Old Parliament House becomes an Australian-first museum
On 18 February, 2009, Special Minister of State, Senator John Faulkner announced that Australia’s much loved heritage-listed landmark, Old Parliament House, will become the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
Scheduled to open on 9 May 2009, the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House will be Australia’s first museum dedicated to telling the story of our democracy and aims to encourage Australians to understand and participate in our democracy. Visitors will be able to celebrate, debate and experience the past, present and future of Australian democracy.
“We’re excited to reveal that the Museum of Australian Democracy is in the final stages of development within the existing Old Parliament House building,” says Director of Old Parliament House, Ms Jenny Anderson. “The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House will enhance the role of Old Parliament House as an essential part of the Australian story, and a place that captures the essence of our democratic way of life.”
The announcement coincides with Newspoll research commissioned by Old Parliament House, that indicates that almost every adult Australian (94%) values living in a democratic society, yet seven in ten (76%) do not understand the relevance of democracy to their everyday life.
These findings affirm the importance of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House to our nation, explains Ms Anderson, “It’s important that Australians understand that democracy isn’t just something you have, but something you live day-to-day, connecting all facets of your life. Democracy isn’t just about politics but about stories of real people using their voice to do extraordinary things.”
To build momentum in the lead up to the opening of the new Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House in May, a national campaign called What’s on your mind? is being launched to engage Australians in the democratic process in a fun and entertaining way.
Australians are being invited to decide the social and cultural topic most on their mind by voting at a new website, whatsonyourmind.moad.gov.au. The topic which receives the most votes will be presented at the What’s on your mind? debate on 8 May 2009, which will form part of the launch for the opening of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
Australians will also be invited to vote for nominated well-known Australians they would like to see present their position at the debate.
Topics on which Australians can vote were compiled after Newspoll research explored social and cultural subjects high on the agenda of Australians. It uncovered that health and happiness of Australian families (97%); the cost of living (98%) the overall state of our nation (92%) and Australia’s youth (91%) are top of mind in 2009.
Ms Anderson encourages everyone in Australia to take part and influence the outcome of the What’s on your mind? debate.
“It’s up to Australians to shape the What’s on your mind? debate whilst celebrating all that democracy enables us to do,” concludes Ms Anderson.