ACT Schools Constitutional Convention

Elizabeth Gregory, Enling Liao, Chelsea Kenneally, Spencer Burns, Annabel Kuskie, Poppy Volk-Loone, Kate Miller and Claire Hu

Elizabeth Gregory, Enling Liao, Chelsea Kenneally, Spencer Burns, Annabel Kuskie, Poppy Volk-Loone, Kate Miller and Claire Hu

By Claire Huang and Kate Miller Y11 

On 25 and 26 July, eight Radford students, were lucky enough to attend the ACT Schools Constitutional Convention, accompanied by Ms Hunter and Mr Ewbank. This event is designed to teach students about the Constitution and our place in the Australian democracy, and was a chance to discuss topics of note with other like-minded young people. Through this year’s topic, Should the Commonwealth have specific powers to legislate for the environment, we were all able to gain a better understanding of the decision-making process which takes place in parliament. 

Photo below: Some of the Radford delegates with Radford Collegian, Alistair Coe, MLA, ACT Leader of the Opposition.

Students with Alistair Coe, MLA, Radford CollegianOn Thursday, we arrived bright and early at Old Parliament House where we listened to the first keynote speaker, Ryan Goss, an associate professor of Law at the ANU. He gave us an introduction to the Constitution, as well as providing fascinating insights into why it has (and hasn’t) changed over time. We were also provided with the opportunity to ask questions, which helped us to delve further into areas of particular national relevance. During the day, we also toured the Museum of Australian Democracy and the National Archives of Australia, where we viewed artefacts and documents of national significance, and re-enacted the historic debate of the World Heritage Properties Conservation Bill of 1983.  

Another standout event was the debate held at the legislative assembly on Day Two. We heard the cases for and against Constitutional change from members of the Greens and Liberal parties, and were able to pose questions to each politician, an experience which everyone agreed was an extremely valuable experience. We also participated in an open floor debate and took part in other discussions around the topic in our designated state groups. At the conclusion of these, we all made a decision regarding the topic taking our State’s stance into account, and took part in a “referendum” (helped by the Australian Electoral Commission), which consolidated the ideas that had been swirling around in our minds for the last two days.  

Overall, we would highly recommend attending ConCon next year! With the endless back and forth debate on the topic, it is a chance to meet new, like-minded people, be exposed to a variety of other points of view and to learn to justify your beliefs. Hearing other young people with a great variety of beliefs and values debate so passionately was more than interesting - it was empowering.  

We would like to thank Mrs Hunter and Mr Ewbank for their fantastic support and supervision over the two days, it was certainly an unforgettable experience! 

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