Catherine McAuley Westmead student at National Press Club Aus
Sara was one of the 30 NSW delegates at the National Schools Constitutional Convention held in Canberra from Tuesday 19th March - Thursday 21st March


Sara E., a Year 12 Legal Studies student, recently represented NSW at the 29th National Schools Constitutional Convention held at Old Parliament House, Canberra. To be chosen for this was a significant achievement and Sara has written a reflection of this experience.

Last year I applied to the NSW Constitution Convention (State level), which is offered to one Year 11 Legal Studies student per school. I had to submit a 500 word response to a question about reformation of the Australian Constitution. From all the NSW applicants, I was one of around 100 student delegates chosen to represent the school at NSW Parliament House for a series of small group discussions and presentations. Following this, I was then voted as one of 30 NSW delegates to represent a total of 94 students from around Australia who travelled to Canberra for the National Constitution Convention in March.

At the Convention, Emeritus Professor Clement Macintyre led a two-day program in which students explored, ‘Section 96 of the Constitution allows the Commonwealth to grant funds to areas that fall outside those prescribed in Section 51. Should Section 96 be amended to decentralise the power of the Commonwealth?’. After hearing several keynote addresses from a panel of experts and considering the issues in small groups, I and other delegates voted in a mock referendum.

Catherine McAuley Westmead student
Sara with the Governor-General, The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd)


The majority of people and majority of states/territories voted on NO to the question:

A Proposed Law: To delete section 96 of the Australian Constitution and to replace it with the following words: “The Commonwealth shall return three quarters of all revenue received into the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the States, unless a majority of States agree otherwise”.

This outcome was included in a Communiqué presented to the Senate for inclusion in Hansard.

Catherine McAuley Westmead student at National Press Club dinner
Delegates attended an official dinner at the National Press Club


Other elements of the program included the Prime Minister’s Reception at the Parliament House hosted by The Hon Patrick Gorman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister; a meeting with the Governor-General, The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) at Government House; and an official dinner at the National Press Club. Caitlin Figueiredo, Co-chair, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition and 2024 ACT Young Australian of the Year was the guest speaker at the dinner.

I was very honoured to attend the Convention! We were addressed by so many pioneers and leaders in their fields, such as Professor Emerita Anne Twoomey, whose textbooks have been studied by the Australian Governor General, so it was really special to be able to be taught directly by the greats. It's really important to learn about the most foundational laws of our country (the Constitution), and it's incredible that I was able to contribute to discussions about the current state of the Constitution and how the Constitution can be amended and altered to reflect the progression of our society.

 

Written By

Sara E. | Year 12 Legal Studies Student

Sara E. | Year 12 Legal Studies Student
Catherine McAuley Westmead

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