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Undertaking public awareness activities

To support an Australian community that is well informed about electoral matters, the AEC delivers education, community engagement and communication activities.

All Australian citizens aged 18 years and over are required by law to enrol and vote. Ensuring Australians know and understand this right and obligation requires the AEC to engage with the community and provide information and advice to all eligible voters.

The National Training and Education Unit (NTEU) leads and coordinates AEC internal training and electoral education to external audiences. Schools can visit the National Electoral Education Centre (NEEC) in Canberra for electoral education programs. The AEC for Schools website provides free educational resources and programs, including election materials to run school elections. Professional learning is provided to teachers to encourage electoral education in primary and secondary schools. The NEEC continues to run at full capacity, and in 2018–19 the Get Voting website had over 19,000 visitors and sent 521 election packs to schools to run school elections.

The AEC provides information and advice to voters, including those with diverse needs. Education and communication initiatives are in place to meet the needs of Australians with disability. Community engagement aims to increase electoral knowledge, enrolment, turnout and vote formality through targeted activities.

The Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP) delivers culturally appropriate services to Indigenous Australians to support Indigenous electoral participation.

Under section 7(1)(fa) of the Electoral Act the AEC assists international electoral management bodies. Help is provided by deploying AEC officers overseas, delivering international training programs, and hosting international counterparts visiting Australia. These activities further strengthen our international relationships. Together with international partners, the AEC delivers the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) professional development program.

Highlights of the year

Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP)

IEPP services are delivered Australia-wide through partnerships with community groups and other government agencies. In 2018–19 IEPP services supported Indigenous electoral participation in all six by-elections and implemented the national plan for the 2019 federal election.

Cultural awareness training and staff development continued as part of the AEC’s Reconciliation Action Plan. Information on the AEC’s Indigenous Employment Strategy is in section 5.

Electors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

In the lead up to both the NSW State Election in March and the 2019 federal election, the AEC worked with the NSW Electoral Commission and the Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW. Efforts were focused on increasing electoral awareness within CALD communities in western Sydney. Facilitators generated content for ethnic radio stations by interviewing community members about their attitudes and experiences of enrolment and voting, and participating in radio interviews. Podcast content was made available on the Vote Talk website.

People with disability

The AEC collaborates with the disability sector through its Disability Advisory Committee (DAC). The committee works to promote greater accessibility, inclusion and participation in the electoral process by people with disability. Through the committee the AEC seeks and receives feedback from Australian peak disability organisations on the programs and services it delivers, as well as new and emerging issues. In refining services for the 2019 federal election, the committee focused on:

  • preparing and delivering a video promoting the various electoral support services available to people with disability at the polling place
  • an educational video for AEC staff on how to assist voters who need help at a polling place
  • the AEC’s pilot of fully accessible voting centres

The AEC website is fully accessible and includes enrolment forms. The AEC also helps electors to vote at a polling place, through postal and mobile polling options, and offers telephone voting for voters with a vision impairment.

Information is available in large print, etext, MP3 and Braille. Easy read guides are available in multiple languages and cover enrolling to vote, voting at a polling place and voting by mail.

Communication

In 2018–19 the AEC’s advertising, public relations and communication strategies focused predominantly on federal electoral events—the six federal by-elections and the 2019 federal election.

Throughout the year, proactive and reactive information was provided to the media on a range of election administration matters. Topics included redistribution processes, introduction of the mandatory candidate qualification checklist, record enrolment rates, and the progression of election processes like early voting and counting.

Information was regularly published on the AEC website as data and media releases, and through the AEC’s Twitter account.

For the six by-elections, communication activities included advertising, public relations, collateral including official guides, intermediary outreach and the availability of AEC public engagement channels.

The national Your vote will help shape Australia public information campaign for the 2019 federal election facilitated successful participation among eligible voters. This was an integrated, multichannel campaign implemented from the issue of writs to election day across the three key election phases of enrolment, voter services and formality. Campaign materials were adapted to ensure messages were clear, and to apply updated authorisation requirements for electoral communications.

Advertising was placed in up to 30 languages for CALD audiences, and radio ads were produced and broadcast in 18 Indigenous languages.

The Stop and consider, social media campaign encouraged voters to check the source of electoral communication to avoid being misled by disinformation. Advertising across social media channels Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google yielded 56,404,717 impressions and more than 100,000 clicks through to the AEC website.

International services

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) funds the AEC to lead a number of bilateral electoral capacity building efforts, particularly in the Pacific region. This year, the AEC undertook activities in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga.

DFAT has also provided funding and support—for over 20 years—for the AEC’s major electoral capacity building program through the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators Network (PIANZEA). Through PIANZEA, the AEC provides secretariat services, is a representative on the network’s advisory group, and facilitates peer to peer support for electoral administrators across the Pacific. In 2018–19 the AEC:

  • helped the PNG Electoral Commission, including through two BRIDGE workshops, to embed its new corporate plan
  • provided technical assistance to the Tonga Electoral Office, including training officials and developing procedures
  • hosted the 2019 PIANZEA Network senior officials meeting and three concurrent BRIDGE workshops in Brisbane
  • deployed four advisers across the Fiji islands to work alongside the Fijian Elections Office to support delivery of the 2018 election
  • deployed three advisers to Solomon Islands to assist with logistics, operations and training to support delivery of the 2019 election

The AEC also continues as an integral part of the BRIDGE partnership with the:

  • International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
  • International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)
  • United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD)
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

This long-standing partnership supports the continued development and maintenance of one of the world’s leading electoral professional development programs. In 2018–19 the AEC hosted the BRIDGE partners meeting which agreed to a five year strategic plan and to develop a new version of the BRIDGE curriculum.

The AEC also hosted key international partners and study programs from several countries throughout the year. Participants met with senior executive staff and technical experts arranged through the Australian Political Exchange Council, universities and intergovernmental visits. Delegations came from the United States, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, China, Timor Leste, Japan and India.

Data Highlights

Education

  • 2,773 free education sessions delivered to 95,944 visitors from all 151 electoral divisions
  • programs provided to 81,776 primary schools students, 6,144 secondary students and 8,024 adults as part of their civics and citizenship studies
  • engagement with more than 1,500 visitors during an open day at Australia’s Parliament House
  • 240,000 visitors to the AEC for Schools website
  • 521 election packs sent to schools through Get Voting
  • 60 educators completed the Voting in the Classroom online learning module
  • 15 professional development sessions provided to 237 in-service teachers
  • presentations to seven universities and more than 1,095 pre-service teachers
  • workshops delivered to more than 75 participants at five civics education conferences

Communications

  • one national public information campaign
  • 42.1 million visits to the AEC website
  • 56 million social media impressions for Stop and consider
  • advertising placed in up to 30 languages

International

  • 22 advisors deployed to four Pacific nations
  • seven BRIDGE workshops conducted for 14 Pacific nations
  • 44 delegates and two international organisations from 25 countries hosted as part of the 2019 Federal Election Visitor Program

For more information go to:

  • the performance statement–agency direction one
  • appendix E
  • www.aec.gov.au