Activity Introduction

srf_votingpoliticiansphotoframeQuick summary: In this finding out lesson, students will watch a short video overviewing the concept of democracy, then outline their current understanding of democracy by completing the 3-2-1 Bridge visible thinking routine. In a role play class vote, students will consider the democratic right to vote, and what it feels like to be excluded from it. They will then work in groups to conduct in-depth research into two groups that struggled for the right to vote in Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and women. Students will present their findings to their peers, and connect the actions of these groups to the concept of democratic dissent.

Essential questions:

  • What is a democratic process?
  • How do democratic processes link to our rights and freedoms?
  • Who has the right to vote?
  • What is democratic dissent?

21st Century skills:

Team Work Communicating Critical Thinking Empathy

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:
Year 8 Civics and Citizenship:

  • The freedoms that enable active participation in Australia’s democracy within the bounds of law, including freedom of speech, association, assembly, religion and movement (ACHCK061
  • 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

General capabilities: Literacy.

Cross-curriculum priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

Relevant parts of year 8 achievement standards: Students analyse features of Australian democracy, and explain features of Australia’s democracy that enable active participation. They analyse issues about national identity in Australia and the factors that contribute to people’s sense of belonging. When researching, students 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. Students develop and present reasoned arguments on civics and citizenship issues using appropriate texts, subject-specific language and concepts.

Topic: Human Rights.

Unit of work: Story of Our Rights and Freedoms – Year 8.

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – present some brief scenarios to the class and pose some reflective questions.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video and webpage to the class. Women and the Right to Vote factsheet (enough for half of the class). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the Right to Vote factsheet (enough for half of the class). Web enabled devices (enough for one per pair).

Keywords: democracy, democratic dissent, democratic process vote, universal suffrage.

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


Teacher Worksheet

srf_y8_democraticdissent_photoframeTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand what a democratic process is, specifically the democratic process of voting. They will become aware that not all people have always had the right to vote in Australia. Students will make connections between democratic dissent and the struggle for rights and freedoms.

Teacher content information:

To safeguard rights and freedoms, many countries include protections for basic human rights in national law. While the Australian government has been a longstanding supporter of the United Nations and was involved in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), not all Australian legislation is entirely compatible with the Declaration. However, many of our rights and freedoms are protected by court judgements, Federal, State and local government laws, regulations and in the Federal and State Constitutions.

Australia is a representative democracy, meaning that citizens entrust the decisions about how

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: “Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice” - Desmond Tutu

1. Complete the 3-2-1 Bridge visible thinking routine to explore your understanding of democracy:

Three thoughts you have about DEMOCRACY:

Two questions you have about DEMOCRACY:

One analogy for DEMOCRACY:


2. Work with your group to explore the historical struggle for suffrage by minority groups in Australia. You could use these points to guide your research and presentation:

  • Describe the start of the movement
  • Describe how the movement ended (if it has ended)
  • Describe how they engaged in democratic dissent:
    • some of the ways that the group made themselves heard
    • some of the participants/key leaders and what they did
    • some of the key events that occurred during the struggle for the vote
  • Describe the opposition faced by the particular group
  • Find two primary sources (such as a news article, an image, a flie
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