The highlight of every election – the democracy sausage – won’t be part of this year’s ACT election on 17 October, but a group of Palmerston parents is cooking up an idea that’s virtually as good.
Kate Baron is a committee member of the Palmerston Primary School Parents and Citizens Association, one of many in Canberra that has been forced to reinvent the quadrennial fundraising barbecue due to COVID-19 public health regulations.
She explained that the plan is to hold a virtual fundraiser where voters who would normally buy a sausage sandwich (or two) and maybe a coffee on election day can instead make a donation to their local parents and citizens groups.
“We’d normally make $3000 from our election day sausage sizzle, which goes a long way towards funding really important activities for our school,” Kate said.
“Obviously, this year we’ve had to cancel just about every fundraiser because we can’t have lots of people gathering for things like our school fete as we simply can’t control the number of people who would be attending.”
ACT Electoral commissioner Damian Cantwell has discouraged fundraising sausage sizzles anywhere near the territory’s 64 schools and 82 voting locations. The ACT Education Directorate has also told school parents and citizens groups they should not hold fundraisers near voting sites.
Kate said their committee raises up to $30,000 a year for the school and a large part of that comes from the wider community, along with parents who are regularly asked to pitch in for fundraising activities like fetes.
“We just had this idea that maybe we could get the word out into the Gungahlin community that we’d love it if people could buy a virtual democracy sausage. Although they’re not getting anything for it, you would be supporting your local school.
“This idea is also not exclusive to us,” Kate said. “If other schools are keen to join, then we’d welcome that. It’s all about thinking about your local school and what it does for the community. Schools are so important in communities and our school community has really relied on the wider community making a donation.”
The Palmerston Primary School committee is also putting together a cookbook for purchase, among other contact-free fundraising activities such as their entertainment book and lunch-order day through the school’s canteen.
Communications officer with the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations Janelle Kennard said it was extremely disappointing that schools are unable to hold the traditional election day sausage sizzle.
“It’s another blow on top of another blow for schools in Canberra,” Janelle said. Our parents and citizens committees have had really limited opportunities to fundraise this year. The other thing that’s so important is their ability to link people with the community and bring them together.
“We understand the need for public safety at the moment and we certainly don’t want to be the cause of a [COVID-19] cluster here, but the funds from these events will be sorely missed this year, as well as the buzz around being able to go down to the school and buy a democracy sausage or cake and for people to just say hello.”
The Palmerston P&C is using the Give Now platform in lieu of real sausages, and people are welcome to donate what they would usually purchase via www.givenow.com.au/palmerston or via the Palmerston District Primary School Facebook page.