The AEC endeavours to ensure all eligible Australians are aware of the operation of Australia’s electoral system and how to participate in federal electoral events.
For the majority of the 16 million+ Australians eligible to enrol and vote this is predominantly done through a large scale communication campaign at the time of a federal election, which utilises mass media advertising and public relations channels. However, this type of campaign does not reach all Australians or achieve the necessary understanding of the electoral system in some communities and, as such, is supported by targeted educational activities throughout the electoral cycle.
The AEC understands that with so many competing priorities in remote Indigenous communities communicating the importance of having a say during a federal election can be challenging. A targeted activity that the AEC is currently trialling ahead of the next federal election is the EAO program.
EAOs are members of the local Indigenous community, and work with AEC staff to help them understand the unique environment within each community they visit, advise on local issues and help the AEC to spread the word about the importance of enrolling and voting.
Having a member of the local community assist the AEC to discuss electoral participation helps the message be delivered appropriately and resonate.
This trial began in the community of Galiwin’ku, located on Elcho Island off the Arnhem Land coast in the Northern Territory. The next phase of the pilot program is being rolled out in the nearby communities of Milingimbi and Ramingining.
During a federal election the AEC conducts a program of remote area mobile polling. At the next federal election this program will be undertaken to the same scale as was delivered in 2016.
AEC mobile polling teams will cover about 3.4 million square kilometres by road, air and sea to reach remote outstations, pastoral properties, small towns, tourist resorts and mine sites in the Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.
Remote polling teams typically consist of three members, with the majority including Indigenous staff. They are often assisted by an additional community-based voter information officer whose role is to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voters, if required.
The AEC works with communities to allocate the most appropriate polling schedule and notify members of the community ahead of each visit.