I want to begin this article with a confession: I don’t have a clue about politics.
I mean, I know who the PM is. And the Opposition Leader. Although given that I often see Tony in his bike shorts having coffee near my house makes this somewhat less impressive. (P.S Don’t hate me. I didn’t vote).
But I know very little more than that. Left wing, right wing, judiciary, double majority… what does democracy mean again?
And what’s up with the whole ‘liberal’ thing? The Liberal Party is not liberal? WTF.
It makes my head spin and my eyes glaze over. Unless, of course, it is Charlie Pickering interrogating Abbott on The Project, in which case I am laughing so hard I can’t see, hear or speak. Fucking brilliant.
But now the election is coming up. September 14. That is 118 days until I have to vote FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!
And I don’t know who to vote for. #embarrassing.
Or is it?
After I decided I was basically an idiot, I talked to my friends. Smart, well read, worldly young people. They said – somewhat embarrassedly – that they didn’t know much about politics either. Not enough to make an educated vote.
A lot of them said they would cast a blank vote
These are smart, passionate, caring young people. They are interested in our country, our world and the future. They want to make changes, the want to improve things.
But none of us knows how.
We haven’t been given the opportunity to learn.
The last time I was taught about Australian politics I was twelve.
That’s right. In Year 6, lucky 12 year olds get the opportunity to learn about Australian politics. They even go to Canberra and visit Parliament house!
All I can remember about that school camp is that one of my friends got her first period (which was like OMG) and I was stoked because we got to eat Domino’s which mum never let me have at home. Also I got homesick.
In other words, I was far too young to give a flying fuck about politics.
And then no one gave me the opportunity to learn it again!
Actually, that isn’t precisely true.
When I started my degree in journalism, I learned a bit about politics. I had a lecture on #auspol and started to wrap my head around it. I started watching Q and A and getting my news from a real newspaper, insead of Mamamia’s News in Two Minutes (which, by the way, is awesome).
But it isn’t enough. And it isn’t widespread. The majority of people aren’t getting a degree in politics. In fact, according to ABS, only 25% of Australians get a bachelor degree in anything.
What is especially worrying is that it isn’t taught in schools. There is no HSC subject called Australian Politics. The closest we get is Legal Studies, which kinda touches on it.
In Victoria, they have four Politics based VCE subjects. FOUR! Bitch please, whatever happened to sharing?
On a side note… why does each state have a different bloody education system? That seems frankly stupid to me. (But then again, considering I have just proved my uneducated political ignorance we should probably ignore that comment)
I understand it is very difficult to teach politics at a critical level without the teacher inflicting personal bias or – directly or indirectly – influencing susceptible young minds.
But we need something.
We need something more than some dogmatic online articles and biased opinions.
We need something more than the views of our parents, who are likely as baseless as our own.
We need something more than a singular issue, like our views on gay marriage or the Carbon Tax, to sway us.
We need something more than the fact that we hate one candidate slightly, erm, less than the other.
Because that is lame. And I really, really want to be able to hashtag #auspol without looking ignorant. Which, really, I am.
What do you think?