This report highlights significant opportunities to better engage key sections of the population in electoral matters and to improve the quality of civics education. The report follows successive surveys of young people which have shown that Australians between the ages of 15 and 35 typically have limited knowledge of Australia’s political history and political system, and have little interest in Australian political affairs.
Australian Electoral Commission reports also indicate that young and Indigenous Australians are more likely to be under-enrolled, while higher levels of informal voting are often evident among culturally and linguistically diverse groups.
Key recommendations include:
• developing a short, focused electoral education unit to be delivered to either Year 9 or 10 students and Year 11 and 12 students, in all secondary schools;
• re-assessing the Parliament and Civics Education Rebate as it affects students from the remotest parts of Australia; and
• improved training and guidelines for polling officials in communicating with Indigenous Australians;
• reviewing the languages which the Australian Electoral Commission currently translates its materials into, taking into account the languages spoken by more recent migrant arrivals to Australia; and
• providing a programme of electoral education in the lead up to federal elections which specifically targets areas of high informal voting including those with a high proportion of voters from non-English speaking backgrounds and those in areas where there are different voting systems in place for State elections.