Public Outreach Module Conducted in Darwin

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The course content was condensed into 2 jam packed days and our aim was for attendees to move through;

  • An understanding of current public outreach activity in the NT;
  • Identify the challenges in delivering public outreach in our region; and
  • Gain an awareness of the broader public outreach environment by exploring who our stakeholders are, what principles might underpin public outreach programs, who the clients or target groups of our programs are, and the special needs these clients might have.
BRIDGE Group Activity
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BRIDGE Participants – Darwin March 2006

We then hoped to have participants apply these understandings and learnings to the development of a public awareness program in a mock scenario, and of course to highlight strategies for dealing with the challenges of public outreach delivery in the NT.

Highlights of the course included:

  • the activity in which participants designed a song, slogan, poster, radio broadcast or street theatre performance that delivered a public outreach message;
  • the show and tell session that explored international examples of public outreach; and
  • the activity in which participants, in small groups, designed a public outreach program for a referendum scenario.

Day 1
AM
After a brief background of the BRIDGE project we sought an overview of the current public outreach activity conducted by each agency in attendance.

This was followed by a brainstorming session on the challenges for public outreach delivery in the NT. The brainstorming session delivered a huge catalogue of challenges and served as a reference point for the following days activities. In planning this activity we were particularly keen to draw out the issues that new enrolment legislation might pose for public outreach delivery in the NT, and for this understanding to then inform the following sessions.

We followed this with a session on the principles of public outreach and referred participants to material from ACE on this topic. This was followed by a brainstorming session on stakeholders.

We then used the types of public outreach handout for a group discussion, drawing out examples of each type of public outreach using a post it note exercise. We finished this session with a discussion of the types of electoral education conducted by the AEC and other electoral bodies.

PM
After lunch we had an AEC NT public awareness officer deliver a condensed version of the public awareness session used for school visits in the NT. This session was an excellent example of an activity based public outreach program, particularly by involving the participants in a mock election. A discussion of the resources used, the principles employed and the type of session conducted followed the presentation, and participants were also able to identify aspects of the session that addressed some of the challenges raised earlier.

The next session explored clients and particularly the special needs of clients, referring to hand outs in the participant folders about access and diversity issues.

The afternoon session asked participants to bring the days learning together to develop a public outreach activity. The activity was introduced by a group discussion of the 7 steps of public outreach program design, asking participants what each step might involve. Participants were then asked to develop, in small groups, a song, slogan, poster, radio broadcast or street theatre performance that delivered a public outreach message. This session used the balloon exercise and was extremely successful. It was an energetic and vibrant way to finish the day.

Day 2
AM
We started the day with examples of public outreach programs in other countries, using a video from Solomon Islands and then one from PNG, in a show and tell session. This included discussion of the various elements of these programs and their similarities to the remote NT public outreach experience. These examples were particularly relevant to AEC staff as one of our officers is currently working in the Solomon Islands.

We also looked at examples of public outreach material such as posters, stickers, tv advertising, information pamphlets and slogans from the highly successful program in New Zealand. Participants responded with great interest to these materials and discussed the benefits of such an extensive and catchy campaign.

In the final session before lunch we set up a group activity for participants, asking them to design a comprehensive public outreach program for a statehood referendum scenario.  We asked participants to consider all the elements of public outreach we had covered to this point, such as principles, types, stakeholders and clients and to use the seven steps of planning to develop their program. We provided them with a template that required them to cover timelines, costs, staffing, training, resources, monitoring and evaluation in the planning of their program.

PM
The above planning activity continued in the afternoon session with much detailed discussion among participants. This activity was very useful in bringing all the elements of the course together and could easily have continued for longer. At the conclusion of this activity we asked participants to report back their groups program, outlining their reasons for their approach.

We ended the day with a short activity, asking participants to design a slogan and poster for the referendum scenario. This activity ended the day on a light note, with humour being used in the slogans, and was a fun way to finish the course.

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