Discovering Democracy Units
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Focus question 5: How does Australian parliamentary democracy reflect its British inheritance?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Australia's form of government (30 min) ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: History Mystery Case - present day (60 min) ESL Activity 2
Activity 3: Final report (60 min) ESL Activity 3
Assessment ESL Assessment

Democracy is defined as government by the people, either by them directly or through elected representatives.

Activity 1: Australia's form of government (30 min)

1a Discuss the term 'democracy'. List the ideas on the board. Ask students to identify any elements of the previous systems that were democratic.

1b Australia's form of government is called a representative parliamentary democracy. Ask students to suggest what this term means.

1c Ask: 'How do we select people for parliament?'

Further detail on the Australian system is provided on The Commonwealth Government poster.
People vote for politicians who will go to our national parliament in Canberra and represent the views of the people. The people choose who will be their representative in parliament at discussions and debates about how we are governed.

1d Distribute copies of Handout 17 and compare and confirm student ideas. Use Handout 7 for reference.

Handout 7,17
Handout 18
Stories Internet

Parliament is the legislature, which means it is the place where decisions about how we are governed are made.

1e Distribute Handout 18. Student pairs should discuss and complete the task.

1f Add the terms in bold to the student glossaries. Students can use the glossary on the Stories of Democracy CD ROM or in the Key Terms to find further definitions of these terms.

Activity 2: History Mystery Case - present day
(60 min)

2a Introduce the last case in the History Mystery investigation - the Australian system.

Australia, we remember, has a 'parliament'. It took that name from Great Britain's form of government. Great Britain's form of government is called the 'Westminster system'. It has two Houses of Parliament, a House of Lords and a House of Commons. Britain also has a monarch - Queen Elizabeth II - but she is not an absolute monarch. We saw that, long ago, because of the trouble Parliament had with King Charles I, all English monarchs from William and Mary onwards became constitutional monarchs. Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, is a constitutional monarch.

Handouts 7,18,19 Stories

2b Distribute Handout 19 and discuss the tasks outlined on the History Mystery. Students should draw on the information provided on Handout 7 and Handout 18 to complete the task. Students who haven't yet had the opportunity to complete the 'Parliament versus Monarch' interactive on the Stories of Democracy CD ROM should complete the activity at this time.

Activity 3: Final report (60 min)

Promote students completing this mystery to Chief Inspector.

3a Recap the changes in the form of rule from King John's time to the present day.

3b Distribute the report guidelines cut from Handout 19 and explain that to complete the final mystery students will prepare a final report. The report can be delivered as a spoken or written report.

The report should contain the following:

Handout 19 Parliament at Work

  • a diagram that illustrates the events from absolute monarchy to representative parliamentary democracy
  • a description of the difference between absolute monarchy and representative parliamentary democracy
  • an explanation of how the changes have affected the way people are governed
  • a statement of the student's opinion about the changes (the pros and cons).


Test student understanding by having pairs of students complete the 'Parliamentary Quiz' on the Parliament at Work CD ROM.

Assess the student's final report using the following criteria. The student can:

  • refer to three main struggles for power between the monarch and parliament
  • describe differences between absolute monarchy and representative parliamentary democracy
  • describe some changes in the system that resulted from those struggles
  • make a judgement on changes to the system supported by reason
  • provide a clearly labelled and presented diagram, displaying logical layout and appropriate content.

ESL activities

Promote students completing the final History Mystery to Superintendent.

Back to 'Parliament versus Monarch - At a glance'

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