The International Day of Democracy is marked annually on September 15. It is a day to reflect on the state of democracy around the world and an opportunity for us to learn about the development of democracy in New South Wales. The United Nations established the day in 2007, encouraging all member states to honour and raise awareness of the principles of democracy annually on September 15.
The word ‘democracy’ comes from two Greek words: demos (the people) and kratos (rule). This “government by the people” is a system in which the highest power is given to the people and used by them or by their elected representatives under a free electoral system.
There are different forms of democracy around the world, but in Australia, and New South Wales we use a system of representative democracy. This means that citizens elect representatives to parliament and these representatives make decisions on their behalf.
NSW Parliament is the first and oldest Parliament in Australia. Its beginnings came in 1823 when the British Government legislated for a Legislative Council to be established in New South Wales to assist the Governor in the legislative process. In 1824 the first meeting of the Legislative Council was held with the members appointed by the Governor.
In 1855, a new constitution was drafted, making the NSW Parliament bicameral – a Parliament with two legislative chambers. The introduction of the Legislative Assembly, the lower house where members are elected by the people, meant the beginning of representative democracy in NSW. And so began a period of government for New South Wales that looks much more like what we recognise today.
To learn more about the development of democracy in New South Wales and how our democracy works in practice, take a look at the following resources:
- Take a closer look at the development of democracy timeline
- Find out about the role of Government and the role of Parliament
- Learn about a citizen’s rights and responsibilities in a democracy
- Understand the concept of the ‘separation of powers’
There are many ways you can get involved in democracy in New South Wales: