Teachers, encourage your students who are 16 years or older to enrol to vote, and students who are 18 years or older to join the VirginVoters Voicebox and share their thoughts with Australia.
The Virgin Voters Teachers Resource Kit has everything you need to teach students about their voting responsibilities.
It provides information about the Australian Political System, sample ballot papers, and powerpoint slides organised into an easy to follow lesson plan.
For a free copy of the VirginVoters Teachers Resource Kit, write to us with your name, school and contact details.
You have to be 18 years or older to vote.
If you are 16 or 17, you can enrol but you can’t vote until you turn 18.
Enrolling early is a good idea as you have to do it anyway and it ensures you won’t miss an opportunity to vote. Also, it’s a good way to avoid an accidental fine when you’re a few years older.
Unfortunately you can’t join the Voicebox until you are 18 or older and enrolled to vote, but you can Like us on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter to stay up to date with everything you need to know.
Through Facebook and Twitter you can be a part of the VirginVoters commentary and tell Australia what you think.
Also, keep us in mind for the next election. We’d love to have you on board.
Click here to pre-enrol to vote.
Australia is a democracy. This means every person has the right to form an opinion and tell other Australians what they think about any aspect of society, as long as they don’t break the law.
All Australian citizens 18 years or older have to vote, and have the right to join or form a political or activist party.
Australia has three levels of government:
Each level of government is accountable to Australian citizens who vote.
When you vote in State and Federal Elections, you are choosing one representative from the political parties to represent you at their level of government. The party with the most number of representatives wins the election and becomes the Government.
Each party votes for their leader, and whoever is the leader of the winning party becomes the Premier or Prime Minister.
For more info on all of this, check out ‘The Political System’ in this Toolkit.
The Political System
Aussie politics use the Westminster system of government, and has two ‘Houses of Parliament’. So does Great Britain and most Commonwealth countries around the world.
There are two important things you need to know about Aussie politics:
2- on election day, you need to cast two votes – one for each House of Parliament.
The House of Representatives (or the Lower House) is green and is made up of 150 local representatives from around Australia.
The Senate (or the Upper House) is red and is made up of 72 representatives from around Australia.
Generally speaking, the House of Representatives think up and vote on new laws for Australia. When a proposed law gets a majority vote, it goes to the Senate where it’s discussed, debated, tweaked and voted on a second time.
When the proposed law gets a majority vote from the Senate, it goes back to the House of Representatives who look at any changes that have been made in the Senate, and vote on it again. If it gets a majority vote for a third time, it becomes law. If not, it is back to the drawing board and a new law is proposed.
The Electorate and the Government
Australia is divided into 150 sections with each section having approximately the same number of people. Each section is called an electorate, and is informally referred to a ‘seat’.
The political party that wins the majority of seats in the House of Representatives wins the election and becomes the Government, and the leader of the party becomes the Prime Minster.
In Australia, there are 150 seats up for grabs in every Federal Election. To win an election, a party needs 76 seats or more.
The Senate is made up of 72 seats, and has 12 representatives from each state and 2 representatives from each territory. At every Federal Election, only half of the Senate seats are up for grabs.
Australia uses a Preferential Voting System. This means we have to number all of the boxes provided on ballot papers when we vote. When counting votes, the ballot papers are sorted according to first preferences (shown by a 1 in the box). To win a seat, a party must win an outright majority of votes.
If a party does not have an outright majority of votes after all of the ballot papers have been counted according to first preferences, the ballot papers from the political party with the least amount of votes are re-sorted according to second preferences (shown by a 2 in the box).
If a party does not have an outright majority after all of the votes have been counted, the ballot papers from the political party with the least amount of votes are resorted according to third preferences (shown by a 3 in the box).
This process continues until one party has a clear majority of votes, and wins the seat.