating and Interpreting Service.

VITS operated 16 dedicated language specific telephone interpreter information lines and a multi-language information line. It handled 3 033 calls in 2014–15. A total of 2 073 callers used the translator service to speak directly to AEC staff. The top three languages used were Mandarin (825 calls), Arabic (420 calls) and Korean (367 calls).

For new citizens who speak a language other than English, the AEC also provides translated information about enrolment and voting in 26 languages available on the AEC website.

Services for Indigenous Australians

Indigenous Australians are less likely to enrol, less likely to vote and less likely to vote formally than any other Australians. The AEC’s Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP) aims to close this gap. Under the programme, AEC staff at national, state and local levels work directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their local communities or in partnership with other organisations to deliver services in ways that meet cultural and regional needs.

In 2014–15, the core IEPP objectives were to:

  • develop and maintain relationships with Indigenous organisations and other government agencies providing services to Indigenous Australians
  • improve the AEC’s capability to deliver effective, culturally appropriate services to Indigenous Australians
  • prepare for the next federal election.

Strategic partnerships to engage Indigenous audiences

Partnerships allow the AEC to extend the reach and increase the impact of communication to Indigenous audiences. Throughout the year the AEC worked in partnership with government and non-government agencies to widen the delivery of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This was particularly important in remote locations with the additional barriers of distance and access.

These activities included sponsorship of key Indigenous cultural and sporting events to disseminate messages about enrolment, voting and electoral processes.

A Community and Stakeholder Engagement (CASE) system is being developed to improve the AEC’s ability to engage and maintain relationships with Indigenous organisations and other government agencies providing services to Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous service delivery is everyone’s business

Capability to deliver effective, culturally appropriate services to Indigenous Australians is important across the AEC. Key activities designed to build capability in this area include:

  • celebrating Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week and similar events
  • the AEC’s Reconciliation Action Plan which sets out how the agency will contribute to the reconciliation with our Indigenous employees and other Indigenous Australians
  • making cultural appreciation training available to all AEC staff.
Indigenous elector filling in enrolment form
Strategic partnerships allow the AEC to provide culturally appropriate services to Indigenous Australians.

Reconciliation action plan

The AEC’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) works with stakeholders across the AEC network to transform good intentions into genuine action for reconciliation in Australia, by acknowledging areas of influence that can actively contribute to reconciliation in Australia, in the AEC and in our everyday working lives.

The AEC’s RAP 2012–14 expired in December 2014. A dedicated RAP Working Group was assembled to develop a new RAP with Indigenous representatives from every state and territory. Having reflected on the outcomes of the previous RAP, the Working Group is developing a range of strategies to embed the 2016–19 RAP into the AEC’s core business planning and processes. The key objective of the 2016–19 RAP is to promote an agency culture that acknowledges the achievements and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – particularly the AEC’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.

Services for the next federal election

Evaluation showed increased electoral knowledge, enrolment and turnout by Indigenous Australians at the 2013 federal election.

Activities to build on this success include:

  • communication and media plans tailored for an Indigenous audience
  • assessing culturally appropriate polling venues for areas with significant Indigenous populations
  • reviewing polling official recruitment and training strategies to increase employment of Indigenous Australians in polling places.
Programme 1.3 Targeted Education and Public Awareness Programmes – key performance results
Key performance indicators 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Electoral education

78 000 visitors to the National Electoral Education Centre (NEEC) per annum.

Achieved

90 400

Achieved

87 065

Achieved

90 982

2 000 NEEC sessions delivered per annum.

Achieved

2 600

Achieved

2 542

Achieved

2 592

100 000 participants in AEC education outreach services.

Achieved

100 717

Not achieved

83 025

Reduced number is due to the diversion of AEC operational capacity to election delivery throughout 2013–14.

Not achieved

57 462 school groups reached by Get Voting website.

The School and Community Visits programme has ceased and outreach activities are in transition to develop greater online delivery.

1 200 participants in teacher professional development sessions.

Achieved

3 184 students from 18 universities.

Achieved

2 079 students from eight universities.

Not achieved

65 teachers nationally.

Delivery of the Professional Learning programme ceased, to allow for redevelopment, including a pilot programme concentrating on fully-qualified teachers working in schools (rather than students studying teaching).

Contemporary service delivery options, including partnerships that promote public awareness of electoral matters.

Achieved

Get Voting operating in all states.

Achieved

Get Voting take-up in 127 electoral divisions.

Achieved

Accreditation of Teacher Professional Learning Programme in two education jurisdictions. Get Voting programme implemented a feedback survey for teachers.

Contemporary online education resource material that responds to curriculum needs.

Achieved

Delivered education modules linked to national history curriculum.

Achieved

Education modules available through the national teacher resource portal.

Achieved

New visual identity created for education website.

Participant feedback indicates 90% satisfaction with AEC education services.

Achieved

Over 90% satisfaction rate with AEC education programmes.

Achieved

Over 90% satisfaction rate with AEC education programmes.

Achieved

Over 90% satisfaction rate with AEC education programmes.

Communication strategies and services

AEC communication strategies and services developed, implemented and reviewed as appropriate.

Achieved

Developed communication strategies for 2013 federal election including enrolment, pre-election, referendum and special audience strategies.

Achieved

Implemented communication strategies for 2013 federal election, 2014 Griffith by-election and 2014 WA Senate election, including tailored delivery to special audiences.

Achieved

Communication strategies reviewed for next federal election and preparation in-progress.

Positive audience feedback on effectiveness of advertising and public awareness activities through surveys, market research and stakeholder consultation.

Achieved

Market research supports effectiveness of Count Me In campaign enrolment publicity materials.

Achieved

Market research supports effectiveness of election campaigns in raising public awareness.

Not applicable

Relevant in years where federal elections or electoral communications campaigns implemented.

Published information is timely and accurate, makes appropriate use of available technology and meets online accessibility standards.

Achieved

Public information and key services (e.g. enrolment) delivered using online technology, including AEC website and social media.

Social media fully integrated into communication campaigns.

Website meets AGIMO National Transition Strategy accessibility standards.

Achieved

Timely and accurate public information delivered through AEC website and social media for 2013 federal election, 2014 Griffith by-election and 2014 WA Senate election.

Achieved

Timely and accurate public information delivered through AEC website and social media.

Community strategies

Evaluation shows the Indigenous Elector Participation Program, is meeting its objectives.

Achieved

Implemented findings of program review (evaluation) to meet program objectives. Applied more strategic approach; reduced focus on community engagement staff delivered services in remote areas balanced by increased emphasis on urban and regional locations, and partnerships with government and non-government agencies. IEPP objectives were mainstreamed into core AEC business.

Achieved

Mainstream and targeted services for Indigenous Australians during the 2013 federal election were delivered and evaluated. A focus in 2013–14 was the increase in electoral knowledge, enrolment and participation by Indigenous Australians through strategic partnerships and employment opportunities.

Achieved

Increased emphasis on engaging with Indigenous Australians through stakeholders and partnership arrangements. Culturally appropriate service delivery supported by training and guidance from Indigenous AEC staff.

Feedback from target audience on the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program shows the program is well received.

Achieved

Developed tailored and customised community education services and national communications strategy include new visual identity and suite of information products. Implemented redesigned program based on feedback from program review. Developed business rules for national actions to increase Indigenous electoral participation ahead of an election and referendum. Feedback positive.

Achieved

Feedback by Indigenous Australians during federal election was positive. Attitudes to enrolment and voting improved, particularly in communities surveyed in the Northern Territory and Queensland and through online mediums such as Facebook and the AEC’s website.

Achieved

Positive feedback from Indigenous Australians for AEC engagement and awareness of electoral processes.