The Australia Day Study Tour is an enthralling trip offered to students in Year 11, who have an interest in their community and the three levels of government. Being the first student from BGS to be selected for this program, I can tell you that there is no better way to learn about the three levels of government. Ten students from different schools are selected to go on this program, selected by a panel which includes officials from the City of Casey. All the 10 students receive the award at an Australia Day awards ceremony.
There are three stages to this program:
The first stage is the local government stage where we all visited various places around the shire of Casey. We got to visit the building site of Bunjil Place and learned about how the idea originated and the progress of construction. We also went on a bus tour around the shire, gaining valuable information about the history of Berwick such as the story behind the Wilson Botanical Gardens. We returned to the council chambers to have dinner with the councillors and witnessed first-hand a council meeting.
The second stage was a full day at state government and consisted of the group meeting with various MP’s in State Parliament who represented this electorate. We learned about the life of an MP at State Parliament and also got a ‘shout out’ from one of the MP’s in question time. Question Time is notorious for the lack of manners that the MP’s have to each other and it was no different when we were there. The day finished off with one of the MP’s shouting us afternoon tea and speaking about various topics prevalent in our society.
The third stage, and the one all of us were looking forward to, was a four day trip to Canberra. The first day kicked off with us visiting the National Gallery of Australia, the High Court, National Archives of Australia and a cruise around Lake Griffith. We ended the jam-packed day with a visit to Mt Ainslie and ready for the next day which was a full day at Parliament. Parliament Day was the highlight of the trip, visiting the federal MPs who represent our area and we also got to meet the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Turnbull. It also happened to be my 16th birthday and I got wished by the PM himself which was a special moment for me. The third day was another packed day spent visiting the Old Government House where we acted out the 1975 dismissal of the Prime Minister, the Governor General’s House and the Australian Institute of Sport. The day ended with the group heading down to AMF bowling and all of us having a great time. The last day consisted of us visiting the Australian Defence Force Academy, National Electorate Commission, where some of us registered to vote, and the War Memorial. The day ended with us going to Canberra Centre before flying back to Melbourne.
This is a trip that I would really recommend to all the students in Year 10 as it is really a once in a lifetime chance. Despite the name ‘study tour’ it’s almost like a holiday; you get to learn about places that you wouldn’t normally visit. Believe me, there are a lot more interesting things in Parliament than people think. You make lifelong friendships with the rest of the group and with the MP’s that you meet and the thing is, you pay for nothing. Everything is provided for, from flights, to accommodation, to food. It is really a great trip and I really urge the students in or below Year 10 to apply for this program, because if you are fortunate enough to experience, I promise you, you will never forget it.
Year 11 student