High school students will be taught the Australian system of government after a survey revealed more than half have no idea they live in a democracy – or even know what it means, according to a report in News Limited newspapers (11/6).
This is despite students learning about our political structure at primary school in Year 6, the report adds. The AusCivics program, developed by the Constitution Education Fund Australia and endorsed by the federal and state governments, will be rolled out after the school holidays.
"The Australian Electoral Commission has found that half of young Australians don't know that they live in a democracy or what it actually means," CEF-a’s executive director, Kerry Jones said.
"Children are taught in primary school but then half of them forget everything they've learned by the time they are 16."
News Limited reports that the program has been developed by Ms Jones, formerly Executive Director of ACM, with the author Thomas Keneally, a former chairman of the republican movement and former New South Wales premier Barrie Unsworth. The fund is to be congratulated for this endeavour which has been approved by the Federal Minister for Education, Mr Peter Garrett.
…abuse of parliamentary privilege…
Once again this demonstrates how baseless was the attack on the Fund by a former MP, Lindsay Tanner. Tanner used parliamentary privilege to make his accusations (see “Serious abuse of privilege” 4 November 2010.) Tanner claimed – without any evidence whatsoever – that a number of leading Australians were engaged in breaches of our taxation laws which would have constituted criminal conduct.
After an extraordinarily thorough investigation, the Australian Tax Office found not even one minor breach of the income tax laws.
Tanner did not recontest his seat in 2010 and has since published a book which I understand laments the decline in standards in parliament.
The privilege which MP’s enjoy is an important part of our democracy. How many students have been being taught this or that this comes from the Glorious Revolution and that King William III and Queen Mary II granted this when they assented to what was described as An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown, 1689?
… understanding what Australia is…..
I mention this as a cogent example of the fact that neither our history nor our constitutional system can be understood without a broad study of English history and of the central role of the Crown, including its role in and from the settlement of Australia.
The absence of such a study is a serious gap in our children's education.
The most significant attempt today in filling this vacuum is ACM's web based educational programme which is reaching out into the schools. This is done without then vast resources of the government – which are yours.
If anyone knows any better programme to our schools , we would be delighted to know of this and to publicise it. We would also be delighted to know of similar programmes in other Commonwealth Realms.
…children terrified ….
In the meantime, the Sydney Daily Telegraph (8/6) tells us that psychologists and educational leaders are concerned that our children are being terrified by exaggerated claims about the results of anthropogenic global warming .
ACM of course takes no position concerning this debate.
…no room in the curriculum?…
But we have to ask why there is not room in the curriculum for what was once agreed to be fundamental. And it still is.
Until that is corrected, the ACM programme is surely worthy of support by all those who are concerned about the future of our country.
You may do that here or by contacting ACM's external relations director, Jai Martinkovits at 01 92512500