Unit at a glance
This unit of work:
- covers the first key question of the year 9 civics and citizenship curriculum ‘What influences shape the operation of Australia’s political system?’
- contains six to seven lessons
- includes one formal assessment item (with marking rubric)
- contains background information for teachers and a list of resources.
How this unit meets curriculum requirements
Civics and citizenship curriculum
Year-level description: key questions
What influences shape the operation of Australia’s political system?
Civics and citizenship knowledge and understanding
Government and democracy
The role of political parties and independent representatives in Australia’s system of government, including the formation of governments (ACHCK075)
How citizens’ choices are shaped at election time, including the influence of the media (ACHCK076)
Civics and citizenship skills
- Note: Bold text = aspects of the curriculum covered by this unit
Questioning and research
Develop, select and evaluate a range of questions to investigate Australia’s political and legal systems (ACHCS082)
Identify, gather and sort information and ideas from a range of sources and reference as appropriate (ACHCS083)
Analysis, synthesis and interpretation
Critically evaluate information and ideas from a range of sources in relation to civics and citizenship topics and issues (ACHCS084)
Account for different interpretations and points of view (ACHCS085)
Communication and reflection
Present evidence-based civics and citizenship arguments using subject-specific language (ACHCS088)
By the end of Year 9, students evaluate features of Australia’s political system, and identify and analyse the influences on people’s electoral choices. They explain the key principles of Australia’s system of justice and analyse the role of Australia’s court system. They analyse a range of factors that influence identities and attitudes to diversity.
When researching, students analyse a range of questions to investigate Australia’s political and legal systems and critically analyse information gathered from different sources for relevance and reliability. They compare and account for different interpretations and points of view on civics and citizenship issues. When planning for action, students take into account multiple perspectives, use democratic processes, and negotiate solutions to an issue. Students develop and present evidence-based arguments on civics and citizenship issues using appropriate texts, subject-specific language and concepts. They analyse ways they can be active and informed citizens in different contexts.
Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), downloaded from the Australian Curriculum website on 20/12/15. (curriculum version 7.5)
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Before you begin
Background information for teachers
PEO Fact Sheets
- Fact Sheet – Federal Elections
- Fact Sheet – Government
- Fact Sheet – Independents
- Fact Sheet – Political Parties
- Fact Sheet – Press Gallery
- Printed assessment sheets.
- Computers for students to conduct research.
Assessment and links to achievement standards
- identify and analyse the influences on people’s electoral choices
- critically analyse information gathered from different sources for relevance and reliability
- develop and present evidence-based arguments on civics issues.
Informal assessment specifically targeting achievement standards
Small group task
- evaluate features of Australia’s political system
- analyse a range of questions to investigate Australia’s political system.
Lesson 1 – What are political parties?
Ask students to read the Fact Sheet – Political Parties.
Use Parliamentary Lesson Plan – Representation: Political Parties to explore the role of political parties and Independents in Australia’s system of government.
As a class, discuss the terms ‘party platform’ and ‘mandate’. 1
Lesson 2 – What is the role of parliamentary parties?
Discuss the formation of government using the Fact Sheet – Government.
With the overarching idea of the ‘role of political parties and independent representatives in Australia’s system of government’, divide the class into small groups of two to four students. Assign each group one concept to research from the following list:
- the opposition
- parliamentary majority
- hung parliament
- minority government
Ask students to develop questions to investigate their concept. Give them time to conduct research before they share their findings with the class. Students can begin by using:
- Fact Sheets
- House of Representatives Infosheets
- Detailed information about Hung parliaments and minority governments
- Detailed information about Independent representatives.
As a class, create a mind map to connect the concepts. 2
Lesson 3 – How does the Parliament use majority rule to make decisions?
Use the Parliamentary Lesson Plan Representation: Majority rule to explore how Parliament uses majority rule to make decisions.
Lessons 4 to 6 – How are voters’ choices influenced at election time?
Research project assessment
Hand out and explain the research project. Students can be given two to three lessons to work on this and can complete it for homework. This project includes differentiation options, including writing an essay or creating a political cartoon or advertisement with a rationale. An essay and rationale planning sheet is included to help those students who require further scaffolding.
Lesson 7 – Policies of political parties
Hold a class discussion about the different policies of political parties. Address the following questions:
- What are the public perceptions of each party’s policies?
- How accurate are these perceptions?
- How do the public find out about party policies?
- Which sources of information are more accurate or reliable?
As a class, compare and contrast the various policies of different political parties on one or more of the following issues:
- asylum seekers
- climate change
- national security
- university education
- mental health funding.
Were the differences or similarities between the parties’ policies surprising? Why or why not?
A political party has a party platform to let voters know what they stand for. A government might believe it has a mandate to implement a policy which it campaigned about in an election.
After an election, either a majority government is formed (a government with a parliamentary majority – 76 or more members in the House of Representatives), or there is a hung parliament. In the event of a hung parliament, a party (or coalition of parties) with the support of 76 or more members in the House of Representatives can form a minority government. The major party (or coalition of parties) that does not form government becomes the opposition. An Independent is a member of parliament who does not belong to a political party.