Citizenship education received a boost today with the opening of the WA Electoral Commission's Electoral Education Centre.
Parliamentary and Electoral Reform Minister Geoff Gallop performed the opening ceremony for the new teaching facility in the old Subiaco Primary School in Hamersley Road.
"The broad aim of the Electoral Education Centre is to promote greater understanding of our system of representative democracy and increased participation in the electoral processes," Dr Gallop said.
"School groups will be able to combine a trip to the new centre in Subiaco with a visit to Parliament House for the citizenship education programs conducted by Parliament's education office.
"A similar teaching facility in Canberra has played a major role in citizenship education and the WA initiative should be equally successful."
Dr Gallop said the centre's teaching program was focused on the three levels of government: Federal, State and local. The city of Subiaco was being used as a model for describing the machinery of local government.
"The educational activities and displays are mainly directed at the upper primary and high school levels to Year 12," Dr Gallop said.
"Ultimately, other programs will be developed to cater for visits by groups such as trainee teachers and representatives of ethnic communities.
"A visit to the centre begins with an audio-visual presentation which provides a foundation for greater understanding of the other activities.
"Students can participate in a mock election for which a polling place and teaching facility has been provided.
"Upon completion of the various stages, a comprehensive Commonwealth, State and local government display utilises special activity sheets to help students learn about the electoral system."
The Government pledged it would improve citizenship education at the 1989 State election. Another factor in the plan for the Electoral Education Centre was a Senate Standing Committee report on the need for electoral education.
A seminar organised by the Education Ministry subsequently recommended the establishment of the teaching facility in a location as near as possible to the WA Parliament.
The Old Subiaco Primary School was considered an ideal location. The school previously housed the Museum of Childhood which is now located at the Claremont campus of Edith Cowan University.
Thanks were due to the Electoral Commissioner, Mr Les Smith, and his staff for their work in bringing the project to fruition.
"Admission to the Electoral Education Centre is free but advance bookings are essential," Dr Gallop said.
"Teachers are welcome to drop in to prepare for a visit, or to seek information."
For further details and bookings telephone Chris Avent or Nigel Bushby on (09) 381 8963.