With election day a little over a fortnight away, hundreds of thousands of young Australians are preparing to approach the polling booth and vote for the first time.
Around 800,000 people have joined the electoral roll since the last election, with nearly 130,000 of them coming from WA.
Joshua Watson from the Australian Electoral Commission is encouraging young Australians who may not know how to vote to do their research and not be afraid to ask for help.
“Should people be unsure about how to vote or the electoral processes, we have plenty of information on our website, and we also have heaps of people to answer any calls, as well as our staff at the polling booths,” he says.
Mr Watson says while the AEC is still looking for thousands of workers for election day, he is confident that the operation will run smoothly.
“When you walk into a polling place, you will be greeted by a queuing officer, who will direct you to which table. At the table, you have an issuing officer who will give your ballot papers after asking for your name, address and if you have voted yet.”
Mr Watson says voters are allowed to bring assistance to the polling booth.
The most recent report into civics in citizenship taught in school, conducted by the National Assessment Program, found that only 38 per cent of year 10 students had reached the proficient standard in being able to demonstrate core aspects of Australia’s political system and democracy.
Mr Watson says that while the AEC has a range of voter education content available online for young Australians, they can’t control what schools teach.
“We have partnerships where we do try to outreach to educational institutes, and we have a national education centre in Canberra that does have an advisory on what we can teach, but ultimately the curriculum and what is taught in schools, we don’t have a say and can’t control,” he says.
When asked if school students are being taught enough about the voting process, a spokesperson from the WA Department of Education said the humanities and social sciences curriculum educates students on Australia’s government and political system, from pre-primary to year ten.
The spokesperson says that ultimately schools individually decide on what else they choose to teach their students.
“Schools make decisions, based on their cohort of students, about what additional programs they offer and whether specific reports are covered.”