Press Centre

Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs

8th March, 2001


Tom Roberts' famous painting of the opening of the first Australian parliament, "Opening of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia by HRH the Duke of Cornwall and York, May 9 1901", often known as "The Big Picture", will carry the story of Australia's democracy to thousands of schoolchildren around the country via the Internet.

The painting features on an electronic greeting card as part of a new website, "In the Artist's Footsteps", launched by the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs at Parliament House today, the 145th anniversary of Tom Roberts' birth. The launch was attended by Tom Roberts' grandson, Mr Peter Roberts.

"The new website "In the Artist's Footsteps" will bring Tom Roberts' famous painting, and the important event it depicts, to students around Australia and help them to learn more about their nation's birth," Dr Kemp said today. "The site enables students to access speeches and photos that bring to life the story of the first Parliament."

"In the Artist's Footsteps" is linked to the Government's Discovering Democracy website. Discovering Democracy is a civics and citizenship education programme which encourages students to learn about, participate in and value Australia's democratic way of life.

"Discovering Democracy helps our young people find out about Australia's democratic history, how Government works and the principles behind our democratic way of life," said Dr Kemp.

"The launch of this web site means that for students who can't visit Canberra, one of the icons of Canberra can visit them."

"By sending and receiving the e-card, and by checking out the website, students and teachers can learn more about the history of federation and the opening of Federal Parliament. Tom Roberts' painting features 265 individual portraits including those of many of the founders of the Commonwealth of Australia. This is especially appropriate for Australia's Centenary of Federation Celebrations.

The website contains detailed information about the painting and the social environment of Tom Roberts, as well as other Australian artists. Dr Kemp launched the e-card by emailing a copy to Kallista Primary School students in Victoria's Dandenong Ranges, Tom Roberts' home when he died in 1931.

The Commonwealth Government's support for civics and citizenship education in schools was boosted last year with $13.4 million additional funding through to 2004.

For further information contact: Catherine Job (02) 6277 7460 or 0408 468 400

To view images from the launch at Parliament House, Canberra Click here


Left: Arthur Streeton - Above Us The Great Grave Sky, 1890
Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

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