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 2022-23 study tour

PSoD offers up to 22 students and teacher chaperones the opportunity to take part in a week- long study tour of Melbourne and the 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 citizenship, 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 15 August and close at 11:59pm, Sunday 16 October 2022. Successful applicants will be notified in November 2022.  

Student applications

Applications open Monday 15 August and close at 11:59pm on Sunday 16 October 2022.      

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 the Smarty Grants Application.  Successful applicants will be notified in November 2022

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  PSoD 2022 Parent Carer Declaration and Copyright Permission Form (docx - 1.54mb)
  • supported in writing by the student's principal using the  PSoD 2022 Principal Statement and Declaration Form
  • 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). 

Note: applications which exceed the word or time limit will be assessed only up until the prescribed limit is reached. 

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 entry responds to the research, topic and overarching themes;
  • an explanation of the form, audience, purpose and context of the entry;
  • overall conclusions on the topic.

Theme for 2022-23

Drawing on classical Greek thinkers and reformers such as Cleisthenes and Solon, students should prepare their competition entry responding to the following prompt:      

Democracy is a channel to change that exists far beyond the ballot box and walls of parliament. Change makers are ordinary people that can make extraordinary change. Young people are uniquely placed to hold the world to account and drive change from a new perspective. Discuss, in relation to one or more of the below:                   

  • The ideas of Ancient Greek philosophers, thinkers, reformers or lawmakers,
  • A historical or current issue or campaign,
  • A historical or current change maker or leader in the local, national or global community,
  • Recent or historical law reform in Australian local, state, or federal jurisdictions.

The Department has put together a list of helpful resources to assist students with their initial research on the theme for 2022-23. Please note, these resources will need to be included in the bibliography if utilised.   

PSoD 2022 Helpful Resources (pdf - 581.97kb) 

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed against the criteria as follows:           

1. Knowledge and understanding (25%)

  • Demonstrates understanding of the origins and nature of democracy as a channel to change and its influence on modern Victorian or Australian society.
  • Demonstrates understanding and examples of change making and identifies the place of young people in this process.

2. Exploration and analysis of the topic (25%)
Provides an original commentary on the topic that is supported by a relevant example or examples in one or more of the below:

  • The ideas of Ancient Greek philosophers, thinkers, reformers or lawmakers
  • A historical or current issue or campaign
  • A historical or current change maker or leader in the local, national or global community
  • Recent or historical law reform in Australian local, state, or federal jurisdictions. 

3. Demonstration of research (20%)   

Has clear and logical links to the topic including links to classical Greek thinkers and reformers such as Solon and Cleisthenes. The submission draws from a range of sources and cites these in a bibliography.

4. Shows creativity and innovation (30%)

Shows creativity and originality in the process followed or the product produced.  

Entries will be assessed on merit and will also consider access and equity considerations ensuring a gender balance, inclusion of students from lower-income families, students from rural and regional areas, and representation from government, Catholic and independent schools. Student applications will be short-listed by an expert panel. Winning entries will be decided by the department. This decision will be final.

PSoD Changemakers

Successful applicants may choose to take part in a PSoD Changemakers 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.      

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
  • have not previously won a place on a PSoD study tour

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.

Teacher Supervisor (EOI)

Any teachers who would like to volunteer to accompany the group are to please contact the department directly to discuss the opportunity via email at spirit.of.democracy@education.vic.gov.au 

Further information

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