2012 marks two significant federal electoral events – the centenary of compulsory enrolment and the 50th anniversary of the Indigenous right to vote.
For the AEC, these anniversaries are an opportunity to draw attention to one of our biggest challenges – ensuring Australians have the chance to exercise their democratic right to enrol and vote.
That is why the AEC has designated 2012 as the Year of Enrolment with a program of events that will focus on reminding people of their electoral rights and responsibilities.
The Year of Enrolment includes a program of activities, designed to increase awareness about the need to enrol to vote.
The official launch was held at Parliament House on Monday, 19 March.
A 2012 calendar featuring Indigenous community leaders and cultural identities was released at the start of the year.
The AEC's 100 years of compulsory enrolment commemorative stamp, created by Australia Post, went into public circulation on 27 March. A series of philatelic products for stamp collectors was also produced.
The AEC sponsored the RockIT talent quest. Young people were asked to produce an original piece of music to inspire Australians to have a voice and participate in democracy.
Jacklyn Szetu took out the industy and people's choice awards in the Junior RockIT category with her song, Make yourself heard.
Brendan Maclean won the people's choice and industry awards in the senior category, with his song, Must be mountains.
They each won a $3 000 music voucher for the industry award and a iPad 32g Wi-Fi/3G for the people's choice award.
A resource kit of promotional products was distributed to Members of Parliament and other supporters to help educate Australians about the need to enrol to vote.
At the Year of Enrolment launch, the AEC released a commemorative DVD, which includes the history of the Indigenous vote and interviews with Indigenous Australians about the value of voting.
The AEC will fund three lunchtime seminars about 'the challenge of improving electoral participation'.
The first seminar in Melbourne on Tuesday 4 September 2012 brought together the AEC Commissioner, senior AEC staff, academics and politicians to discuss the challenges of youth electoral participation.
Dr Aaron Martin launched his book Young People and Politics and discussed declining enrolment and turnout rates among young Australians.
AEC Commissioner Ed Killesteyn spoke of the challenges to maintaining a healthy democracy in his speech From Enrolment to Voting: A New Debate.
The next seminar will be held in Sydney on Thursday 18 October and is titled 'Beyond YES/NO: Ideas for Engaging Ordinary Citizens in Constitutional Referendums'.
The final seminar is scheduled for Brisbane on 19 November 2012 and will discuss 'Participation or Stagnation? Parties and Participation in the US and Australia'.
The AEC held a week-long leadership program for 48 young Indigenous Australians, in Canberra during May finishing with a mock parliament held at Old Parliament House.
The AEC mailed Australian households to encourage enrolment, supported by a digital advertising campaign, social media and public relations activities.
The AEC produced a new, improved online enrolment form to make it easier for people to enrol online or update their details.
The AEC will roll out a new education outreach program for schools and the community. The programs innovative approach will aim to build practical understanding of elections.
Compulsory enrolment is the foundation for Australia's distinctive electoral system. Compulsory enrolment formally commenced in Australia on 27 March 1912.
In 1962, Indigenous people achieved the right to vote in federal elections. It was not compulsory to enrol but once enrolled it was compulsory to vote. This allowed Indigenous people to vote in the 1967 referendum, which amended the Constitution to give the Commonwealth the power to count Indigenous people in the census and make special laws for their benefit.