For more than twenty years The Constitution Education Fund has encouraged Australians to understand and celebrate their constitutional heritage. The Constitution Education Fund has been recognised for its record in delivering programs to school students and undergraduates.
STEVE WAUGH AO
Australian of the Year and Australian Test Cricket team captain, 1999-2004
In my travels playing cricket for Australia, I saw a number of countries without the freedoms we enjoy. These experiences brought home to me the importance of the Australian Constitution. The more Australians understand the important role played by our Constitution, the stronger we will be as a community.
THOMAS KENEALLY AO
Author and former member of CEFA Board of Trustees
We’ve got something to celebrate, Australia. Our democracy, our freedom, our system...our Australian Way. “The Australian Way” film, CEFA, 2010-2014.
EMERITUS PROFESSOR DAME LEONIE KRAMER AC DBE, CEFA Foundation Councillor
Chancellor of the University of Sydney, 1991–2001, member of CEFA Board of Trustees 2000-2009
CEFA’s mission is to strengthen the Australian community’s understanding of the history and operation of the Australian Constitution... The success of the CEFA project will demonstrate our faith in the Constitution and our commitment to passing on a solid understanding of it to our successors.
PROFESSOR GREG CRAVEN
Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University
Bigger than the Big Australian and more lasting than any economic boom, the Constitution is the greatest asset we have ... CEFA will work in a strongly non-partisan way to enrich the understanding of Australians of their greatest asset; their Constitution.
MAJOR GENERAL THE HON. MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC (RETD), CEFA Board of Trustees Chair
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2003–08
I firmly believe that all Australians, young and old, those born here and those who have come from other lands, should have a broad understanding of the system of government that has made our country one of the most successful democracies in the world. I hope that you will consider either participating in, or supporting this cause. By doing so you will be helping to give all Australians – especially our leaders of tomorrow – a greater appreciation of a system of government and a Constitution that has played a vital part in making Australia a country of which we can all be rightly proud.
PROFESSOR GEORGE WINTERTON, CEFA Board of Trustees 2000-2008
Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Sydney, 2004-2008
The advent of CEFA [is] a propitious development…. [CEFA’s] project is so important to Australia’s future that governments and the public should have little difficulty in seeing its benefits. Those responsible for establishing CEFA deserve our gratitude and support for undertaking this long-overdue initiative.
THE HON. JOHN HOWARD OM AC
Prime Minister of Australia, 1996-2007
As a pioneer of democracy amongst free nations, Australia is one of the few countries to have been continuously democratic throughout the course of the twentieth century. Australia’s Constitution is the foundation of our system of government. It is uniquely Australian, shaped by Australians whose vision for this country embraced the democratic values and principles which still unite us today. Educational initiatives that raise awareness and improve understanding about Australia’s system of government and how it operates play a vital part in making us as a nation better informed about our constitutional heritage and better equipped to determine our future. I commend the Constitution Education Fund for encouraging Australians to learn more about the Constitution and our system of government.
GENERAL THE HON. SIR PETER COSGROVE AK MC (RETD), CEFA’s Patron-In-Chief
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
On behalf of all Australians, I congratulate CEFA for all that it has achieved since 1995.
THE HON. MURRAY GLEESON AC QC
Chief Justice of Australia, 1998-2008
The idea of promoting awareness and interest in our Constitution, especially among undergraduate students, is excellent. The Governor-General’s Prize and the conscious promotion in the community—and in particular to universities—of an interest in and understanding of the Constitution is a very worthy project. I am delighted to participate in it.
THE HON. ROBERT FRENCH AC
Chief Justice of Australia 2008-2017
Justices of the High Court have been pleased to participate on the judging panels since the (Governor-General’s Prize) competition was established. We all recognise the importance of effective civics education in Australia and a deeper appreciation by young Australians of their Constitution in the 21st century. On the tenth anniversary of the Governor-General’s Prize, I would like to congratulate CEFA for establishing the competition… The competition is well established. Long may it continue.
PROFESSOR GILLIAN TRIGGS
Former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission
The Governor-General’s Prize provides a brilliant opportunity for undergraduate students to display their original thinking on contemporary issues. The use of the classical essay form to provide refreshing, even startling, perspectives on matters of public debate, is a perfect vehicle for expressing the ideas and energy that young Australians bring to community life.
THE HON. SIR WILLIAM DEANE AC KBE QC
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1996–2001
The Governor-General’s Prize Programme is an outstanding initiative. It will make a significant contribution to Australia’s awareness and understanding of our Constitution, our system of government and their history and working. By doing that, the Programme will serve the interests of the Australian people generally.
DR TOM CALMA AO and MELINDA CILENTO
Former Co-Chairs of Reconciliation Australia
The Constitution Education Fund Australia has, as its mission, the aim of educating all Australians about their Constitution, and the system of government that operates under it. Educating Australians about their Constitution is essential for ensuring that all Australians cast an informed vote at a referendum, and thus is vital to the success of a referendum to recognise Indigenous Australians. We are delighted that CEFA has used the Governor-General's Prize as an opportunity for encouraging young Australians to engage with a range of issues surrounding Indigenous people and the Constitution. The more we talk about these issues in an intelligent and calm way, the more Australians will come to appreciate the real issues that are at stake. And so it is with great pride that we have sponsored the tenth Governor-General's Prize.
National Managing Partner of Baker & McKenzie, CEFA’s Principal Partner 2013-14
In our fiftieth year as a global law firm in Australia, Baker & McKenzie is delighted to be the Principal Partner of the Constitution Education Fund Australia, and to join with CEFA in celebrating the tenth year of the Governor-General's Prize. This year, the Governor-General's Prize has been sponsored by Reconciliation Australia. We applaud CEFA for this initiative, and for encouraging undergraduates to learn more about their Constitution, and its significance in the context of the current movement towards recognition of Indigenous Australians. Accordingly, Baker & McKenzie is proud to support CEFA's mission to educate all Australians about their Constitution and system of government.
THE HON. PETER GARRETT AM
Minister for School Education, 2010-13
I very much welcome the terrific national civics education that the CEFA has been providing to young Australians since 1995. In particular I am impressed by the pioneering civics education outreach projects CEFA is running for Australian schools... It is essential for the Australian democracy that citizens understand the value and freedom of our right to vote. I believe that politicians and educators have a duty to do everything possible to ensure each and every young Australian in every community is an informed and participating citizen now and in the future. CEFA in partnership with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is providing practical experiences on the history and workings of our democracy.
THE HON. DAME QUENTIN BRYCE AD CVO, former CEFA’s Patron-In-Chief
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2008-14
What a splendid concept, to empower young Australians to become active, engaged and responsible citizens. Through providing a variety of projects and awards aimed at students between the ages of 8 to 25, [CEFA is] helping to educate and inspire our country’s future leaders. We are a young country, but a strong one; a multicultural nation brought together by our democratic values and Constitution. In our fast-paced and globalised world, it is vital that all young Australians understand our governance systems, to enable them to participate effectively in current and future political discussions. In the words of Nelson Mandela: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Assistant Director, Communication Products & Services, Australian Electoral Commission (2008)
Thank you for the opportunity! Really enjoyed seeing the school parliaments in action and outlining the steps to achieve this. The principles and approach taken by CEFA is closely aligned to that of the AEC. I'm sure that we will have further talks about how our two organisations can work together more closely to achieve a common goal.
PETER LINDSAY MP
Former Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and CEFA Board Member
Letter to CEFA Re 2006 Inquiry into Civics and Electoral Education
On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, I write to thank you for your assistance in nominating schools in Sydney for the Committee’s inquiry into civics and electoral education. These schools visits, held across the country, have provided an invaluable source of evidence for the inquiry and have given the Members an appreciation of the significant work being carried out in the field of civics and citizenship education. The Committee found the students of the schools you nominated to be informed, interested and inquisitive and the teachers to be dedicated professionals, committed to finding inspiring and critical ways to teach civics and electoral units. The Committee was particularly impressed with the culture of these schools, which clearly place a strong emphasis on the traditions of Australian democracy. The Committee is also appreciative of the work the Constitution Education Fund Australia has undertaken across Australian schools to promote democracy and active citizenship.
DAME ELISABETH MURDOCH
CEFA Foundation Council
On behalf of the Foundation Council, and as an Australian, I am proud to invite you to support what may well be our most important task.
Principal, Gilroy College, Castle Hill, (2008)
I’ve been really impressed by The Parliamentary Club this year. It’s been one of those things that has really snowballed. I think it is absolutely brilliant.
Coordinator, The Parliamentary Club Grace Lutheran College, Queensland (2009)
A fantastic experience! Would be delighted to come as a guest speaker for any future forums etc. Thanks for this great initiative Don!
Principal, St Joseph’s Catholic High School (2009)
The Parliamentary Club has been a fantastic initiative in terms of the school and to see so many students involved and passionate about politics and also about events in the world. They are interested in having a voice and sharing their perspective on the world around them.
Former Federal Member of Parliament (Petrie) (2009)
The Parliamentary Club is a great way to get young people involved in the political system. Not only do students learn about the value of our democracy, and how the Westminster system works, they also learn public speaking skills and teamwork.
STUART HENRY MP
Member for Hasluck (WA) (2008)
Thank you for bringing to my attention this exciting new initiative being offered by the Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEFA). I too am very interested in raising awareness and improving the understanding of both our constitution and Australia’s system of government. It is of great importance that our youth become both interested and openly active when regarding issues that concern us as a society and also that they learn the fundamentals of our democratic processes. I hope that this initiative is undertaken by schools, and that the benefits of doing so is noted.
JENNIE GEORGE MP
Federal Member of Parliament (Throsby) (2009)
The Parliamentary Club reflects an ability to relate to the real world. It has a real appreciation of the importance of the parliamentary process. It engages debate with particular reference to national and international issues such as poverty and inequality in a very intelligent and rational way.
RYAN J. KERNAGHAN
School Captain, Speaker, House of Representatives, St. Joseph's Catholic High School (2005)
The Parliamentary Club has made a lasting impression on the school community, promulgating its image for future incarnations. My position as its first Speaker has been a true honour. I wish the club and its dedicated members every success in the future.
THE HON JULIA GILLARD MP
Prime Minister, 2010-13
Participation in The Parliamentary Clubs would give students opportunities to develop ‘an understanding of, and commitment to, Australia’s democratic system of government, law and civics life’ and ‘the knowledge, skills and values that support active citizenship and the capacity to act as informed and responsible citizens’; both of which are highlighted in the Statements of Learning.
JOSHUA QUINN-WATSON (2008)
Winner of the 2008 Governor-General’s Undergraduate Essay Competition
CEFA's 2008 Governor-General's Essay Competition has been a significant moment in my academic life. Of particular pleasure was the opportunity to engage with a judging panel on which sat some of Australia's finest minds. As far as I am aware, no other student competition has panels of this calibre, and also allows students direct access to that panel. Thinking critically about the this country's national life is something from which students of every discipline stand to benefit, and I recommend that all interested students take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to discuss the national life with a group of people who do as much as anyone to shape it.
Winner of the 2009 Governor-General’s Prize
The Governor-General's Undergraduate Essay Competition gave me the 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to discuss ideas fundamental to Australia's political life with an eminent panel chaired by The Hon Robert French AC, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. This was an incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone. The wide choice and pertinence of the questions offered by CEFA means there is bound to be something too for students with an interest in our nation. The questions encourage a multidisciplinary approach and accommodate a diverse range of papers.
Personally, I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to explain and justify the arguments in my paper to such an eminent panel. However, the most rewarding aspect of this experience was to respond to the questions posed by the panelists. Given the breadth and depth of the panel's knowledge, the questions often came from unexpected angles. This was a great challenge but fostered in me a deeper understanding of the topic and a greater appreciation of its relationship with broader issues. For me, this was an opportunity that I could not let pass.
Second Place in the 2009 Governor-General’s Prize
I'm so glad I took up the challenge of entering the 2009 Governor-General's Undergraduate Essay Competition. I appreciated the opportunity to engage with the nationally significant issue of whether Chinese investment could be damaging to Australia's interests. Participating in this competition stimulated me to pursue further research in this area. Discussing Australia's political and economic future with such a distinguished panel was a great privilege.
University of Tasmania (2006)
I believe this is an exciting and challenging opportunity for undergraduates like me. There is so much to learn about Australia’s Constitution – taking part in the Governor-General’s Prize is a great way to expand your knowledge and express your opinions.
NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office (2008)
Australians want to contribute to our prized democratic country. This requires knowledge about our Constitution. As the daughter of an Italian immigrant family, an active member of my local ALP branch, and a community lawyer, I meet young Australians from a diverse range of backgrounds. Not all of them know a lot about the Constitution. This initiative will encourage all students to learn more about the Constitution.
MICHAEL KEENAN MP
Member for Stirling (WA) (2008)
I encourage you to consider implementing this innovative and exciting new initiative to promote civics and citizenship education. The last three years of pilot programs around Australia have been an enormous success in both primary and secondary schools. I look forward to this new generation of Australians being the most knowledgeable and active citizens in our nation’s history.
PROFESSOR GABRIEL MOENS
Dean of Murdoch University Law School (2005)
Murdoch Law School offers its students an intellectually stimulating educational experience in order to prepare them for the domestic and international practice of law. The Governor-General’s Undergraduate Essay Competition is a worthy challenge for top students wishing to address topical issues of constitutional law or public policy. I was delighted that the first Western Australians to achieve success at the highest level of the competition were Pauline German and Sarah Lealiifano from Murdoch University in 2005.
DR BRENDON NELSON MP
Member for Bradfield (NSW) (2005)
This project seeks to create a new generation of young people who are passionate about the future of their country and who believe they can make a difference. The Parliamentary Club aims to produce politically aware young people committed to becoming active members of our democratic society and influential leaders in the future.
Inquiry Secretary, Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (2008)
My own belief is that when schools are clearly making such a great effort to teach civics and electoral education, it should be promoted.
Programs Officer, History Teachers Association of Victoria (2008)
Thanks for your fantastic contribution to the AGORA (History Teachers Association of Victoria) journal, it really gives the edition some pedagogical weight! I hope you will write for us again soon.
Miss World Australia 2008, CEFA School Parliaments (CSPs) Ambassador
I feel that it is imperative for our younger generation to immerse themselves in the processes governing Australian society. Civics education is the key to producing a generation that possesses democratic attitudes, and therefore, education plays a significant role in maintaining the strong system that we have. CEFA School Parliaments (CSPs) provide young Australians with the opportunity to understand their government, they also allow them to have a voice and to action their ideas.
Australian Electoral Office State Manager NSW (2008)
“The presentation was nothing short of dynamic, it gave me great confidence in the ability of our young people and our education system to communicate and embrace the fundamental, aspects of our democracy in a practical and realistic way”.
SUPPORT FOR AN AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTION CENTRE (ACC)
There is much support in the community for the ACC to provide measurable improvement in the knowledge, understanding, attitudes and engagement of Australians in the history, heritage and operation of the Australian Constitution.
PROFESSOR GEORGE WILLIAMS AO
Anthony Mason Professor, Scientia Professor, ARC Laureate Fellow, Foundation Director, Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law
Australian democracy is healthy in many respects, but one problem is the lack of knowledge Australians have about their Constitution. The proposal to establish a digital, educational Australian Constitution Centre with an exhibit in the Museum of Australian Democracy is an exciting initiative that could remedy this. I give it my strong support, and am delighted that it is being proposed by the Constitution Education Fund Australia, which has a long-standing track record of effective education about these issues.
JOE DE BRUYN
National President Shop Distributive & Allied Employees’ Association
I strongly agree with the proposal to build an Australian Constitution Centre.
It is vital that all Australians, especially our young citizens, understand the Australian Constitution and appreciate how it underpins our freedoms and our democracy. Respect for government and the judicial process can only be built on knowledge and understanding of the Constitution of our nation.
Chairman Cape York Group
The new Australian Constitution Centre will have an important role to play in educating the public about the need for Indigenous constitutional recognition. Australians should be aware of the triumphs of our constitutional heritage, as well as the injustices. Learning from this history, we can find ways to become a fairer and more inclusive nation. We stand on the cusp of bringing the three parts of our national story together: our ancient Indigenous heritage, our British inheritance and our multicultural triumph. This reconciliation will make us a more complete commonwealth.
Former Joint Campaign Director for Recognise
CEFA is to be commended on its goal to make the Constitution 'a living experience, connecting people to the old, new, past and present'. As the nation heads towards its next referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution, we know important groundwork must be laid to build public understanding of this historic opportunity for the nation. The idea of an Australian Constitution Centre has the potential to make a significant contribution to this groundwork, particularly if it expands online resources about the Constitution and includes a theme promoting awareness and understanding of the importance of this coming referendum for all Australians.
THE HON BARRIE UNSWORTH, member of CEFA Board of Directors 2006-2014
Former NSW Premier
As a former director of CEFA (2006-2014), I am delighted the longstanding proposal to establish an ACC looks close to implementation. In many CEFA Board meeting, I emphasised how lucky we are as Australians to live in a peaceful and stable democracy compared to the political upheavals in so many countries overseas. I am appalled that Australians do not value our Constitution and our system of government and that support for it continues to go down.
The proposed ACC should go a long way to reverse such dangerous trends.
PROFESSOR HELEN IRVING, FASSA, FAAL
Faculty of Law, University of Sydney
More than twenty years ago, when I began my research on the making of Australia’s Constitution, I became aware of several very important things: how little was understood about Australia’s constitutional history; how many myths and misunderstandings surrounded it; and how important it is to the understanding of Australian democracy in the present. One thing really stood out: few people realised that Australia was a pioneer of democracy and that its Constitution was, and remains, a state-of-the-art framework for democratic government. Among the Constitution’s greatest strengths is that it is not ideological. It does not attempt to impose “values” on Australians or dictate an approved national “identity”. It creates institutions of self-government that allow Australians to pass laws as they see fit, subject only to the structural principles of democracy, the separation of powers, and federalism. It allows people of very different political persuasions to govern cooperatively. It does not mandate either conservative or progressive politics, and nor does it favour any particular sector of Australian society. Ignorance about our constitutional system and the spreading of myths (whether to condemn or praise) about its character remain; they are a source of deep concern in Australian life today. I would strongly support an initiative of this nature, which I understand to be politically-neutral in its goal of increasing Australians’ knowledge of our democratic system and, without coercion, encouraging their participation in civic and political life, if they choose.
Businesswoman, author, actor, poet and former member of CEFA Board of Trustees
I am proud to have been involved with, and a supporter of, the Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEFA) for over a decade. CEFA's current proposal: "to establish a digital, educational Australian Constitution Centre (ACC) with an exhibit in the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MoADOPH) and a digital online site that will include a virtual library with supporting resources", has enormous value to encourage, enrich and improve, the nation's general comprehension of how our current government evolved from the first brave, steps towards the freedom of the individual and the growth of democracy (Magna Carta, Bill of Rights etc) into that of the Constitutional Monarchy under which we live freely, today. Children especially need to be aware of what freedom means; what civics and citizenship means; how and why we are governed as we are; how and why we respect the rule of law, the English language, the rights of all Australians whatever our ancestry, and indeed, one another. Citizens can only make informed judgements when they understand what the Westminster System of Government provides for us. I believe it is not a coincidence that Australia has endured as a free, democratic nation. However there appears to be a current need for explanation and CEFA is competent, professional, ready and able to render this service to our country.
DR LIBBY TUDBALL
President, Social and Citizenship Educators Association of Australia
SCEAA supports the development of a Virtual Library Directory (VLD) with the purpose of linking resources and key stakeholders/collaborators in civics and citizenship centrally. SCEAA sees a need for a centrally co-ordinated library directory that is easily searchable and references all key stakeholders.
Through its members, SCEAA will work collaboratively with the ACC in developing educational initiatives and programs that raise awareness and improve understanding about Australia's system of government, civics and citizenship experiences, civic engagement, development of understanding, and best pedagogical practice and approaches for future delivery.
National committee members have extensive expertise in civics and citizenship will contribute in the development of the collection and dissemination through workshops and other forms of professional learning and though members organisations’ websites.