The PEO delivers parliamentary education services to teachers, students and others across Australia through:
- experiential learning programs that enable students and teachers to understand and engage with the work of the Parliament, and
- teaching resources aligned to the Australian civics and citizenship curriculum, including seven websites covering fundamental concepts such as representation, law-making, the separation of powers and responsible government.
Over two million students have expanded their knowledge of the role, function and value of the Australian Parliament through participating in a PEO program.
The PEO is jointly-funded by the Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives and guided by the PEO Advisory Committee. Co-chaired by the Deputy President of the Senate and the Deputy Speaker of the House, the committee offers advice on the strategic direction of the PEO, and forms an additional conduit between the PEO and parliamentarians. The committee reports to the Presiding Officers and meets twice a year.
Education programs: on site, digital and outreach
The PEO delivers education programs on-site at Parliament House, in classrooms across Australia through an outreach program, and through video conferencing.
The PEO’s immersive learning program at Parliament House is regarded as a highly effective method of parliamentary education. The program continued to run at capacity, with 89,259 students from 1,646 schools across Australia participating in 2017–18. These figures represent a small increase on the 2016–17 student participation rate (88,169 students and 1,621 schools).
The PEO also delivered a number of tailored education programs, including:
- ‘Rotary Adventure in Citizenship’, a week-long program for 36 Year 11 students from around Australia
- committee and chamber debate role-play sessions for 400 Year 12 students participating in the 2018 National Youth Science Forum, and
- professional development to assist 80 science teachers to incorporate civics and citizenship in their work as part of the Australian Science Teachers Association’s STEM X Academy.
In 2017–18, the PEO delivered outreach to 1,037 students in two electorates in Queensland. The PEO also commenced delivering programs to Australian classrooms via video conferencing in 2018. This new platform for program delivery allows the PEO to engage with schools across Australia, particularly those in regional and remote areas. In the first six months of operation, 598 students participated in a video conference program, paving the way for a substantial increase in the reach of the PEO.
Content: online and print
The PEO’s primary website, www.peo.gov.au, continued to perform strongly. A total of 1,001,776 users (representing 2.47 million unique page views) were recorded over the past year, representing an increase of 4 per cent on 2016–17 traffic. The website and six associated sub-sites provide information about Parliament and curriculum aligned teaching resources for Australian teachers and students.
To better support civics and citizenship teachers, the PEO introduced Session Notes, an e-newsletter for teachers. Distributed four times per year, the newsletter provides teachers with information about programs and content available to support their classroom practice. The first edition was sent to 370 subscribers in September 2017 and the number of subscribers has subsequently more than doubled.
The PEO produced and distributed a range of publications during the reporting period, including the Australian Constitution pocket edition, produced in partnership with the Australian Government Solicitor; Get Parliament, an easy-to-understand booklet that explores Australia’s system of governance; and Role-play the Parliament: a teacher’s guide, a step-by-step guide to conducting immersive parliamentary education in the classroom.
Services for members and senators
The PEO provides dedicated support to encourage and assist members and senators to engage with schools and students. In 2017 an e-newsletter – Click – was introduced to better support member and senator engagement. The newsletter was opened by 73 per cent of recipients, suggesting that it is a valuable resource for members and senators.
Members and senators are offered a complimentary annual allocation of education and information materials for students, teachers and others in their communities. In 2017–18, 123 members and 42 senators requested their allocation, an increase of 27 per cent from 2016–17.
The PEO’s customised materials for members and senators continue to be popular. In 2017–18, personalised versions of Representing you – a tailored brochure outlining the role of a parliamentarian and the issues in their electorate or state or territory – were created for 20 members and eight senators.