Australia needs an educated vote

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Australia needs an educated vote

Election campaign in Springwood NSW

Election campaign in Springwood NSW

Photo: Julia Bell

Election campaign in Springwood NSW

Photo: Julia Bell

Photo: Julia Bell

Election campaign in Springwood NSW

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The lack of interest in Australian politics and political issues by young adults who have been thrown into the adult world is the result of “Americanisation of politics,” says Vicky Williams, deputy principal of Wycliffe Christian School in Warrimoo, in the lower Blue Mountains.

This may be key in the lack of understanding of the political climate; and scandalous stories hold more attention. Students can discuss about Trump’s controversial policies and history, but know little about Australian politicians, she says.

Ms Williams says that the sensationalism of Trump only reinforces how important an educated vote is for Australia.

According to the AES, in 2016 29% of people aged 18-24 said they had not much interest in politics, 7% saying they have no interest, higher than any other age range. Jill Sheppard from Australian National University’s School of Politics and International Relations was quoted in an article written by Shannon Molloy at News.com.au in 2018. In the article, Sheppard stated that Aussies had never cared intensely about politics. “But the change we’ve seen is that they care less than ever,”.’

Despite this, the most recent data from the AEC says that 98.3% of people within New South Wales have enrolled to vote, the highest rate ever. While the sensationalism of Trump’s presidency has been a double edged sword, perhaps it has sparked the need for involvement in the next generation, but with the lacking of political education it just creates frustration with young voters.

When asked about whether the current education system should be altered to teach about political issues, young voters responded by saying,

“Yes, when people get to the age of 18 they have no idea who to vote for! They need to teach in classes what is happening,” says Hannah Parsons, 19.

“Without educating people the government is forcing people who are hardly treated as adults in their everyday life to vote as adults,” says Siobhan Toft, 19.

While the AEC, Oxfam, and the ABC have resources to teach about democracy and parliament, they are aimed at children in middle school, and often teach about the structure of different parties, as opposed to current events, issues and policies. One exception to this is Sammy J’s Playground Politics. While still aimed at children, it discusses current political issues such as refugees, republics, and a minority government.