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Teaching

Mini role-play lesson plans

Mini role-play lesson plans [PDF 1.1Mb, 13 pages]

More ways to have your say: mini role-plays in the Parliament

Most of the Parliament’s time is taken up by government business which is introduced by government ministers. However, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, time is reserved for government backbenchers and non-government members of parliament to raise issues. In the House this is called private members’ business and in the Senate it is referred to as general business.

Members of parliament have an opportunity to raise issues of concern, speak on behalf of constituents, question government actions and call on the government to act on a matter. These formal opportunities include discussing Matters of Public Importance (MPIs) and Members’ 90 second statements. Time is also set aside for new members of parliament to make a first speech.

These mini role-plays allow students to explore the role of members of parliament in representing the people and holding the government to account. They can also be used as extension activities by teachers and students who have participated in the law-making, committee or Question Time role-plays.

These lesson plans can be conducted over one lesson but are designed to be flexible to suit your needs.

Outcomes

By participating in a mini role-play that simulates an aspect of the Parliament, students will:

  • understand that members of parliament represent and speak on behalf of Australians
  • explore parliamentary scrutiny and government accountability 
  • inquire into real and current issues 
  • practise public speaking, careful listening and quick thinking 
  • engage in critical thinking

Setting the scene for the role-play

Before beginning the role-play you can set the scene by doing some short activities with the students. Decide whether you will be doing a role-play in the House of Representatives or the Senate.

House of Representatives activities:

  • Watch the ‘What is Parliament?’ video and ‘The House of Representatives’ video in the Role-play Toolkit.
  • Ask the students to imagine that they are members of the House of Representatives. How old would they be? Where would they work? What tasks would they have? What skills would they need? What did they do before becoming a member of parliament? For more information about members of parliament, check this link: Fact Sheet – Members of the House of Representatives
  • Ask the students to describe their electorate. Where is their electorate located? For example, is it urban, rural, coastal or inland? How would they describe the electorate and its people? For information about electorates, check the Australian Electoral Commission website.
  • Encourage students to get into role as members of the House of Representatives and to understand that they: 
    • represent the views of their electorate
    • may belong to the government or opposition so will be working as part of a large team
    • may be an Independent or member of a minor party.

Senate activities

  • Watch the ‘What is Parliament?’ video and ‘The Senate’ video in the Role-play Toolkit.
  • Ask the students to imagine that they are senators. How old would they be? Where would they work? What tasks would they have? What skills would they need? What did they do before becoming a senator? For information about senators, check this link: Fact Sheet – Senators.
  • Ask the students to choose a state or territory to represent. Have them identify the issues important to the people in their state or territory.
  • Encourage students to get into role as senators and to understand that they: 
    • represent the views of their state or territory 
    • may belong to the government or opposition so will be working as part of a large team
    • may be an Independent or a member of a minor party.

Focus questions

Why is special time set aside for members of parliament, who are not ministers, to speak in the Parliament?

It gives non-government members of parliament and government backbenchers the opportunity to draw attention to issues they consider important and to call on the government to act on a matter. Members of parliament also use this time to speak about issues of particular concern to their constituents (the people in their electorate or state/territory). They might acknowledge a significant event such as a special occasion, a sporting success or international tragedy.

Who speaks at this time?

In the House of Representatives any member, other than ministers, can participate in private members’ business and, in the Senate, any senator can take part in general business.

How does private members’ business and general business help members of parliament do their job?

The Parliament represents (speaks on behalf of) all Australians. Members of parliament make sure that the concerns and views of their constituents are heard by talking about issues in Parliament.

Scripts

The PEO has script templates to help you write your own scripts. They provide a framework for the role-play, and templates can be found in the Role-play Toolkit.

Set-up

Transform the classroom into a parliamentary chamber by arranging chairs and tables into a horseshoe shape as indicated by the diagrams in the Role-play Toolkit.

More information

Students can find out more about the roles of people in Parliament by checking the Fact Sheets.