Civics education and human rights

LexisNexis Butterworths
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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Human Rights, 2003, 9 (1), pp. 236 - 255
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Many commentators have observed that in the field of public law, and in debate over law reform regarding significant national issues such as reconciliation for indigenous peoples, a Bill of Rights and a Republic, the Australian community lacks the requisite civics knowledge (Williams 2000a: 43; Saunders 2001; Zinn 1999; Grossman 1999; Brearley 2000; Haesler quoted in Cook 2002). This `civics deficit has been confirmed by two federally supported studies (Civics Education Group 1994). The result is that the promotion and generation of interest in major public law reform is hindered. As Greg Barns observed of the recent Republican Referendum outcome: ... when it comes to public education, the reality is that if people do not understand the change they are being asked to sanction, then they wont do it. The lack of civics education in this country is fertile ground for scare tactics (Barns 2000).
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