Activity Introduction

srf_constitutionphotoframeQuick summary: In this Finding Out lesson, students will learn about the process of making changes to the Australian Constitution. They will consider the importance of consultation when changes that have a far-reaching impact are made. Using the ‘Think-Pair-Share’ visible thinking routine, students will consider a scenario in which the hours of a school day are changed without consultation of stakeholders and relate their understanding to the Australian Constitution. In a sorting activity, students will learn about the process for constitutional change through referenda. They will read and understand Chapter VIII of the Constitution, which details constitutional change. 

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand the process involved in changing the Australian Constitution.
  • Students will understand the motivation behind making changes to the Australian Constitution.

21st Century skills:

Critical Thinking Team Work Communicating Creative Thinking Empathy

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions
Year 7 Civics and Citizenship:

  • The process for constitutional change through a referendum (ACHCK049)
  • The key features of government under the Australian Constitution with a focus on: the separation of powers, the roles of the Executive, the Houses of Parliament, and the division of powers (ACHCK048
  • Identify, gather and sort information and ideas from a range of sources (ACHCS055
  • Develop a range of questions to investigate Australia’s political and legal systems (ACHCS054
  • Critically analyse information and ideas from a range of sources in relation to civics and citizenship topics and issues (ACHCS056

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking 

Relevant parts of year 7 achievement standards: Students explain features of Australia’s Constitution, including the process for constitutional change. When researching, students develop a range of questions and gather and analyse information from different sources to investigate Australia’s political and legal systems. They consider different points of view on civics and citizenship issues. Students develop and present arguments on civics and citizenship issues using appropriate texts, terms and concepts. They identify ways they can be active and informed citizens.

Topic: Human Rights.

Unit of work: Story of Our Rights and Freedoms – Year 7.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – guide student discussion.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of audio/visual presentation to present a website to the class. Closer Look: The Australian Constitution (produced by the Parliamentary Education Office), printed or accessed online via student devices. Referendum Process Cards (cut out and mixed up before the lesson; enough for groups of 3-4 to share). ‘Referendum’ presentation‘Double Majority’ AEC poster

Keywords: Australian Constitution, rights and freedoms, referendum.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

srf_y7_constitution2_photoframeTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand that decisions can have far-reaching and unintended effects. They will understand the process for making changes to the Australian Constitution, as well as why this process and this form of direct democracy is important. Students will be familiar with the requirements for a successful constitutional referendum, and understand how the referendum process ensures that our rights and freedoms are protected.

Teacher content information:

Throughout the Story of Our Rights and Freedoms lessons, students will consider Civics and Citizenship concepts through a human rights lens. They will critically assess the Australian system of government and the effect that it has on our rights and freedoms.

There is no universally accepted definition of human rights, and our understanding is continually developing. Some definitions include:

  • The recognition and respect of peoples’ dignity
  • A set of moral and legal guidelines th
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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: The Constitution was approved in a series of referendums held over 1898–1900 by the people of the Australian colonies.

1. Consider the following scenario:

School staff and school council have met and it has been decided that school will now start at 7:30 am. The decision is final. You do not get a say. As students at the school, you will now be required to be at school 15 minutes before this so that you are ready to start at 7:30 am. The school day will be finished at 1:00 pm, unless you have overdue work and then you will be expected to stay until it is done. This will be great for the school because teachers will have more time to meet and plan classes so lessons will be of a higher quality.

THINK: Spend a minute independently noting down your thoughts about the scenario. PAIR: Once everyone has had a chance to record some ideas individually, share what you have written down with a partner or in a small group and note down what you hear. SHARE: Note down
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