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Civics & Citizenship - Understanding Politics


Mr Finch to move - That the Legislative Council -

  1. Notes that Civics and Citizenship is a part of the national curriculum that measures students' understanding of Australia's historic and current governance systems and practices, as well as Australian identity and culture.

  2. Recognises that results from the 2016 National Assessment Program for Civics and Citizenship showed that only 30 per cent of Tasmanian year 10 students achieved a proficient standard.

  3. Recognises that Civics and Citizenship is a vital part of increasing understanding of politics and helps equip young adults with necessary skills to have their say.

  4. Acknowledges that over 50 per cent of year 6 and year 10 students in the National Assessment Program sample believe that discussing politics is an important citizenship activity.

  5. Commends the important work of Tasmanian Schools, the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, the House of Assembly Education Office and the broader community in delivering civics and citizenship education.

  6. Encourages all Tasmanians, including young people, to take an interest in civics and citizenship and engage with the Parliament.

[5.50 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I, too, thank the member for Rosevears for bringing this motion forward. We all know how little is known of the Legislative Council. I think many times the word 'council' throws people out. When I have been out in the streets - and I try to go out when it is not election time and just talk to people - they say, 'Yes, you are on Launceston Council'. Obviously, the word 'Launceston' and word 'council' - the legislative part is missed out. It is confusing for people. Particularly if the parents do not know, obviously, it makes it hard for the students. Sometimes, the students can teach the parents.

I have taken to going to schools kitted up with a couple of little books. The Clerk might remember the little books we had - those little glossy Legislative Council books. They are quite old, so I have done my own version and updated it a little bit, and gone to grade 5 and 6 classes and spoken to them about the Legislative Council. The questions they ask are really quite interesting. They are interested.

Only two weeks ago, when I was doing McHappy Day at McDonalds at South Launceston, one of the young girls from McDonalds said, 'Yes, I remember you - you came to my class and talked about the Legislative Council' when she was at Summerdale Primary School. It was really interesting they had paid some attention, because it was a couple of years since I had been to Summerdale, but she had remembered I was on the Legislative Council and had spoken to the class. It is important whether it be primary school or senior school - they certainly learn.

Often, as you say, we see young people come through this place. They come from a variety of different schools. They are always interested. You have a chat with them outside and they are excited. I do not know whether it might be possible, Mr President, to actually put something together for them again, because when we had several classes here from Youngtown Primary recently, I put together an updated version of my leaflets for them so when they went back to their classrooms, they actually had something to discuss and go through in their lessons.

I did do an updated list of who all the members were, where they were from, what the upper House was about, how it started, the bicameral system - pretty much along the lines of the outdated booklet we had. It is really useful to give to the students. It was only probably four pages double‑sided but we printed it for them. At least when they go back to school after having been here - I know they get bookmarks and some things - it is something they can actually take back to their lessons and continue with.

It might be something worth considering - and it does not have to be expensive. The ones we did were simply a little bit of colour and a few sheets to give them information to continue with. I certainly appreciate the member for Rosevears raising it, because it is really important they understand what we do. Many people think there is only a House of parliament and when something goes through the lower House - and how often have you seen it in the local newspaper, when it says 'a bill has passed'. We think, 'No, it has not; it has not been to us yet', but it has been through the lower House and people assumed it has become law. So many people forget the relevance and importance of the upper House. They should be learning about politics totally, and I take note of the member for Windermere about the fact the federal parliament provided funding to -

Mr Dean - I understand they do, to schools, for them to visit.

Ms ARMITAGE - There is a fair cost to it when you consider families having to find the funding for students to come down. Often they do not just come down for one day. They might come down for a couple of days and try to incorporate other areas. There is accommodation, bus fares - it is quite a cost. Some people might not think it is very much. For a family with two or three children and all the other costs associated with families, it certainly is. It is worth considering. The Leader might like to discuss with her party whether there is some way to make it easier for schools to bring their classes down. Year 5 and year 6 classes, not just the senior schools.

I have only gone to year 5 and year 6 classes when I have spoken to primary schools. The children at that age are really interested. I am not sure whether you would gain the same interest going to the high schools, but the year 5 and 6 classes are really delighted.

Mrs Hiscutt - Through you, Mr President, parliamentary educators do take parliament to the schools and set up mock parliaments in their schools. That is a way of getting to places that are not so close to Hobart.

Ms ARMITAGE - It is, but it is more exciting for them to come down to the -

Mrs Hiscutt - Yes, but they do the education programs. But yes, I can see that it is very exciting.

Ms ARMITAGE - I understand that, but it is just like being at school. Everyone likes to get an excursion, to get out and come to somewhere like this. We take it for granted. For many other people coming down here it is a real experience, particularly children. Some of the teachers and aides who come with them are just as excited as the children. I support the motion. I think it is a very good motion.

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