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Development   /  Leeanne Torpey

Sammy J’s Constitutional Crisis

It’s time to make a song and dance about the Australian Constitution.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Yet to be attached

  • PRODUCER Sam MacMillan, aka Sammy J



Sammy J embarks on an entertaining documentary journey that takes him across Australia. To help him on his quest, Sammy joins experts, celebrities, politicians, campaigners, and local people who help him uncover how the Constitution has shaped the nation in a host of unexpected ways.

Got a problem with your Section 44? Don’t worry the Constitutional Cops are on the case. Feeling some pain in your interstate relations? Sounds like you need a Constitutional Mechanic. Or maybe you’re worried that Australia has an identity crisis? Don’t worry, we’ll find Sammy on the therapist’s couch, dressed as the founding document itself.

Sammy looks at how modern issues like COVID-19, human rights and indigenous recognition are all impacted by the Constitution. Blending traditional documentary elements with a subversive comic bent, Sammy J’s Constitutional Crisis is smart, irreverent, genuinely curious, and laugh-out-loud funny. And if you’re not careful, you just might learn something.

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0% funded
  • $250,000.00

  • $0.00

  • September 2022

  • 0

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Thanks to Hamilton, children all over Australia can now recite detailed raps about the American war of independence. But what do they know about the Australian constitution?

Survey after survey shows that Australians are disillusioned with our democracy. Only 34% of Australians are confident the government is thinking about future generations when making decisions. Covid-19 has heightened the ongoing power struggle between the States and Canberra, which has its origins in the design of our Constitution. The nation is preparing for an extraordinary referendum, which could result in changes to the Constitution, to implement the first step of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Civics and Citizenship is a cross-curricula priority of the Australian Curriculum, but we’ve recently had to revise The Melbourne Declaration to encourage young Australians to become active and informed citizens. This update has created a gap teaching resources on the topic.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Beyond the “too hard” basket. For years we’ve been told that it’s impossible to change our Constitution. Yet even the men who designed it expected the Constitution to be changed. Constitutional Crisis is a tool to enable Australians to better understand how the constitution facilitates our political system today and to “encourage public discussion and build strong evidence that constitutional change is desirable, irresistible, and inevitable” (Section 128 of the Constitution).


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

We will be guided by the campaign priorities of our stakeholder partners, and by the discovery within the story-telling. Anticipated:
Short-term outcomes
● Laughter. Lots of it!
● Increased awareness of the history of the Constitution and how it shapes issues that are at the forefront of current national conversations
Medium-term outcomes
● Engaging, informative resources developed for the Australian curriculum that encourage young Australians to become active citizens, informed by new pedagogical trends.
● Stakeholders utilising short clips and the series to generate further understanding of the Constitution, leveraging the quality storytelling
● A website to optimise the ability to utilise the resources for social impact during, and beyond, the life of the series
Long-term outcomes
● Teachers, stakeholder organisations and community leaders better equipped to lead conversations about civic engagement
● Young Australians more engaged in democratic processes and civic conversations


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The impact campaign is focused on raising awareness in school communities. A website will be designed as a hub of learning resources, and also house a stunt that will embed the impact campaign into the series. For example, in the documentary, Sammy organises for school kids on their trip to Canberra to build a giant “too-hard basket” out of large recycled plexi material. One side has quotes from eminent Australians who maintain that the constitution cannot be changed. The other side has facts about when the constitution has changed. The basket is built with the commentary side facing outwards. The school kids take the giant basket to the Parliament house lawns and take a photo. They then dis-assemble the basket, proving that the “too-hard” basket is about will, rather than facts. A community kit provides an example of how schools, and other interested groups, can recreate the stunt, send their pictures to the film team, who will upload it onto the Constitutional Crisis website.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

The project is in early stages of development, but relationships with Teachers Associations at State and Federal Level, the Teachers Federation, the History Teachers’ Association, the Museum of Australian Democracy, Education Services Australia, the Constitutional Education Fund, the Sydney Alliance, The Democracy Network and The Australian Youth Climate Coalition, The Human Rights Law Centre and other relevant organisations are planned.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

Carers / guardians of children
1. Use the show resources
2. Explore the idea of hosting screenings in your own community

Teachers and Schools
1. Screen at school
2. Utilise the Schools Guide in curriculum
3. Use the resources on the show’s website

NGOs and stakeholders
1. Contribute to resources
2. Host a screening and panel conversation

Broader communities with a focus on youth
1. Host a screening and panel conversation
2. Use the resources on the show’s website

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Metrics will be recorded to measure the way that the resources around the show are being utilised, including the number of screenings, website traffic, resource downloads, distribution lists, uptake of the community stunt action via photo uploads, mainstream media uptake and social media tracking coversations. Vox pops around screenings will also be gathered, to demonstrate and encourage reflection on what has been learnt.