Last week, in an effort to better understand the Australian political system, our Year 8 students participated in the annual St Michael’s Grammar School Mock Federal Election. Working together in House groups, each House was assigned to a political party, where they adopted the policies of that party and ran a campaign based on the party’s beliefs.
Head of Humanities, Miss Stephanie Kortum said the three day program is designed to show students some of the key aspects and roles of political leaders in trying to gain the support of Australian voters. ‘To highlight the different responsibilities of a political party, students were divided into six teams including; the whip, the leadership committee, the policy making committee, the publicity making committee and the press committee.’
The Australian Labor Party – Sarum
Australian Greens – Breen
Liberal Party of Australia – Mitre
Katter’s Australian Party – Kilburn
National Party of Australia – Hughes
Over the course of three days, the campaigning included a variety of activities and events and culminated in a vote, open to Year 8 students and staff members. Major political issues were discussed in four plenary sessions and each party had the opportunity to share their policies on the following topics:
- Should the Australian Government be supporting Australian farmers affected by drought or leave them to run their own businesses independently?
- Should reef protection programs of the Great Barrier Reef be a key priority for the Australian Government?
- Should assisted dying be legalised across Australia for those with terminal illnesses?
- Should Australia choose to remain within the British Commonwealth or become a republic?
‘It was fantastic to witness the leaders and the policy making committees develop and present research in the daily plenary sessions and to see the press, multimedia and publicity committees develop promotional material to sway voters,’ said Miss Kortum.
Each year, a highlight for many staff and students, is the wonderful morning tea that the Year 8 students host on behalf of their party in a final attempt to convince voters to vote for them. Staff have the opportunity to hear each party’s policies, ask questions and see all of the students hard work on display before casting their vote.
In accordance with Australian Parliament, voting is ranked using the preferential voting system. Although the votes were close, it was The Greens (represented by Breen) who took home the election win. Additional awards included:
- Most engaging party room set up: Liberal Party of Australia (represented by Mitre)
- Most influential publicity on SchoL: The Australian Labor Party (represented by Sarum)
- Most creative and informative party advertisement video: Katter’s Australian Party (represented by Kilburn)
- Strongest utilisation of research to support policies in pamphlets and plenary sessions: National Party of Australia (represented by Hughes)
It was fantastic to see the students fully participating in all the activities and events over the course of the mock election.
Head of the School, Mrs Terrie Jones said that this level of engagement affirms the value of experiential learning. ‘The Humanities staff could have designed learning around the political process in any number of ways, but I doubt any other way would have brought about the same level of engagement and deep understanding that the Mock Election has provided,’ said Mrs Jones.
Well done to all the houses for the fantastic way in which they campaigned and conducted themselves throughout the election process – what a great way to end Term 3!