Active Citizenship in the Political Realm: The Case of Australian Secondary School Students


  • Frank Reichert The University of Hong Kong
  • Murray Print The University of Sydney


Active citizenship, citizenship education, citizen participation, civics, educational policy, political attitudes


For democratic societies to sustain, the participation of young people in political realm is of high significance, yet research suggests that adolescents are rather passive citizens. This article examines the behaviors and behavior-related attitudes of young Australians over the past almost two decades. Given significant developments in Australian civics education with regard to policy, curriculum and implementation, this article adds to the understanding of the long-term developments and potential influences of civics and citizenship education in Australia. Various data sources suggest that civics and citizenship education may have made little difference in the long term with respect to active citizenship in political realms, though we also identify promising trends that may reflect general developments rather than outcomes of civics and citizenship education. We discuss our analysis with regard to the need of long-term commitment of politics and teachers as well as deficits and further influences in civics and citizenship education outcomes.

Author Biographies

Frank Reichert, The University of Hong Kong

Frank Reichert, Dr. phil., is a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong. The National Academy of Education (NAEd) has selected him to be a 2016 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow to pursue critical research in education. His research is located in the field of political psychology, and he currently examines civic education, political knowledge and citizen participation.

Murray Print, The University of Sydney

Prof Dr Murray Print is Professor and Chair of Education at the Sydnet School of Education & Social Work, The University of Sydney. He contributed to the Discovering Democracy project and was a member of the Erebus Consulting Group that evaluated Discovering Democracy. The National Assessment Program: Civics and Citizenship (NAP-CC) was established as a consequence of his work, and he was the Lead Writer for the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship.