Year 8

Unit at a glance

This unit of work:

  • covers aspects of two of the three key inquiry questions of the Year 8 civics and citizenship curriculum
  • is a six to eight lesson unit
  • includes informal assessment items and 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 inquiry questions
  • What are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens in Australia's democracy?
  • How are laws made and applied in Australia?
Content descriptions
Civics and citizenship knowledge and understanding

Government and democracy

How citizens can participate in Australia's democracy, including use of the electoral system, contact with their elected representatives, use of lobby groups, and direct action (ACHCK062)

Laws and Citizens

How laws are made in Australia through parliaments (statutory law) and through the courts (common law) (ACHCK063)

Civics and citizenship skills

Questioning and research

Develop a range of questions to investigate Australia's political and legal systems (ACHCS068)

Identify, gather and sort information and ideas from a range of sources (ACHCS069)

Analysis, synthesis and interpretation

Critically analyse information and ideas from a range of sources in relation to civics and citizenship topics and issues (ACHCS070)

Problem solving and decision making

Use democratic processes to reach consensus on a course of action relating to a civics or citizenship issue and plan for that action (ACHCS072)

Communication and reflection

Present evidence-based civics and citizenship arguments using subject-specific language (ACHCS073)

Achievement standard
  • Note: Bold text = aspects of the curriculum covered by this unit

By the end of Year 8, students analyse features of Australian democracy, and explain features of Australia's democracy that enable active participation. They recognise different types of law in Australia and explain how laws are made. They identify the diverse belief systems in Australia and analyse issues about national identity and the factors that contribute to people’s sense of belonging.

When researching, students develop a range of questions to investigate Australia's political and legal systems and critically analyse information gathered from different sources for relevance. They explain different points of view on civics and citizenship issues. When planning for action, students take into account multiple perspectives, use democratic processes, and develop solutions to an issue. Students develop and present reasoned arguments on civics and citizenship issues using appropriate texts, subject-specific language and concepts. They identify 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 01/01/17. (curriculum version 8.3)

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Before you begin

Background information for teachers

PEO Fact Sheets

PEO videos:

Resources required
  • Printed worksheets and assessment sheets.
  • Interactive whiteboard to watch PEO videos.
  • Computers for students to conduct research.
  • Get Parliament


Assessment and links to achievement standards
Assessment task

Students explain features of Australia's democracy that enable active participation.

Informal assessment specifically targeting achievement standards
Worksheets 2, 3 and 4

Students recognise different types of law in Australia and explain how laws are made.


Lesson 1 – How can I get involved?

Watch the PEO's Get Involved video. Using Get Parliament: Get Involved and the Fact Sheet – Getting involved in Parliament, ask students to work in small groups to list ways to participate in Australia's democracy. As a class, collate all the lists.

Ask students to work in pairs to complete Worksheet 1, analysing the benefits of each form of participation and the circumstances in which it would work best. 1

Lessons 2-3 – Get involved assessment

Distribute and discuss assessment task and rubric, outlining expectations and presentation time limits. This assessment task can be done in pairs or in small groups. 2

Optional extra lesson – Presentations of assessment

Organise a schedule of presentations.

Lesson 4 – Introduction to law making, and common law

In small groups, brainstorm some examples of laws in Australia.

Explain to students that laws are made in different ways. Using the types of law information sheet briefly describe the differences between common, statute and delegated law.

Common law

Describe common law to students. Divide the class into small groups. Discuss the process of common law in Activity 1 from this Curriculum Corporation Discovering Democracy Unit. Ask small groups to then write their own scenarios, including examples of precedents, and present their findings and reasons to the class (with a written copy to be submitted to the teacher).

Lesson 5 – Statute law

Describe statute law to students. Explain that statute law overrides common law. Watch the videos Making a law and Passing a Bill. Show students the Path of a bill diagram. Ask students to write down the stages of making this type of law.

Run a role-play of the passage of a bill through either the House of Representatives or the Senate or both.

Lesson 6 – Delegated law

Describe how delegated law is made and can be overruled by Parliament. 3 Divide class into small groups of 5-6 students and give each group Worksheet 2 to complete.

Ask students to then complete Worksheet 3 in pairs.

Note: Worksheet 3 has three differentiated options, gradually increasing in difficulty from A to C.

Lesson 7 – unit review

Using the types of law information sheet, review the ways laws are made in Australia. Ask students to complete Worksheet 4 using the knowledge they have gained in this unit.

Note: Worksheet 4 has three differentiated options, gradually increasing in difficulty from A to C.

Additional information

Forms of participation include: voting, petitioning Parliament, participating in a parliamentary committee hearing, contacting elected representatives, using lobby groups, and direct action methods such as attending public meetings or protests, or running social media campaigns.

Some examples of recent citizen's campaigns for change include:



Additional information

For students who are struggling to choose an issue they think is important, suggestions might include:

Environmental issues – either local (such as a nearby polluted creek or feral animal population), or national (such as climate change, water use or endangered species).

Social issues – gender equality, disability services, youth unemployment, censorship.

Health issues – mental health, drug-taking.

Additional information

Delegated law must be presented to the Parliament within six sitting days of being made. During the next 15 sitting days, any member of parliament can signal their request for Parliament to overrule this law. The Parliament then has a further 15 sitting days to discuss whether to do this. If no decision is made, the delegated law is overruled.

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