Strengthening our Democracy Through Empowering Young People

Young people are an essential part of our democracy. Their voice, agency and active participation from a young age are important to their overall development as empowered, engaged citizens. To help prepare students for the future, engage them in contemporary issues and cultivate the development of their soft skills (21st century skills) we need to develop their media literacy skills from a young age.

Being media literate is the ability to critically engage with news and information in a variety of contexts, as well as being able to create media. The continuous news cycle, changing social media applications, internet, blogs, podcasts, television, advertising and radio content means young people are constantly exposed to media they need to interpret and critically reflect on.

To effectively support young people, we need to develop their critical thinking skills, including awareness of representation, bias and misinformation.

Dr Stephanie Smith

Learning Manager, Museum of Australian Democracy

Author Bio

Dr Stephanie Smith is the Learning Manager at the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) Old Parliament House, Canberra. Her work involves empowering young people to amplify their voice through the development of leadership skills, building solution focused mindsets and growing their media literacy skills. Steph has experience working in primary classrooms and a variety of cultural institutions across Australia.

Her research explores inquiry learning, professional development and play-based learning in primary settings. She is passionate about incorporating authentic student voice into classrooms, community and our democracy. Steph has a particular interest in picture books and champions there use especially in the Civics and Citizenship space. She has worked with leading Australian author and illustrator Philip Bunting on a children’s non-fiction book Democracy!