The Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion 2017 report was released this week. It shows an alarming ambivalence to democracy and our government. The percentage of Australians who ‘almost always’ or ‘most of the time’ trust our government in Canberra is only 29%. Quality of government and politicians was ranked as the second highest concern for respondents to the survey.
The survey also found that 30% of Australians believe that our system of government needs major change, 42% think that we need minor change and 11% believe that the system needs to be replaced. Only 14% believe that the system works fine as it is. Those with less education and from regional areas were more likely to believe the system needs to be changed.
Politics is considered messy at the moment, but the system provided by our Constitution is robust. Our system of government is one of the best in the world and we constantly rank in the top ten democracies. All the problems in Australian politics will be worked out through the processes provided in the Constitution. Here at CEFA we believe that Australians need to know more about the system of government, as stipulated in the Constitution, before they can really make an informed decision about whether it needs to be changed.
CEFA’s 2018 program will tackle this problem and change the attitudes of the Australian people through education.
The Australian Constitution Centre at the High Court
CEFA is delighted to announce that the Australian Constitution Centre will open at the High Court, Canberra, on Monday 9 April 2018. We are confident this pioneering constitutional education initiative will be recognised as a national treasure.
We are very grateful for the funding from the Australian Government and the huge contributions to our Centre made by the High Court. However, our dream would never have become a reality without the contributions of our wonderful CEFA supporters through the many years when constitutional education was not thought to be important or a priority.
The Australian Constitution Centre exhibition and website will explore the history and application of the six foundation principles of the Australian Constitution:
- The rule of law
- The separation of powers
We live in a time when Australians are discussing the relevance of our Constitution, perhaps as never before since federation. The ineligibility of Members of the House of Representatives and Senators to sit in Parliament while holding dual citizenship has made Section 44 of our Constitution a household discussion point, a real BBQ stopper!
The High Court decision on 27 October disqualifying several parliamentarians surprised even our Prime Minister. The situation demonstrates the checks and balances provided to the High Court in our Constitution through the foundation Principle, the separation of powers. As always, CEFA’s non-partisan education programs are vital, particularly to bring constitutional facts into the discussions that Australians are having.
CEFA’s Constitutional Forum (CCF)
Each week we uncover how the Constitution can be applied to what is happening in our Parliament, with the Executive Government, within the Courts or in the States. In the past two years the CCF has reached over 1.2 million people. This very popular program will continue next year. We need to change people’s attitudes to our system of government and our CCF is well on the way to achieving this.
The Governor-General’s Prize
Our 2017 Governor-General’s Undergraduate prize ceremony, held in August at Yarralumla, celebrated the very best of our future young leaders. The questions for the 2018 competition will be announced on 9 April as a part of the celebration for CEFA’s role in the opening of the Australian Constitution Centre at the High Court.
We will reach hundreds of thousands of years 5 and 6 school students and their teachers from April 2018 through the Exhibition at the High Court and through the new website for the Australian Constitution Centre. We will continue with our well established CEFA programs, such as Yaba teaching and learning resources and the parliaments in schools. In 2018 CEFA will concentrate on providing educational programs for secondary school students and their teachers.
We would be wonderfully grateful if you could help us with a tax-deductible donation
First of all, a heartfelt thank-you to those who have financially donated in the past. To continue to provide our essential constitution education programs we need funding. While we always do our best to deliver as economically as possible, we do need your support financially. Every donation is appreciated and they are tax-deductible. While we have been thrilled to receive some bequests from supporters of past years, we also need to urgently expand on our supporter base so we can deliver our future programs successfully.
As we wrap up the CCF for the year, and get ready to face the many challenges 2018 will bring to constitutional education, we wish you all the joys of wonderful Christmas and New Year celebrations.