Press Release: 22 March 2013
Launching the new CEFA website earlier today, the Executive Director Mrs Kerry Jones said:
"Our new education campaign 'Celebrating the Australian Way’ intends to engage Australians in our Constitution and democracy to achieve a more knowledgeable, and involved voter and citizen. The future of our great Australian community depends on each one of us understanding our democracy, its history and being a participant in it.
Our Constitution defines our nationhood and unites all Australians. It provides the basis of our laws, our governments, our institutions and our freedoms. Unlike many countries in the world past and present we have never had a civil war. We achieved the Commonwealth of Australia through a peaceful coming together when we voted for Federation in 1901. Yet research shows many voters today don’t value our Constitution or our democracy. In the 2010 Federal election more than three million Australians entitled to vote did not exercise their franchise and over 50 per cent of young Australians do not understand what democracy means. Our parliamentary democracy depends at each election on each of us casting an informed vote and valuing it. In our democracy, agreement of views is not always necessary, however robust debate followed by resolution through our vote is. Thus the urgency and rationale for CEFA’s latest education campaign.”
Visitors engaging with constitutional conversations on the new CEFA website can blog along with two CEFA directors. Prominent actress, author and business woman, Mrs Joy Chambers-Grundy argues compulsory voting impinges on our freedom. Former NSW Labor Premier, Barrie Unsworth describes the protections to our democracy compulsory voting brings. Visitors can vote, take a quiz, tweet, follow us on Facebook, Youtube and subscribe to our newsfeed. Join eminent Australians on ‘constitutional conversations we have to have’. Former Governor-General Michael Jeffery discusses the importance of soil and water management. Tanya Hosch discusses a referendum to advance reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Leading constitutional lawyer Professor George Williams contributes his article Eleventh hour for action to change federal funding to local councils. Our campaign competition encourages watching the CEFA video The Australian Way’scripted by director and eminent author Tom Keneally. Individuals contribute their own view on what issue/s and value/s they consider most significant to the modern Australian democracy. Participants can also join with exciting CEFA 2013 projects. In schools these include parliaments and Yaba, the civics and citizenship Commonwealth Government funded social media resource website. For universities, there is the well-established Governor-General's Undergraduate Essay Competition. For the first time CEFA supporters can contribute online tax-deductible donations.
14 February 2013
"Yesterday's passing of the Act of Recognition with bi partisan support is likely to be recorded as one of the most significant days in Australia's nationhood since federation" stated CEFA's Executive Director Mrs Kerry Jones earlier today. In a historical sitting of the House of Representatives the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition were united in welcoming the push for a referendum on whether the Australian Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders should be recognized in the Australian Constitution.
Many commentators have described the consensus amongst the politicians as unusual and unprecedented and even as inspiring towards a referendum that may well achieve a yes vote higher than the 1967 referendum that recognized the right to vote for indiginous Australians.
Prime Minister Gillard recognized the Australian Constitution belongs to the people of Australia and The Leader of the Opposition Mr Abbott indicated a referendum on this issue is not so much about changing the Constitution but completing an unfinished part.
Mrs Jones added "CEFA looks forward to playing a leading education role in the lead up to the referendum which is likely to occur in the next term of the Federal Government. As continually stated in yesterday's historic debates most Australians don't know much about our Constitution and yet want to be informed and engaged voters on issues effecting our nationhood and national identity.
CEFA's duty is to provide this education through whatever means possible using the latest in communication and campaign tools to reach all Australians.
8 October 2012
Above: The Final Judging Panel of the Governor-General's Undergraduate Essay Competition for 2012 at the High Court of Australia (Sydney). (L-R) Mrs. Kerry Jones (CEFA Executive Director), Mr. Andrew Salgo (Partner, Baker & McKenzie), Justice William Gummow AC (Chair), Professor Fiona Wheeler (Professor of Law and Associate Dean of the ANU College of Law, ANU), Mr. Stephen Gageler SC (Solicitor-General & High Court Justice-Designate), Professor Simon Evans (Professor of Law, University of Melbourne)
Congratulations to all the finalists who participated in the final judging of the Governor-General's Undergraduate Essay Competition. Results will be released soon so watch this space!