Create your own electorate

Consider how communities around our country are represented in the Australian Parliament.

Students
Years 5 to 12
Duration
2 lessons

Getting started

  1. Use the Australian Electoral Commission’s Federal election boundaries map to discuss the following questions:
    • Why are the electorates different shapes and sizes?
    • How do electorates choose representatives?
  2. Use the Australian Electoral Commission website to discover the following information about the electorate your school is in:
    • Name and its meaning
    • Size (population and area)
    • Demographic rating (e.g. Inner metropolitan, Rural).

The electorate of…

  1. Tell students that they will be creating their own electorate and naming it after themselves. They may choose to base their electorate on somewhere they have been, or somewhere they would like to go. You could also ask your students to base their electorate on a real electorate and use the Australian Bureau of Statistics Electorate profiles to gather information or you can allow them to be creative.
  2. Ask students to write down the following information about their electorate:

Name of electorate

(include the meaning behind the name)

 

Location and size

(where is it in Australia and how big is it?)

 

People

(what kind of people live here - age groups, families, cultural diversity, income)

 

Issues

(what is important to the people who live here - for example, house prices, public transport, internet speeds, drought)

 

3. Ask students to share their electorate with the class. This could be done as a poster or a PowerPoint presentation.

The member for…

  1. As a class brainstorm the qualities of a good representative. What kind of skills, qualities and experience should they have?
  2. Now ask students to imagine that they have been elected to represent their electorate. They select one of the issues affecting their electorate and think about what could be done and who could help. For example, if the issue is educational opportunities for young people, they could work with the community to organise homework clubs in local schools or they could talk to the Minister for Education about funding more scholarships

First speeches

  1. Discuss with students the purpose of a first speech. For example, the first speech allows members to outline their visions and hopes, to thank those who have helped them get elected, acknowledge people who have inspired them and speak about the needs of their electorate. It becomes a public record that other members of parliament, the public, and the media, may refer to in the future.
  2. You can find your representative’s first speech by searching for your electorate on the Senators and Members page of the Australian Parliament House website. Each member’s page includes a link to their first speech.
  3. Ask the students to write a first speech to present to the Parliament.
  4. The speech can be any length. You should set a time limit that suits the age and ability of your students.
  5. In their speech, students should describe:
  • Why they wanted to become a member of parliament
  • What they hope to achieve
  • Issues (local, national, or global) that they are concerned about.
  1. Select a student to be the Speaker
  2. The Speaker calls each student to speak in turn and asks them to stand as they give their speech. At the end of their speech each student is applauded or congratulated by the other members.

What happened?

  1. Did some of the electorates have similar issues? Why do you think that is?
  2. What are some ways that a representative can help the electorate apart from making speeches in Parliament?