Forming the Australian government

Find out how the Australian government is formed and who makes up the Executive with this interactive poster. Use the teaching notes and activities to support your students' learning. 

Teaching notes and activities

Curriculum links

Year 5: ACHASSK115      
Year 6: ACHASSK143      
Year 7: ACHCK048           
Year 9: ACHCK075; ACHCK103

Before you begin

Read the Government and Cabinet fact sheets to explore the role and functions of both. Then use the Federal elections fact sheet to understand how federal elections are run to select people to represent Australians in the Australian Parliament.

Getting started

These discussion starters are listed from easier to more complex. Choose the ones that work best for your class.

  1. How is the Australian Government formed?
  2. Ministers are members of parliament chosen to look after portfolios – areas of responsibility – such as education, health and defence. If you were Prime Minister, what qualities would you look for in your ministers?
  3. Who forms Cabinet? What does Cabinet do?
  4. Cabinet is the top-level decision-making group within the Australian Government. ‘Cabinet solidarity’ means that all Cabinet ministers are expected to publicly support the decisions they make as a group. Why do you think this tradition is followed?
  5. Unlike the work of Parliament, which is watched by the media and the public, Cabinet meetings are strictly confidential. How might meeting in private help the Cabinet stay united in public? In your opinion, should the public and/or the media be able to witness the work of Cabinet? Why/why not?


Australian government research activity

Organise the class into small groups of at least 5 members. Using the following fact sheets, each group member researches the roles and responsibilities of one of the following:

Challenge each student to come up with 5 dot points to summarise their fact sheet. Then, ask each group to work together on a poster that illustrates – in a clear and accessible way – the structure of the Australian Government, including each of the people and groups they have researched.


After looking at the interactive poster and completing some of the activities, discuss this question swith your class:

  • Sometimes after a federal election, a majority government is not formed because the largest team doesn’t have more than half of the seats in the House of Representatives. When this happens, negotiations take place until one team can show they have the support of the majority of members. If you had to lead the negotiations, who would you look to for help? How would you convince them to give you their support?