Secondary Schools In-house Convention

Topics, Resources and Activities

Due to social distancing and implications of COVID-19, local conventions will not run in host schools across Victoria. Instead, we will be providing you with the opportunity to run a classroom convention on-line or in the classroom on your return to school. 

To allow us to provide you with additional resources and how to vote, please register your participation at:

The topic for the convention will be, Should the voting age be lowered to 16?

This topic fits well with the Victorian Curriculum’s Humanities Civics and Citizenship Education (VCCCG020). 

Content Description

Explain how citizens can participate in Australia’s democracy, including the use of the electoral systems, contact with their elected representative, use of lobby groups, interest groups and direct action. 

The Task

Students over term two and three will be able to research this topic and investigate the issue in depth then vote. The vote will be on-line and open at the start of term two and close on 7 August. We will be advised of details early June. The Victorian Electoral Commission will be assisting us in this process. 

You will find following useful links to get you and your students started on researching the topic. 

We have also included an activity sheet that you may like to use with your students for an at-home activity or in the classroom. 

Relevant supporting material


(Please note these are embedded in the Student Activity Sheet attached.)

General resources

Australian Electoral Commission - Teacher resources 


  • Voting activities for people with learning difficulties 
  • Activity sheets – test your electoral knowledge 
  • Links to voting practice interactives 

Get Voting 
Too young to vote / Clare Lavery 

A lesson containing a series of activities to discuss the best age for young people to have political responsibility. British Council, BBC Designed for English as an Additional Language students, years 7-12.

Victorian Electoral Commission 

Passport to democracy

Your voice, your future

Talking democracy 

Victorian Parliament (Education Zone) 

Lowering the voting age – Australia

Youth Engagement and the Age of Majority

The politics of lowering the voting age in Australia: Evaluating the evidence - Ian McAllister

Young Liberals

Youth Coalition

'Young people have lots to offer': Should these teens be able to vote? Andrew Brown

Youth movement: Should we lower the voting age?

Lowering the voting age

Lowering the voting age – Victoria

Victorian Electoral Commission 


The Conversation ABC

Further research by your students will also identify overseas sites that have addressed this issue. 

How to participate in the vote? 

An on-line voting system will be available for all students to vote on the topic question – Should the voting age be lowered to 16?

Voting will open at the start of term two and close on 7 August 2020. Further details about the process will be available to you at the end of term two. 

Classroom Activity 

Should we lower the voting age to 16?

In 2015 the then Opposition Leader Bill Shorten supported the idea that 16-year olds should be able to vote. The ABC’s BTN prepared and episode on this issue. Click on this link to find out more:

BTN – Voting age 

In 2018 Western Australian Green’s Senator Jordon Steele-John introduced the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Lowering Voting Age and Increasing Voter Participation) Bill 2018. 

This Bill proposed to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984. Changes included: 

  • lower the minimum (non-compulsory) voting age in Australian federal elections and referenda from 18 to 16 years;
  • allow 14- and 15-year old’s to be added to the electoral roll in preparation for their eligibility to vote at 16 years of age
  • provide for 16- and 17-year old’s to be included in the certified list of voters (but not to be given a penalty notice if they do not vote).

The Bill proposes to lower the voting age to 16 in Australia, but to leave the age of compulsory voting at 18. The changes also allow 14 and 15 year old’s to be added to the electoral roll in preparation for their eligibility to vote at 16 years of age. 

Senator Jordon Steele-John outlined the reasons for this change in his second reading speech in the Senate. 

1. Draw up a T-chart like the one below. 


Arguments in favour of
lowering the age to vote to 16 years

Arguments against
lowering the age to vote to 16 years

In the left-hand column list the positive arguments given by Senator Jordon Steele-John for lowering the age to vote in Australia

Use the following link to view the Senator’s Second Reading Speech or read the following extract from his speech. [If you are reading the extract you might want to use a highlighter to identify the key points made in the speech.]

Senator STEELE-JOHN (Western Australia) (16:31): I must say I am thrilled to speak to the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Lowering Voting Age and Increasing Voter Participation) Bill 2018 this afternoon. For far too long, politics has failed to properly represent young people or the issues we care about. There are many within this place and beyond who think young people don't care about our world or haven't earned the right to participate in our society from a perceived lack of experience or maturity. There are those who do not or cannot look to the future and, for that reason, see young people as a threat. In fact, many in this place see the disengagement of my generation from politics as politically convenient, even ideal. Young people need some political capital. Young people need some leverage. 

There are almost 600,000 of us who are, by and large, deemed to be adults by our society and yet cannot participate in the decisions being made about their future. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds can work full time, pay tax, contribute to superannuation, drive a car and own a car and therefore pay stamp duty to contribute to maintenance of our roads and public transport infrastructure. They can legally have sex and make medical decisions about their bodies. They can join our political parties, all except, of course, the absent Ms Hanson's party. In many cases, they can be treated as an adult by our criminal justice system. In short, they cannot vote although they are treated in many ways by our society as adults. 

The rise of digital media means that my generation is plugged into the 24-hour news cycle and is taking part in actions and activism to shape their world. They care deeply about the issues and they care deeply about the future of all of us. They don't see politics as representative of them at this current time, but this is our problem as legislators, not theirs as citizens. In the last few years there has been a surge of young people making their voices heard about issues that matter to them. The marriage equality plebiscite and Justice for Elijah are just two key examples from the Australian context. From a global perspective, March for Our Lives and the Black Lives Matter movements have been led from the front by young people. 

My generation will have to live with the consequences of the decisions made in this place for the longest time. The fact that I am the youngest person in this place by close to a decade, and that I am the only person under the age of 30, speaks volumes about the lack of representation of Australia's young people in our political system. It is time we recognised 16- and 17-year-olds and their contribution. It is time we recognised they should have the right to a vote and that they make an enormous contribution to our society. 

This a matter of importance not just for my generation but for everyone in this place who has a child or has grandchildren and is concerned about the world they will inherit—the world that we are crafting here. Your children and grandchildren will live with the consequences of the decisions we make in this place. On some days, that is a rather terrifying thought. It is true in Australia that young people aged between 18 and 24 are more disengaged from politics than other demographics, but they are not alone in their feeling of disenfranchisement, their feeling of frustration and their feeling that this place and the governments that reside in it can, should and must do so much better. Imagine if your life and your future were being shaped by others and yet you had no say? Young people care deeply about issues and they care deeply about their future. It is politics that does not care about them. It is our political system that is letting them down. ‘

[Note: When the Senator refers to ‘this place’ he is referring to the Senate]


2. The following articles discuss reasons for and against extending the right to vote to 16-year olds. Carefully read these articles and complete the T-chart summary that you started in Question 1. Add in other arguments for or against lowering the voting age to your T-chart. Are there any other points that you would add to your chart?

Should Australia lower the voting age to 16? We asked five experts 

The case for and against lowering the voting age to 16

Lowering the age to vote

3. The Bill to lower the voting age to 16 years was consider by a Senate Parliamentary Committee.

a) Using the following resource briefly describe the role of a Parliamentary Committee: Committees 

b) The Parliamentary Committee completed its report in 2019. It recommended that the Bill not be passed. Read the following article: “Bill to lower voting age to 16 shut down by parliamentary inquiry” 

  • What reasons are given for the Committee not supporting the Bill?
  • The article notes that young people have other avenues for political participation. What political actions do you think that young people can take to influence parliament? Why do you think these actions would be effective? 

Teacher notes
This learning resource primarily addresses elements of the ‘Government and Democracy’ strand at Levels 7 and 8 of The Humanities: Civics and Citizenship learning area in the Victorian Curriculum F–10. Students will require internet access, including access to YouTube, to complete some of the activities in this resource.