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Law Council Submission on the Inquiry into Civics Education, Engagement and Participation

4 July 2024

On 18 June 2024, the Law Council provided a comprehensive submission in response to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into Civics Education, Engagement, and Participation in Australia.

The Law Council’s submission primarily focussed on civics knowledge in Australia in respect of First Nations histories and cultures, and the importance of civics education, engagement, and participation to the health and sustainability of a functioning democracy.

We made a number of recommendations to the Standing Committee on what measures can be taken to improve civics education, engagement, and participation in Australia. In particular, the Law Council recommends that:

  1. The Department of Education engage with state and territory curriculum authorities to identify ways to achieve national alignment. This is to avoid students having to receive uneven instructions in civics and citizenship education.
  2. The Australian Curriculum should be more prescriptive in respect of First Nations histories and cultures to solidify the knowledge base in this respect and promote greater cultural understanding. The curriculum should include references to important First Nations concepts, legal frameworks, case law and associated documents.
  3. The Australian Curriculum should integrate source evaluation skills in Australian Curriculum to combat misinformation and disinformation.
  4. Australia ensure younger people are actively included in democratic processes.
  5. Australian enhance First Nations participations in elections by investing in mobile and telephone polling services, transport assistance, increasing voter education programs, and providing language assistance and culturally sensitive materials.
  6. Australia implements truth-telling mechanisms as an important means to enable a greater knowledge of First Nations histories and cultures for all Australians.
  7. Australia collaborate with other western democratic nations to facilitate the exchange of best practices and strategies in improving civics education and combatting misinformation and disinformation.

The Law Council is grateful for the contributions received from its Indigenous Legal Issues Committee, National Human Rights Committee, the Law Society of New South Wales and the Law Society of South Australia to this submission.

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