01 April 2021

National Constitutional Convention

Article by Deanne Allen-Emery

National Constitutional Convention

Traditionally, the National Constitutional Convention is held in Canberra where student delegates debate, discuss and recreate a part of the National Schools Constitution Convention (NSCC). Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the NSCC experience was different, whereby students were in “hubs” across Australia and the Convention operated via Zoom.

Last week, Dylan Vigilante (12 Francis) represented the College proudly at this 2-day Convention, held at the Hotel Windsor and Parliament House Victoria and was a significant contributor to the convention, regularly representing his own personal and group views to students in other hubs.

Over 110 student delegates from all states and territories of Australia, came together to research and understand the following question:

Should the Constitution have a new preamble that would recognise our history, our aspirations and the many peoples and groups that make up our nation?

Day 1

Day 1 of the Convention was the opportunity to learn about the context, background and importance of the preamble at the beginning of the Constitution. In understanding this topic, students were also exposed to ideas and beliefs from both an indigenous and multicultural perspective. Listening to keynote speakers from university professors from a range of political, historical and cultural backgrounds, students were able to debate whether our existing preamble meets the needs of a modern Australia. Students were also given the opportunity to write a preamble based on their new found perspective.

Finally, a highlight of the day was the brief Zoom meeting with his Excellency General, the Hon David Hurley, Australia’s Governor General. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather he had to cut the conversation / question time short, but afforded the student delegates an opportunity to email him questions.

Day 2

Day 2 of the Convention started with a tour of Victoria’s Parliament House, in particular the upper and lower house and learnt about each of the house roles, composition and origin. Following our tour, students voted and chose the ACT preamble, with each hub ensuring the wording of the preamble represented modern Australia. Day 2 was finalised with a referendum vote. 

Traditionally conservative, 2021 NSCC Convention passed overwhelmingly “YES” to recognise our indigenous heritage and our multiculturalism, while recognising our Federation. The preamble was then presented to The Hon Scott Ryan, the President of the Senate.

Dylan’s experience is outlined below.

The experience of getting to attend the 2021 National Schools Constitution convention was an incredibly insightful endeavour and allowed me to participate in a politically geared environment with like-minded young people. I was able to discuss constitutional changes and be involved in youth political activity which gave me a very comprehensive insight into Australian political processes.

I was involved in a working group made up of other Victorian students where I was able to work and discuss with them their opinions regarding mock changes to the constitutional preamble. I made many close friends with a similar interest in politics during the experience and was able to present myself in a formal setting in front of many professors and major political figures. I was so honoured to be able to take part in the experience and it taught me many valuable lessons regarding Australian Politics and strongly encourage any future students to apply as it is a very enriching experience.

Dylan has a significant interest in both domestic and global politics and is a member of the Unit 3 & 4 Global Politics class. We hope this experience is a stepping stone to a wonderful political career that he aspires to.

Deanne Allen-Emery   Humanities Learning Area Leader