Thursday 30 October 2014
For immediate release

Breaking down barriers to voting within African communities

L–R (back row): Nyandeng Ayul, Acigor Majok, Beyene Weldegiorgis, Mayom Maketh, Peter Pal, Aguer Rual, Guil Deng, Matoc Achol, Adut Dharuai.
L–R (front row): Asvin Phorugngam (program co-ordinator), Ibrahim Ali, Tadros Tasfo, Etimad Jaffer, Nasteha Mohamud, Veronica Bar, Asunta Majur, Amil Hana, Abdinasir Ahmed, Andrew O'huli.

More than 1000 people from new and emerging communities have already participated in outreach sessions, as part of the recent rollout of the Democracy Ambassador program for the 2014 State election.

The Democracy Ambassador program is a Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) initiative in partnership with Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV).

The program aims to break down some of the barriers to effective participation, such as low English language skills, lack of familiarity with the Australian voting and parliamentary systems, or negative experiences from their country of origin.

Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately, AM, said: ‘For some participants this election will be their first experience of enrolling and voting in an election. For others it will be the first time that they have a real understanding of what it’s all about and how elections work’.

As part of the program, a group of community educators from communities across the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia), Sudan and South Sudan are trained to deliver sessions with the aim of increasing electoral enrolment, political literacy and civic participation among African Australians living in Victoria.

Community educator Etimad Jaffer said: ‘I enjoy helping people within my community to get involved in Victoria’s elections. It’s rewarding to hear about how I’ll be helping some women, now in their fifties or sixties, to vote for the first time’.

Community educators are available to provide free information sessions about voting at any local community event. Sessions can be booked by contacting the VEC Outreach and Engagement Officer Asvin Phorugngam at asvin.phorugngam@vec.vic.gov.au or on 8620 1185.

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Community educators are available for interview. High resolution photos are also available if required.

       

Media enquiries:
Mary Sammut
Communication Officer
Victorian Electoral Commission
Phone: (03) 8620 1190
Email: mary.sammut@vec.vic.gov.au