Attending the 2023 NSCC

Terry with the other 2023 NSCC ACT school delegates outside Parliament House. Credit: NSCC 2023.

By Terry Yang, Year 12

On Thursday, 23 March, the Albanese Government announced the final wording of the proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Coincidentally, Thursday was also the final day of the 28th National Schools Constitutional Convention (NSCC) - held at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra, from Tuesday, 21 to Thursday, 23 March.

As one of five delegates representing the ACT and one of 116 Year 11 and 12 students from across Australia, I had the chance to discuss the proposed amendment, plus a variety of other constitutional issues with students from around the country.

On the first day, after a fifteen-minute drive (in contrast to the WA delegates’ 3 am wake up and four-hour flight), I arrived at our hotel. And after lunch, we headed off to Parliament House for Question Time, which was surprisingly entertaining.

The rest of the convention focused on the question: is section 128 of the Constitution - which outlines the ‘double majority’ requirement of constitutional alteration - still a necessary requirement to change such an important document as the Australian Constitution? And, after listening to a number of guest speakers - including professors and politicians - and discussing with smaller working groups, the majority of delegates ultimately voted "no" in a mock referendum.

The Convention was an amazing experience. From meeting the Governor-General to dinner at the High Court, the supplementary activities were just as wonderful as the more academic parts and I really enjoyed meeting people from all around Australia.

Year 10s and 11s - I highly recommend you apply for the Convention next year (plus it’s completely free!). Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up discovering a love for the intricacies of constitutional interpretation.