28 March 2014
by Mrs Janet Doyle, CEFA’s recently appointed Director of Schools
“Harmony Day 21 March is a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home – from the traditional owners of this land to those who have come from many countries around the world. By participating in Harmony Day activities, we can learn and understand how all Australians from diverse backgrounds equally belong to this nation and enrich it.”
Last week students in schools throughout Australia wore orange, decorated hands, made paper chains of little people, and in many cases collected gold coin donations for a charity of the schools choosing. Do we adults, however, take time to think how our children celebrating Harmony Day is giving meaning to their individual lives? It is easy to ignore what is happening within the school gate but for our children they are connecting home, community and school in ways we take for granted. My two young girls have, from a young age, been exposed to conversations about national pride and the importance of our Constitution and Democracy. My daughter, just turned seven and in year two, embraced harmony day at her school. Her teachers discussed how lucky we are in Australia and how there is suffering and poverty overseas. To add to a rather rowdy discussion my daughter put up her hand and said “we are lucky in Australia because we have democracy and voting and other countries do not”. Her teachers asked her to come to the front of the year group and expand on her thoughts which quietened the other students. I now realise that the conversations each day in the car or over dinner, have made an amazing impact.
Harmony Day is an important day in the school calendar. It addresses equality and inclusion in the school and community. It is also a reflection of the good Aussie values, attitudes and beliefs we impart to our children on a daily basis. The power of every conversation we have is forming the community in which we live. That gold coin donation, crazy orange t-shirt and colouring in of hands are more than symbols of a single day. Through celebrating Harmony Day with our children we are acknowledging Australia’s freedom under our great democracy where all people as one can share our nationhood.
21 March 2014
CEFA is proud to announce that we have put in a submission to the Australian Government Curriculum Review. CEFA believes C & C needs to be successfully taught in every school and every classroom to every student throughout Australia. There is very poor C & C student knowledge currently as shown in research such as the Youth Electoral Studies, the 2012 Lowy Institute report and the results of Government C & C knowledge testing. Teachers themselves lack knowledge of important topics essential to be taught to all ages in schools such as how voting works in Australia and the value of each person’s vote, the rule of law, the workings of the Westminster-based parliamentary system, Australia’s three levels of government, how systems of government work, the making of bills and the passing of legislation, the history of Federation and the importance of the Constitution in topical debate issues of the day and the history and traditions of our democracy.
CEFA has been working on school’s projects such as Parliaments in Schools, yaba.edu.au, and many other practical delivery projects and resources since 1995. CEFA projects provide practical curriculum support to young Australians and their teachers. Our Review argues CEFA is best placed to deliver ongoing exciting, engaging lessons, units and topics of work to deliver a world-class national C & C curriculum. CEFA projects utilise all possible available teaching tools that deliver the skills and knowledge required for students to become active participants in the Australian democracy. CEFA projects focus on improving schools and students outcomes so that future C & C assessment testing will show substantial improvement in skills, knowledge, engagement , interest and understanding.
The new Federal Minister of Education the Hon. Mr Christopher Pyne MP has commissioned a review of the Australian Curriculum welcoming input into how the curriculum is and should be taught in schools. CEFA Executive Director, Mrs Jones was delighted to receive a personal letter from the Federal Minister of Education expressing his commitment to the implementation of a ‘world class, national curriculum’.
At the request of the Minister and the Prime Minister, CEFA is submitting to the review a paper outlining the importance of education about the Constitution, history and process of our democracy and rule of law and the importance of young Australians learning skills such as becoming willing and informed voters.
CEFA is recommending to the Review and that as a part of the Australian Curriculum CEFA wants to ensure C & C delivery to every teacher and students in every classroom of Australia and to play our part in the new Government move back to a more content focused curriculum with practical resource support.
7 February 2014
CEFA is delighted to announce that the Hon. Justice Susan Kiefel AC, of the High Court of Australia, has agreed to chair the judging panel for this year’s essay competition. In its tenth year, the 2013-14 undergraduate essay competition for the Governor-General’s Prize is supported by Reconciliation Australia, and offers students the opportunity to research and discuss various topics related to constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.
In 2004, the Governor-General’s Prize was launched by Chief Justice Gleeson at Parliament House, Sydney, and each year it has been judged by a panel chaired by a Justice of the High Court:
2004: The Hon Justice Dyson Heydon AC
2005:The Hon Justice Ian Callinan AC
2006:The Hon Justice Susan Crennan AC
2007: The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG
2008: The Hon Justice Dyson Heydon AC
2009: The Hon Chief Justice French AC
2010: The Hon Justice Virginia Bell AC
2011:The Hon Justice William Gummow AC
2012:The Hon Justice Kenneth Hayne AC
A major event will be held later this year to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Governor-General’s Prize.
“The Governor-General’s Prize is one of the most prestigious essay competitions in Australia for undergraduates,” said CEFA’s Executive Director, Mrs Kerry Jones, “and we are very excited about our plans for celebrating the tenth anniversary, details of which will be released shortly.”
Damien Freeman has been appointed as the Director of the Governor-General’s Prize, and will be responsible both for administering the 2013-14 undergraduate essay competition, and the reception to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Prize.
For further details, please see the Governor-General’s Prize website (www.ggessaycomp.com.au) or contact Phuong Van in the CEFA office.