A group of Victoria University of Wellington students have established a new civics education platform that aims to inform youth about politics.
Simplified, like its name, seeks to present politics in a simple and understandable way.
The platform covered topics from how the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system works, to the referendums New Zealanders will be voting on this October. Short clips are posted to social media explaining these topics, while their website contains more in-depth information about key areas of politics.
Speaking to Craccum, the Simplified team highlighted how they aim to address low youth voting rates and increase engagement with politics.
“If you look at statistics from the last election, 30% of youth didn’t vote as many of us are aware of, so I think it’s really key that students do turn out to vote, and do influence elections, because we’re a key demographic,” says Tim Ng, one of the platform’s Creative Directors.
Last election, 30.73% of enrolled voters aged 18-24 did not vote. For voters of Māori descent, this figure was even higher at 38.16%. Notably, electorates situated close to universities in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin have some of the lowest rates of youth enrolment. In the Auckland Central electorate, where the University of Auckland sits, only 30% of 18-24 year olds are enrolled to vote.
Sam Howard, Media Director and Video & Graphics Editor, and Alex Johnson, Creative Director, said media coverage in some areas of politics is lacking.
“I know that when I was looking to upskill myself in political awareness, I couldn’t really find a platform that had information that was accessible for someone with no foundation,” says Howard.
“A lot of [media content] at the moment is just opinion pieces, and pieces which are trying to provoke a reaction from you, and it’s not a good place for young people to start when they’re starting to learn about politics,” Johnson says.
Johnson and the Simplified team point to events like the School Strikes 4 Climate as evidence that youth are interested in political issues, and hope that their platform can allow young people to explore politics further.
To ensure the information they provide is accurate and unbiased, Simplified content draws from a range of sources such as peer-reviewed academic articles, government websites and the Electoral Commission. “You can’t fit everything about politics in a one minute social media clip, so we make sure the audience is aware of that and that they have opportunities to go out and explore further,” says Niva Chittock, Creative Director.
While the platform regularly posts content related to the upcoming election, they aim to keep promoting civics education long-term.
“We are going to continue on past October 17th, because we feel that political awareness is just as important during a time of no election, because that’s when the changes that affect our lives are being made,” says Howard.
You can find Simplified on Facebook (facebook.com/simplified.nz) and Instagram (@simplified_nz), and check out their website at simplified.org.nz