After completing this Unit of work and associated assessment task, students will have met the achievement standard for the Year 6 Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum.
This Unit of work is organised into 3 topics.
How have key figures, events and values shaped Australian society, its system of government and citizenship?
How have experiences of democracy and citizenship differed between groups over time and place, including those from and in Asia?
How has Australia developed as a society with global connections, and what is my role as a global citizen?
Topic 1: What does it mean to be an Australian citizen?
Life in Australia (20 min)
Show students the Education Services Australia 9 values of Australian Schooling webpage. Ask students to write digitally or on a sticky note one thing they value about living in Australia.
Use the Democracy fact sheet to explain that Australia’s representative democracy can be represented by four key ideas:
- An active and engaged citizenry
- An inclusive and equitable society
- Free and franchised elections
- A rule of law for both citizens and the government
Display these ideas so students can place their sticky note against the key idea it best fits. Have students share their thoughts and encourage them to add further sticky notes as they come up with new ideas.
Portfolio assessment 1: Rights and responsibilities (45–60 min)
Discuss the differences between rights and responsibilities with the class. Explore the responsibilities, privileges and freedoms outlined in the Department of Home Affairs Australian Citizenship website. As a class, create 2 lists:
What freedoms and rights do Australian citizens have?
What responsibilities do Australian citizens have?
Ask small groups to use the rights and responsibilities in the above table to create a poster to display in the classroom.
This poster task can be used as an assessable portfolio item for this Unit of work. The task, together with the other suggested portfolio assessment items, align with the achievement standard of the Year 6 Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum, including the skills component. Teachers should use the curriculum content descriptions to develop an appropriate marking criterion and rubric.
Citizenship pledge and affirmation (25 min)
Explain that Australia and other countries such as the Philippines, Sweden and New Zealand, require new citizens to make an oath or pledge of loyalty to their new country or ruler. Show the Department of Home Affairs Australian Citizenship pledge that new citizens in Australia recite at their Citizenship Ceremony. As a class, view the Department of Home Affairs citizenship affirmation video(4 min 2 sec) and discuss how it describes the freedoms, rights and responsibilities of Australian citizens:
- Fair go – not just how we try our best but also in providing opportunity for all
- Mateship - a generosity of spirit and compassion for those in need
- Respect – of self, of others, our community and the environment
- Inclusion – acceptance and respect of difference
Divide your students into small groups and distribute WS1 Different oaths. Ask each group to compare and contrast the Australian Citizenship Pledge to the citizen oath from Canada, Philippines or Russia. Groups can report their findings to the whole class.
As a class discuss:
- Some people are lucky enough to be citizens of more than one country. How do you think this might happen?
- Does anyone in the class have experience of dual citizenship?
Human rights (45 min)
Countries have different rights, freedoms and expectations of their citizens. The United Nations has a Universal Declaration of Human rights- rights that all people on earth have, regardless of the country they live in. Show students the youth friendly version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ask students if they know of any global issues that could impact human rights.
Divide the class into small groups and assign each group an appropriate case study from the Global Education website to research and report back to the class explaining:
- The background story in their case study
- What human rights were denied
- What action (if any) was taken to address the situation
As a class, you can discuss how citizens in Australian can contribute to global issues.
Active citizens (30 min)
As a class brainstorm the ways—big and small—Australians can contribute to their community. Use Aussie of the Month principles or the Department of Home Affairs Our Community webpage to frame this discussion.
Distribute WS2 Celebrating citizenship stories, split students into small groups and assign each group a Celebrating citizenship video to watch. Students should complete the worksheet as they watch the video. Share the responses with the class and discuss the different ways the people featured in the videos contributed to their community.
As an extension, you may wish to sign your school up for the Aussie of the Month program.
Portfolio assessment 2: Citizens and representatives (60–120 min)
As a class, brainstorm a range of issues in the local area or school, such as roads which need repair. From the list, each student should select an issue, research what negative effects it has on the community and create a list of possible solutions. Students should then write a letter or email to their local, state/territory or federal representative to raise awareness of the issue and ask for support. Students can find their federal representatives on the Australian Parliament House website.
Letters/emails should include:
- A description of the issue and its cause
- The effect of the issue
- Possible solutions
- A specific request for support
This letter writing task can be used as an assessable portfolio item for this Unit of work. The task, together with the other suggested portfolio assessment items, align with the achievement standard of the Year 6 Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum, including the skills component. Teachers should use the curriculum content descriptions to develop an appropriate marking criterion and rubric.
Topic 2: Democratic institutions in Australia
System of government (20 min)
As a class, play the Parliament, Executive and Judiciary interactive to illustrate the separation of powers in Australia. Distribute WS3 The Australian system of government. Ask students to individually read through Introducing … Australia’s system of government and the Australian system of government fact sheet, and then label and annotate each of the 5 sections of the worksheet. Explain that small groups will research some of the features of Australia’s system of government and produce their research as an annotated infographic or poster. Once complete, display in the classroom.
Visit the PEO (45–90 min)
Explore how Parliament works with an interactive video conferencing session with the Parliamentary Education Office. If you have time, explore Old Parliament House in a video conferencing session with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
Three levels of government (60 min)
As a class, play the Federal, state and local interactive and then watch the ABC Behind the News Levels of government video (3 min 38 sec). Undertake the Explore the three levels of government Classroom activity. In this activity students will investigate the responsibilities of each level of government by forming taskforces to respond to major events. Consolidate class understanding by playing the Three levels of government quiz or Three levels of government Kahoot!
Electorates (15 min)
Explain that Australians are represented in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Discuss with students that there are 151 members elected to the House of Representatives and each member represents one of Australia's 151 electorates. On average, 150 000 people live in each electorate, with an average of 105 000 voters. The Senate is made up of 76 senators with 12 senators representing each state and 2 senators each representing the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
As a class, discuss why some electorates are large and some are small. Brainstorm some of the different landscapes or areas found in Australia (e.g. rural, coastal, bush, suburban). Discuss how where you live may affect the issues you would want your member to bring up in Parliament. (e.g. internet speeds, location of hospitals, highways).
Representatives (25 min)
As a class, review the Senators fact sheet and the Members of the House of Representatives fact sheet and discuss the wide range of responsibilities of senators and members. Brainstorm the skills, qualities and experiences a good representative should have.
Optional: Elections (duration varies)
Explore the Australian Electoral Commission’s Get voting education resource and hold a class election.
Extension: Interview your member (duration varies)
Invite your local senator or member to speak with your class about their work as a representative in person or via video conferencing. Find out who represents your area on the Australian Parliament House website. This page has lots of information to prepare for the class visit, including senator and member contact details, how long they have been in Parliament, what committees they are part of and their first speech. As a class, brainstorm a list of questions you would like to ask your representative. These may include:
- Why did you become a representative? How did you become a representative?
- What is one thing you have done that you are very proud of?
- How do you advocate for our electorate?
- What does your normal workday look like?
- What is the best way to contact you about community issues?
Topic 3: How are laws made?
Making a law (20 min)
Passage of a bill (90 min)
Explain to students they will now become members of parliament and will take a bill – proposed law – through the House of Representatives and Senate. As a class, develop an idea for your bill which will address a school, community or national issue. You could create a bill that addresses one of the scenarios explored in the previous activity. Using the Make a law: House of Representatives Classroom activity have your students debate and vote on the bill. After the activity, discuss the process and ask students to share whether they thought the process was effective and if it could be improved.
Extension: Senate role-play (45–60 min)
Take the bill through to the next stage with the Make a law: Senate Classroom activity. As a class, discuss the differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate, and remind them that to become a law the bill would need to be sent to the Governor-General for Royal Assent.