Demonstrations on the steps and youth sessions part of public access to Parliament House

A YMCA youth parliament exercise in session in the Legislative Council of the South Australian parliament.

Public access to Parliament House, including staging demonstrations on its steps, and a youth parliament are part of the democratic process in South Australia.

Sittings of both the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council are open and free to the public who are welcome to sit in the visitor galleries. A live radio broadcast of sittings can be heard through the parliament of South Australia website that also presents a range of education resources.

When parliament is not sitting, a guided tour is available at 10am and 2pm on weekdays.

Community and school groups can arrange visits through their local member of parliament. On a non-sitting day, students may be able to arrange to perform a parliament-style debate in one of the houses of parliament.

On a larger scale, an SA Youth Parliament program, for ages 15-24, has been conducted for more than 20 years.

It develops skills and knowledge about parliamentary systems, voting and public speaking. Scholarships are available to attend a six-day residential camp in Adelaide and then debate issues in parliament house. Bills created by the Youth Parliament are presented to the Youth Minister for the government to consider.

Demonstrations on Parliament House steps are approved by parliament’s presiding officers, subject to conditions related to behaviour and safety.

Demonstrations in city streets have been common in South Australia. One of the most dramatic was in Vietnam War moratorium protest in September 1970 next to Parliament House on the corner of North Terrace and King William Street where the police and demonstrators clashed violently.

The Vietnam War has been singled out as having “a significant impact on South Australian political life, and the course and character of opposition aroused by the war and conscription [made it] different in Adelaide than in other capital cities”. The violence of the demonstrations led to a royal commission.

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