Pacific study visit focuses on civic education
16 December 2022
Staff from five Pacific Island parliaments have explored opportunities to enhance their education and community engagement programs during a study visit to the Victorian Parliament.
Coordinated with the United Nations Development Programme’s Pacific Office, the professional development initiative involved participants from the Parliaments of Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Over several days the group worked with the Victorian Parliament’s community engagement team to examine best practice approaches in education and youth engagement.
They spent time discussing each parliament’s respective programs, as well as future directions for and barriers to engagement. Top of everyone’s list were questions of how to make face-to-face engagement more effective and how to use social media and other technology for greater reach.
The group heard about ways to connect with stories of civic activism and community leadership in their parliamentary education and engagement programs. During an excursion around the Spring Street area of Melbourne they were introduced to the stories of Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls, whose influence and achievements are commemorated in Parliament Gardens. It was presented as an example of how storytelling can help enliven the teaching of civics to students.
The study program also involved investigating how different organisations engage with young people and develop their educational experiences. During a visit to the Science Gallery Melbourne at Melbourne University the Pacific staff took part in a design thinking workshop involving discussions about how to best put people’s needs at the centre of program development.
Opportunities to mentor younger people were also considered, along with creative ways to make sure they feel authentically seen and heard by parliament.
The study visit was part of ongoing cooperation between Australian and Pacific Island parliaments, supported through twinning programs between the various parliaments.