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Strategic priority 2: Empowering and engaging communities

We will promote active citizenship via a suite of transformative audience experiences and targeted activities that are timely and influential and which support inclusion and build civic and social cohesion.

The museum offers high-quality, curriculum-based education programs to school groups, providing unique and transformative learning experiences that help young people to understand what it means to be an informed and engaged citizen. During 2018–19, a record number of 88,534 students and teachers from across 1,490 educational institutions participated in our onsite education programs. The most highly represented cohorts were years 5 and 6.

Digital excursion programs

Our digital excursion programs provide an opportunity for the museum to engage with school groups, particularly from regional and remote communities, who cannot visit the museum in person.

Developed in our digital studio, using green screen technology, the programs enable students to virtually interact with the museum’s objects and spaces. They provide playful, immersive learning experiences that are academically sound and mapped to relevant curriculum subject areas.

The digital excursion program for primary school students, Democracy, Media and Me was delivered to a total of 832 students and 72 teachers during 2018–19, in both mainstream classrooms and hospital settings. Feedback from teachers and students was extremely positive, and inspired the creation of additional pre- and post-program enrichment activities. For example, we adapted our onsite tactile sensory box to cater for Canberra Hospital students with different ages and learning needs.

A new digital excursion program for secondary schools, It’s My Right, Isn’t It?, was trialled in targeted local and interstate schools in May 2019. At 30 June 2019, 81 students and six teachers had participated. The program will be officially launched in August 2019.

Teacher professional learning initiatives

We used several methods to encourage discussions within professional learning communities about the programs, resources and opportunities that the museum develops and delivers to support teachers’ learning needs and increase their uptake of our curriculum-based learning programs.

In 2018–19, teachers’ learning initiatives included:

  • utilising the digital studio to deliver bespoke, interactive teacher professional development opportunities and online resources to support teachers in their professional learning
  • making presentations at local and interstate teachers’ conferences and workshops relating to civics and citizenship, history, humanities and social sciences, and media arts
  • delivering onsite professional learning programs to pre-service, beginning and experienced teachers
  • piloting partnership collaborations with the Australian Catholic University and the University of Canberra on pre-service teacher and qualified teacher professional learning opportunities.

The museum supported existing collaborations and explored new partnerships with other civics institutions through the History Teachers’ Association of Australia national conference; the ACT National History Challenge launch and presentation; ACT and District History Teachers’ Association committee meetings; teacher professional learning programs; Australian Curriculum Studies Association webinars, site visits and program observations; and committee memberships.

Democracy 2025

Democracy 2025 is an initiative developed by the museum in partnership with the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. Democracy 2025 is leading a process of national reflection and renewal aimed at rebuilding trust and strengthening democratic practice in Australia. It does this by building a robust evidence base about the strengths of Australian democracy; promoting excellence and innovation in democratic governance; and helping to create active, engaged and informed citizens.

Democracy 2025’s research program underpins museum activities and informs exhibition design and public engagement programs, ensuring that our work is evidence based. The research team conducts national surveys and focus groups and analyses thousands of visitor comments on how Australians understand their democracy. This work includes an ongoing survey of the views of young Australians who participate in the museum’s award-winning school programs.

We also facilitated public workshops and expert panels on aspects of Australian democracy. Working with key partners—including the Harvard Kennedy School, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, the Public Policy and Societal Impact Hub at the Australian National University, and the London School of Economics and Political Science—Democracy 2025 provides a neutral space in which politicians, public servants, academics and members of the community can evaluate the democratic issues confronting Australia, in an open and informed way.

Democracy 2025’s first report was launched in Parliament House by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters on 5 December 2018. During 2018–19, we released a total of three reports:

In September 2018, Democracy 2025 partnered with the ABC in the development of an online interactive digital experience in which 231,000 participants were able to compare their views on democracy with those of the Australian citizenry as a whole. The national data and commentary were provided by Democracy 2025.

In addition, on 13–14 February 2019, Democracy 2025 convened a discussion on what the Australian Public Service can do to help bridge the trust divide. Participants included invited delegates representing each member of the Secretaries Board; representatives of the Integrity Agencies Group; and a small number of former secretaries and deputy secretaries. The program was delivered in partnership with the Australian National University’s Public Policy and Societal Impact Hub, and MosaicLab.