What is Parliament?

Discover the structure and key functions of the Australian Parliament with this short video. It introduces the Parliament’s roles of law-making, representing Australians, the formation of government and checking the work of the government.

Teachers can use this video to provide an overview of the Australian Parliament for their students. This supports the Year 6 Unit of work.

Duration: 2 min 7 sec




Opening credits showing animated shapes with the words, Understand, Teach, Book, Connect. The Parliamentary Education Office logo. Music. 

Views of the outside of Australian Parliament House.

Footage of the great verandah at Australian Parliament House and people lining up to go inside.

Narrator: The Australian Parliament meets at Parliament House in Canberra to represent the people of Australia.

This is the place where laws are made and where issues of national importance are debated and dealt with.

Footage of the House of Representatives at work. 

Footage of members and senators in a committee hearing.

Narrator: It’s where government is formed and where government is held accountable for its actions.
Animated graphic showing Parliament House, a silhouette of the King, the letters GG underlined by a laurel, a red U shape and a green U shape. Narrator: In Australia, the Parliament is made up of the Monarch, represented by the Governor-General, and 2 houses of Parliament: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Footage of people filling in ballot papers at voting booths and putting ballot papers into ballot boxes.

Animated graphic showing Australia divided up into electorates of different shapes and sizes.

Animated graphic showing Australia divided up into the 6 states and 2 territories.

Narrator: At election time, Australians vote to send a person from their local region, known as an electorate, to represent them in the House of Representatives. They also vote to send people from their state or territory to represent them in the Senate.
Animated graphic of the House of Representatives showing more than half the seats belonging to the government. Narrator: The party or coalition of parties with the support of a majority of members in the House of Representatives forms the government.

Footage of a division vote in progress in the House of Representatives.

Graphic of a bill called the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017 becoming a stack of bills.

Narrator: One of the most important things Parliament does is to make new laws or change existing ones. A proposal to change a law, or make a new one, is called a bill. Parliament considers over 100 bills each year.
Footage of a government minister introducing a bill in the Senate. Narrator: Most are introduced by government ministers.

Footage of the House of Representatives during Question Time. The Prime Minister stands at the Despatch Box.

Senators at work in a committee room.

Narrator: The actions of government are closely examined by the Parliament through processes such as Question Time and through the work of parliamentary committees.
Animated graphic showing a map of Australia, a U shape with more than half shaded, papers with a seal on them, and a magnifying glass.

Narrator: In summary, Parliament has 4 main functions. It represents the people of Australia and it’s the place where government is formed. Parliament makes and changes laws and examines the work of the government.

The Parliamentary Education Office logo. www.peo.gov.au. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2023.