When leadership turmoil gripped Canberra last month, the whole country – indeed the world – was watching.
And right in the thick of the drama were six students from Tooraweenah Public School, who were in Canberra for an excursion as part of their HSIE Civics and Citizenship unit.
The students – almost the entire year 3-6 cohort – toured Parliament House on Wednesday, August 22, just a day after the leadership spill Malcolm Turnbull won 48 votes to 35.
A day later, the House of Representatives was closed early due to the resignation of a number of Ministers, and by the Friday afternoon Mr Turnbull was no longer Prime Minister.
Relieving principal Karen Smith said the children were not totally aware of what was happening around them that week, but excited by the hustle and bustle of Canberra.
“They hadn’t really covered the leadership spill during their unit but they did a mock Parliament so they were really interested to see where the Speaker sat and where the different ministers sat and all of those things in real life,” she said.
“You could tell that they were linking that knowledge.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for the kids. We only get down there every four years and it was great that we were able to organise it during parliamentary sitting time – that was integral to them getting as much out of it as they could.”
They’re at a time in their life where they can start to understand these things and they were really fortunate to go down there.Tooraweenah Public School relieving principal Karen Smith
The kids were fascinated to watch a bill being debated in the Senate, with Pauline Hanson making her argument before the bells rang and senators had just four minutes to get to the chamber to cast their vote.
They were then keen to listen to question time on the radio.
The kids also spent a day at the snow, toured the embassies and visited Questacon, the Royal Australian Mint, the National Arboretum, Geoscience Australia’s education centre and the National Dinosaur Museum.
But Mrs Smith said the Australian War Memorial and Parliament were the most valuable experiences.
She thanked the Tooraweenah Lions Club and P and C for supporting the kids’ excursion, as many families battle the drought.
“It’s just been hugely beneficial … the impact it has on the kids and how interested they are in HSIE and how the country runs,” she said.
“They’re at a time in their life where they can start to understand these things and they were really fortunate to go down there.”