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Inclusive Communities and Democracy

Inclusive Communities:  "inclusive" refers to the extent to which a group consists of and welcomes people from a broad range of backgrounds and interests, taking into account issues of access, equity, language, ethnicity and culture, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status and dis/ability.

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This video was taken at a Youth Summit that took place at Parliament House in Sydney.  Twelve schools took part, each with an idea or proposal to advance inclusive communities in our society.  The process followed democratic principles and gave the students an opportunity to vote on the idea that they thought would be most effective in creating social inclusion.  Having decided upon the three most successful ideas, the students then had an opportunity to present their ideas to state and commonwealth ministers and parliamentarians, a local government councillor, and religious leaders.  

The following activities have particular relevance to the Civics and Citizenship strand of the Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum at years 5-8.

Discussion Questions

  1. What were some of the suggestions for creating inclusive communities presented by the student groups?
  2. How did students feel about the opportunity to share their ideas with other students?
  3. Why do you think only three groups could be selected to present for the community and political leaders?
  4. Why do you think a traffic light system was used? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this system to make decisions?
  5. How did the ‘Give Islam a go, Mate’ group react to just missing out on selection? How might you have reacted?

Follow Up Activities

  1. The youth summit adopted a democratic process. Participants learnt that democracy is not just about winning, it is about having a say. Discuss the meaning and importance of the following statement:
  2. "If you really have your say, but don't get your way, you will still be ok".

  3. Use the youth summit model to get active and make the world a better place.
    • Come up with some ideas: In small groups, discuss how and why certain groups of people sometimes feel excluded, then select one societal group that students feel could be better included. Brainstorm ideas to develop a proposal that addresses the selected problem of exclusion, just like the students in the video did. Still in groups, develop persuasive and effective presentations about each proposal.
    • Decide on one idea: Present proposals to the class and use the traffic light system to consider each one. After each presentation each student displays one of three cards (Green = great idea, Orange = unsure, Red = don’t agree) to indicate their initial thoughts. Use this as a discussion starter, asking students to explain why they feel the way they do about the ideas. Tease out the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. When this process is complete take a simple vote to choose which issue the class will follow up on.
    • Take action: As a class, discuss who is/are the best people to present the idea to. Is it the local member? The minister in charge of this area of concern? The local newspaper? A community group? Find out how to contact them. Write letters to the people that can best respond to the class idea and advocate for change.