15 - 18 lessons
This unit of work is aligned with the Year 6 Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum. It includes informal and formal assessment items with differentiated options to suit student capabilities. It also contains background information for teachers, a list of resources and student worksheets.
15 - 18 lessons
Before you begin
Background information for teachers
- Australian Constitution
- Making a law in the Australian Parliament
- Ministers and shadow ministers
- Parliament House
- Separation of powers: Parliament, Executive and Judiciary
- The roles and responsibilities of the three levels of government
- Classroom activities:
- Printed worksheets and assessment sheets available in the toolkit.
- Get Parliament online or printed version and corresponding activity sheets.
- Capacity for whole class to watch PEO videos.
- Computers/devices for students to conduct research.
- Before you run your class role-plays, see the DIY resources in the Make a Law: House of Representatives and Make a Law: Senate classroom activity toolkits.
An alternative to parts of Section 3 is Parliament of Wizards. This resource contains activities for teachers and students to create a wizard world, complete with its own parliament. In this world, students become wizards and face the challenge of representing and making decisions on behalf of their wizard citizens.
Lessons for this unit have been divided into sections to provide flexibility for individual classroom needs. Each section suggests approximate running times.
Section 1 – What is the Australian system of government?
Approximately 3 lessons
Tasks 1–3 = one lesson
Tasks 4–7 = one lesson
Tasks 8–10 = one lesson
What are the key institutions of Australia's system of government?
Give students the Concept map to complete for the first time, including Date 1. This will be revisited at the end of the unit to show student progress.
Hand out Worksheet 1. Brainstorm in pairs and then as a class before giving definitions:
- What does 'system of government' mean?
A system of government is a system of rule in a state or country.
- What is democracy?
A democracy is a system of government in which the people have a say about how they are governed.
- What is Australia's system of government?
Australia is both a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy.
- What other countries influenced Australia's system of government?
Both the British Westminster system and the United States (US) federal model have influenced the Australian system of government. As a result, Australia's system is sometimes known as 'Washminster', reflecting features of both the British and US systems.
Optional activity— If you would like your class to explore the concept of democracy further, play the Australian Electoral Commission’s What is democracy? concept game with the class. This can be found in Topic 1: Activity 1 of Democracy Rules.
What is Parliament?
Using the Separation of powers fact sheet show students the table and diagram of the separation of powers and briefly explain its purpose. Ask students to copy the table and diagram in their workbooks, to illustrate the separation of powers. Show students the Playing fair interactive.
As a class, watch the What is Parliament? video.
Show students the Parliament of Australia infographic. Ask them to draw a similar graphic in their books.
Using the Governor-General fact sheet explain to students the Governor-General's role in representing the Queen in Australia.
Ask students to think of at least 5 questions about Parliament House in Canberra. Depending on students' familiarity with Parliament House, these questions could range from 'what does it look like?' or 'what is it for?' to 'what work is done in the Senate?'
Give students time to research the answers to these questions. Ask students to partner up to share what they have learned about Parliament House. This information could be collated and displayed in the classroom under the heading 'what we know about Parliament House'.
Take the class on a virtual tour of Parliament House.
Section 2 – What are the roles and responsibilities of Australia's three levels of government?
Approximately 4 to 6 lessons, including assessment
Tasks 1–4 = one lesson
Tasks 5–6 = one to two lessons
Tasks 7–8 = two to three lessons
What are the different levels of government responsible for?
Brainstorm in small groups: 'What services are needed to run a country?' Discuss the answers with the whole class.
As a class, watch the Three levels of government video.
Go through the Three levels of law-making section of Get Parliament online with the class.
Hand out Worksheet 2: What are some roles and responsibilities of the three levels of government?. Students can use information from the Three levels of government video, Get Parliament online or from The roles and responsibilities of the three levels of government fact sheet to complete the table.
Hand out Workshop 3: Shared roles and responsibilities of the three levels of government. Conduct a class discussion about which roles and responsibilities might be shared by different levels of government. Students can use this information and the completed Worksheet 2 to individually complete the Venn diagram. Allow students time to complete the 2nd section of the worksheet.
Note: this worksheet has 3 differentiated options, increasing in difficulty from A to C.
Using Three levels of law-making section of Get Parliament online and the corresponding activity sheet (PDF), select activities for students to complete. Choose these before the class begins as some activities require computer access, further resources or longer timeframes.
Who represents me?
Show students which levels of government they are represented by, for example, the Australian Parliament, the Victorian Parliament and the Southern Grampians Shire Council.
Hand out and explain Assessment 1: Individual research project. This covers parts of Sections 1 and 2. Students can be given 2 to 3 hours to complete the assessment, using the content of the previous lessons and further research.
Section 3 – How are laws made?
Approximately 8 to 9 lessons
Tasks 1–2 = one lesson
Tasks 3–5 = three lessons
Tasks 6–7 = three to four lessons
Tasks 8–9 = one lesson
Where can ideas for new laws come from and how do they become law?
Go through the Making a law in the Australian Parliament fact sheet and Ministers and shadow ministers fact sheet with the class. Discuss where bills can originate, the role of executive government in developing bills and how the public service works with ministers to prepare new laws.
As a class, brainstorm a list of issues in Australian society, such as education or the environment, and select one issue to focus upon.
Think about a new law that could be made about the selected issue. Make your idea for a law into a statement explaining what your law will do, including the words ‘Bill’ and ‘Act’. For example: The No Homework Bill. A Bill for an Act to ban homework in all Australian schools.
In small groups, create a list of 3 arguments for and against the bill, and a change that could be made to improve the bill. Share these with the class.
Discuss the passage of a bill through the Parliament with the class, using The usual path of a bill diagram.
Ask students to reflect on the role-plays. Discuss as a whole class and then ask students to draw a flow chart of the passage of a bill in their workbooks.
Ask students to write 2 to 3 paragraphs to reflect on the role-play, including how well the role-play went and their own participation. What worked or didn't work? Why or why not?
Ask students to complete the concept map, including Date 2.
Learning outcomes for assessments
Individual research project
Students research the 3 levels of government and the people who represent their communities
- explain the key institutions of Australia's democratic system of government
- examine the roles and responsibilities of Australia's three levels of government
- describe the responsibilities of representatives in Australia's democracy.
Group work project
Students consider current issues in Australia and devise ideas for bills that the Parliament could debate. They:
- develop appropriate questions and collect relevant information
- generate a response to an issue
- present their ideas and viewpoints using discipline-specific terms and conventions.
Informal assessment—linked to curriculum content descriptions
Role-play participation and reflection
Students role-play the passage of a bill through the parliament.
- describe where ideas for new laws can come from and how they become law.
- participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions
- use interaction skills, varying conventions of spoken interactions such as voice volume, tone, pitch and pace, according to group size, formality of interaction and needs and expertise of the audience.
- Curriculum alignment
- Assessment 1: Individual research project
- Concept map
- Worksheet 1
- Worksheet 2: What are some of the roles and responsibilities of the three levels of government?
- Worksheet 3: Shared roles and responsibilities of the three levels of government
- Parliament of Australia.
- The usual path of a bill.