words Isaac Solomon
I wanted to talk a little bit today about democracy.
If we can say anything about this year, it’s that we’ve seen democracy in practice. We’ve been to the polls twice already, with local government elections set to take place between October and November. Still, those students who live in the state electorate of Bragg will also be voting up to four times this year, with the recent resignation of their local member.
A sizeable number of UniSA students will vote 3 or 4 times this year, having only voted for the first time in March, but not too long ago this wouldn’t have been the case. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about democracy in South Australia.
In 1970, South Australia elected a new Premier by the name of Don Dunstan. Amongst many other reforms we sometimes take for granted today, Dunstan took to the election a pledge to lower the age of majority from 21 to 18. This meant that for the first time 18–20-year-olds could drink, gamble, serve on juries, enter into bringing contracts and most importantly, VOTE. Had these laws not changed in 1971, almost half of UniSA’s students wouldn’t have the right to vote today. Our voices would not be heard and our interests rarely, if ever, taken into account.
Our student lounge, at City West Campus, sits in the Catherine Helen Spence building. Catherine Spence, a South Australian woman born in Scotland was one of the major leaders of the women’s suffrage movement in SA and around the world. On 18 December 1894, South Australia became the second place in the world where women could vote and the only place in the world where women could stand for election. It took another 65 years before the first female Member of Parliament was elected.
Sometimes, we can take our right to vote for granted but throughout the years, students have been at the forefront of political change in this country. While in countries like Ukraine, we see people fighting and dying for the right to a democracy; it’s a reminder of just how important our vote is.
Determining the course of history by numbering a few boxes… voting is the biggest change you will ever make with so little effort.
Until next time,