In 2020–21, the VEC adapted several of its community education programs to different formats for people under-represented in the voting process. By working to specific targets listed within its several inclusion plans, the VEC progressed with its education and inclusion objectives despite some unusual challenges.
The VEC launched its Young People Inclusion Plan (YPIP) 2021–23 in June 2021. This addresses the lower electoral participation of young people compared to other age groups. The YPIP includes meaningful and achievable actions such as establishing a Young People Advisory Group, supporting the employment of young people at elections and the VEC generally, and targeted research with young people to gather evidence for the design of engagement programs.
The VEC’s main electoral education program for young people, Passport to Democracy (PTD) evolved to be primarily delivered online via virtual classrooms, reaching 23,519 students over the 2020-21 financial year.
The VEC’s Multicultural Inclusion Plan (MIP) is in its second year of implementation and addresses the needs of Victoria’s growing population of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) voters. For example, during 2020-21 the VEC produced and promoted a variety of in-language videos to explain not only the voting process for the 2020 local government elections, but also what non-voters needed to know if they hadn’t voted; these videos were very well received. Also provided were translated versions of the online enrolment form and interpreters at electoral education sessions.
The MIP also ensures the workforce is reflective of, and responsive to, the community it serves. This is through actions such as recruiting and training community members to deliver electoral education sessions and delivering sponsorships for active citizenship leadership programs.
The VEC’s Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP) is also in its second year of implementation. The DAIP reflects the VEC’s commitment to engage with people with disabilities from various communities under-represented in Victoria’s democracy. For example, each year the VEC sponsors students with disabilities to participate in YMCA Victoria’s Youth Parliament. The VEC also supports and encourages staff with lived experience of disability to share their stories. User experience testing of the VEC’s public-facing websites and review and redesign of resources such as building audit forms have also improved accessibility outcomes for the VEC’s customers.
Consultations have already begun for the VEC’s next Aboriginal Inclusion Plan and its first ever Out-of-Home Action Plan, aimed at supporting the democratic participation of people experiencing homelessness or incarceration.
For the 2020 local government elections, the VEC collaborated with social enterprise ‘HoMie’ to produce over 500 VEC-branded socks, which were distributed with No-Fixed-Address enrolment forms to vulnerable Victorians during the winter. The VEC also established a freecall 1800 number. This free call number was promoted on free facemasks distributed to clients at a range of homelessness services across Victoria.
In May 2021, the VEC formed a new Aboriginal Advisory Group, comprising of 9 highly respected Aboriginal elders and leaders from across Victoria. The VEC has also continued its sponsorship of the Korin Gamadji Institute Richmond Emerging Aboriginal Leadership (REAL) program.
The VEC would like to thank all its advisory group members for their commitment, time and advice during this extraordinary year.