Premier's spirit of democracy


The Premier's Spirit of Democracy (PSoD) Study Tour explores the origins of democracy, building a deeper understanding of the influence that democracy has on contemporary Victorian and Australian society. It is an annual competition open to students enrolled in Years 9, 10 and 11.

Apply for the 2021-22 study tour

PSoD offers up to 22 students and up to four teacher chaperones the opportunity to take part in a five-day study tour of Melbourne and Canberra during the Term 1 school holidays. 

From ancient Greek philosophy to the arts, modern civic studies, court processes, and politics, to science, PSoD offers a dynamic exploration of modern democracy and what it means for young Australians.

The carefully curated study tour maintains strong links to learning outcomes from the Victorian senior secondary curriculum. It is aimed at students wishing to build their critical and creative thinking and would suit students with interests in, civics and citizenships, history, philosophy, legal studies, and English as well as a broad interest in developing leadership skills. 

Students will gain the skills and understanding needed to participate in our democratic structures and institutions so that they can use their voice to lead positive change in their communities and shape the future.

See the promotional poster (pdf - 559.24kb)

Applications open Monday 4 October and close at 11:59, Sunday 7 November 2021. Successful applicants will be notified in December 2021. 

Student applications

Applications open Monday 4 October and close at 11:59pm on Sunday 7 November 2021.

To enter, students can apply in the form of:

  • Essay
  • Short story
  • Audio/video presentation
  • Musical composition or artwork.

Please note: Applicants must submit a statement of intent with any non-essay entries.

All students must be supported by their parent/carer and principal.

Submit your application online via Student Application . Successful applicants will be notified in December 2021.

Application criteria

Applications must be related to the theme and be:

  • the student's own work with no assistance from their family, school staff or friends
  • compliant with copyright laws and include references (where applicable)
  • supported in writing by the student's parent/carer using the parent consent form
  • supported in writing by the student's principal using the principals' student endorsement form (docx - 1.53mb)
  • in English
  • in one of the specified formats outlined below, and
  • submitted by the given deadline via the online platform noting that:
    • all written entries and statements of intent must be submitted as a word or pdf file, using Arial 11 font with 1.5 spacing between lines. Word count does not include references or footnotes.
    • all artwork must be submitted as an image file
    • file size must not exceed 25MB. Entries, such as video or audio submissions, which exceed the file size can be uploaded to a public website (such as YouTube) and the url link can be attached as a pdf or word document.

Specified formats

Competition entries must be in one of the following specified formats:

  • an essay up to 800 words
  • a short story or another literary format up to 800 words
  • an audio presentation, such as a podcast (maximum 5 minutes)
  • a video presentation, such as a short film or dance (maximum 5 minutes)
  • a musical composition, such as an original song (maximum 5 minutes)
  • an artwork (painting, drawing, photograph, textile or other art form). 

Statement of intent

Students submitting a non-essay entry must also submit a statement of intent (up to 200 words). It will be assessed in conjunction with the submission against the assessment criteria and should indicate:

  • how the research/exploration was conducted
  • how the selected format relates to the research and topic
  • overall conclusions on the topic.

Theme for 2021-22

Drawing on classical Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, students should prepare their competition entry responding to:

Ancient democracy is often viewed as a system of government where the citizens of the city-state held the power. The ability to choose one's government and fully participate is essential to an inclusive and fair society.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be considered using this assessment matrix:

1. Knowledge and understanding (25%)
Demonstrates understanding of the origins and complexities of democracy, and its influence on modern Victorian or Australian society.

2. Exploration and analysis of the topic (25%)
Provides an original commentary on the topic is supported by a wide range of relevant examples. Examples could include but are not limited to:

    1. student participation and their contribution to school, Victorian, or Australian community, as active and informed citizens.
    2. references to important moments in history.
    3. emergence of popular culture and artistic expression.
    4. contemporary issues of civic importance.
    5. student participation and their contribution to school, Victorian, or Australian community, as active and informed citizens.

3. Demonstration of research (20%) Has clear and logical links to the topic including links to classical Greek philosophy or philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. The submission draws from a range of sources and cites these in a bibliography.

4. Shows creativity and innovation (30%)
Entries will be assessed on merit and will also consider access and equity considerations such as ensuring a gender balance, inclusion of students from rural and regional areas, and representation from government, Catholic and independent schools.

Student applications will be short-listed by an expert panel. Final winners will be decided by the department. The panel's decision will be final. 

Emerging leader's initiative

Successful applicants may choose to take part in an emerging leaders initiative as part of the program. The initiative allows students to lead and implement a school improvement project and present it to their school council. Each project will need to showcase civics and citizenship as well amplifying student voice and agency in the school community. Further information and support material will be provided to the successful schools for consideration. Schools may choose to opt-out of this part of the program.  

    Teacher expressions of interest

    Teachers are invited to submit an expression of interest outlining a professional practice project which they could undertake while on the tour. Teachers must obtain support from their principal before applying.

    Submit your EOI online via Teacher Chaperone Expression of Interest by 11:59 pm on Sunday 7 November 2021. Successful applicants will be notified in December 2021.

    Application criteria

    Applications must be:

    • supported in writing by the teacher's principal using the principals' teacher endorsement form (docx - 1.53mb)
    • submitted via the online platform by the given deadline
    • no longer than 800words. Word count does not include any references or footnotes
    • submitted as a word or pdf file, using Arial 11 font with 1.5 spacing between lines.

    Teacher professional practice project

    Teachers who take part in the study tour may choose to create a professional practice project aligned to the PSoD outcomes. The project will allow teachers to further develop their professional practice, as well as their knowledge of the civics and citizenship curriculum and pedagogy, student voice, agency, and leadership. Further information and support material will be provided to the selected teachers' schools for consideration. Schools may choose to opt out of this part of the program.

    Developing a professional practice project

    To develop ideas, teachers are encouraged to:

    • reflect on the benefits of their participation in PSoD and establish a line of inquiry which would be of benefit to their school community, their colleagues and themselves
    • negotiate with their principal and agree on a focus area of teaching or learning practice; relevant curriculum area, or professional interest (linked to their professional development plan) that has direct application to their school
    • determine the way in which information will be collected
    • consider how they will implement and share these learnings as a representative of PSoD.

    To frame the research of the focus area and direct the collection of information, it may be useful to develop questions that are clear and achievable in the context of the study tour, such as:

    • How can I use the civics and citizenship curriculum to support student voice in my school community?
    • How can I empower students to take initiative in their school community?
    • Why is it imperative to support students to understand democratic systems and processes to advocate for themselves and others?
    • How can I use Greek history and philosophy to encourage my students to think critically and creatively about the social structures that influence their lives and freedoms?

    Selection

    Applications will be short-listed and considered by a panel of departmental, Catholic Education Victoria and Independent Schools Victoria representatives. The panel's decision will be final. 

    Eligibility criteria

    Eligibility for students

    To be eligible to participate in PSoD, students must:

    • be enrolled in Year 9, 10 or 11 of a Victorian government, Catholic or independent school at the time of application and enrolled in Year 10, 11 or 12 at the time of travel
    • have parent/carer's permission to participate
    • have the Principal/Principal delegate support to participate

    If successful, students must be prepared to:

    • comply with the Student Code of Conduct
    • participate in pre and post travel briefings
    • share the learnings and insights gained from your PSoD experience with the school community or as a representative of PSoD.

    Eligibility for teacher chaperones

    To be eligible for selection, teachers must:

    • be employed by a Victorian government, Catholic or independent school at the time of expressing interest and at the time of travel
    • have the Principal/Principal delegate support to participate
    • have a minimum of three years secondary school experience
    • have experience in accompanying and supervising students on outdoor activities and excursions; preferably having accompanied student groups on multi-day excursions
    • have a current first aid certificate, including training for anaphylaxis, or be prepared to get this in time for the study tour.
    • have a level of intercultural capability and a willingness to embrace new experiences
    • aspire to student-centered teaching practice, preferably with existing experience in relevant curriculum areas.

    If successful, teachers must:

    • agree to comply with the Teacher Code of Conduct 
    • have Principal/Principal delegate support to participate in pre and post travel briefings
    • be prepared to share the learnings and insights gained from your PSoD experience with the school community or as a representative of PSoD. 

    Further information

    If you have any questions, email spirit.of.democracy@edumail.vic.gov.au