Fake news, Facebook and fear: the importance of education and political engagement in the digital age

Published 13 August 2019

Gunnedah local and newly appointed New South Wales Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, will deliver the annual Earle Page College politics lecture at the University of New England on Thursday, August 15.

In her talk, Minister Mitchell will explore the impact of fake news, the importance of media literacy and the ability to engage critically with the messages we see around us – particularly in relation to our political engagement.

“Thanks to the rapid evolution of technology, any information we need today can be easily accessed by a click of a button,” Ms Mitchell said.

“As a politician, I need to ensure I am critically analysing the news I am reading; I need to consume articles from a number of publications and I need to do it frequently to ensure I am getting a broad range of information from different sources.

“I always find discussion on this topic incredibly interesting. I like to encourage young people, as the future of our country, to ensure they are well-versed on all different types of perspectives on issues, and I believe this comes from regular and comprehensive analysis of the news they have access to.

“Politicians know better than anyone; you can’t trust everything you read!”

Born and raised in Gunnedah, NSW, Minister Mitchell entered politics in 2011. In 2017, she was appointed Minister for Early Childhood Education, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Assistant Minister for Education.

Minister Mitchell has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in politics, international relations and sociology from the University of New South Wales. She is passionate about education, particularly in the regional and remote parts of NSW. As Minister, she is committed to ensuring every child, no matter where they are from, has access to a top-quality education.

“I strongly believe every child – whether they are from Armidale or Annandale – should have access to a top quality education,” Ms Mitchell said.

“As a mother of two daughters, one in Kindergarten and one in day care, I am personally invested in the portfolios I look after.”

Now in its 35th year, the lecture is an important town-and-gown event for the university, Armidale and the region. Over the years it has offered attendees a range of political opinions on significant public issues from both sides of the spectrum.

The community is warmly invited to this free public lecture which starts at 6pm and will be held in the Austin College Dining Hall.