Young people as Future Voters

By Amy Carpenter – VEC Passport to Democracy Coordinator

Ceramic figures of suffragettes

Teenagers are often presented as apathetic and uninterested about anything remotely political. It’s a stereotype that prevails despite examples of activism and engagement we see being led by teens. However, it is a stereotype which is, sadly, supported by voting statistics.

In the last State election only 85.26% of 18-29 year-olds voted (compared to 90.16% of voters in general), dropping from 88.13% in 2014. This is despite a rise in personal activism (such as going vegan, volunteering, and boycotting organisations whose ethics don’t align with their personal beliefs) and participation in group activism activities like protests (such as the ‘climate strikes’ and ‘Change the Date’ marches), petitions and social media campaigns.

In response to these trends, the National Council of Women (NCW) invited students from schools all across Victoria to speak at their annual My Voice, My Vote event on the topic ‘Male and Female Youth as Future Voters’. I was also fortunate enough to be invited as the keynote speaker, which allowed me to watch the students present their ideas for greater engagement in the voting space.

The students spoke passionately about the need for more diversity in Parliament, a lowered voting age, and richer and more widespread civic education. While the first two are out of the VEC’s hands, it’s encouraging that there remains a deeply felt need for the education programs currently which are available for schools, community groups, disability services and students learning English as an additional language.

To have a truly effective working democracy, we need citizens to have a good working understanding of their role within that democracy. We look forward to helping your students develop this understanding, through our free education programs. Get in touch to find out more.

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