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Focus question 5: How are laws made in Australia?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Mix-freeze-pair quiz (10 min) ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: Making laws in Australia (50 min) ESL Activity 2
Activity 3: Class legislation (50 min) ESL Activity 3

Activity 1: Mix-freeze-pair quiz (10 min)

1a Say 'mix' and students walk quietly around a room. Call 'freeze' and, when all students are still, say 'pair' and students pair with the person closest.

1b Pose a quiz question, give student pairs discussion time, and call for responses.

1c Repeat 'mix-freeze-pair' for further questions.

  • Why do we have rules?
  • Why do we have laws?
  • What is the difference between rules and laws?
  • Why do laws change?
  • Who made laws in Ancient Rome?
  • Why did the plebeians want to know the laws?
  • Why is it important to write laws down?

Activity 2: Making laws in Australia (50 min)

2a The laws of Australia are written down and open to everyone. Judges in Australia have a say in making some laws by interpreting existing laws. Mostly, our laws are made in Parliament.

2b Display Handout 14 on an overhead projector. Discuss the process of law-making, asking the question: How do the people have a say in law-making? Handout 14

2c Divide the class into eight groups.

2d Each group is given the same scenario.

Your group has to make a rule which applies to all the students in your school. The rule should be a new rule which will deal with something you consider is unfair, unsafe or unworkable in the school.
A rule should be described in positive terms, describing what behaviour should occur.

2e Outline the task. Groups should list possible topics they think need to be addressed in the school. They should then select the one they agree is most relevant and write a proposed rule. They should also outline the consequences of breaking the rule.

2f Each group should select a spokesperson to introduce their rule. This person, called your 'Representative' has to introduce the new rule for discussion. The representative:

  • reads out the proposed rule and its consequence
  • explains why the group thinks the new rule is necessary
  • explains who it will affect and how.

2g At the conclusion of the presentations the students have a chance to comment on the suggested rules.

Activity 3: Class legislation (50 min)

3a Point out that rule-making affects only a few people (the students of the school, the teachers, and so on) but laws affect many more. Groups should meet again to decide if their rule is worthy of becoming a law for all schools in Australia. Discuss the implications of making laws for a nation instead of one school. These might include:

  • different needs
  • different student populations
  • different school systems
  • different climates and communities.

3b Allow time for groups to discuss their proposals before selecting one issue to be the subject of a law.

3c Form a simple class parliament in which the class members are representatives. The aim of the class parliament is to create a new law for all schools in Australia. Write the suggested proposal on the board and allow time to discuss the following points.

  • What is the purpose of the law?
  • Who must follow the law?
  • Will the law favour some more than others? Why?
  • What would happen if the law is broken?
  • Who interprets the law?
  • Who administers the law?

3d The class parliament splits into separate groups to discuss the issue from different perspectives.

  • boys/girls
  • primary school students/secondary school students
  • parents
  • teachers
  • other members of the community.

Each group suggests changes to the proposed law that they think are appropriate.

3e Convene the full class parliament to discuss the proposed changes and decide a final version of the law.

The school principal could act as governor-general and sign the class law.

ESL activities

Back to 'Rules and Laws - At a glance'

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