Activity Introduction

srf_y9_australiaartist_photoframeQuick summary: In this Finding Out lesson, students will explore the Australian court system and its relationship to rights and freedoms. Students are introduced to the topic in a debate line, wherein they respond to a set of provocations from a specific viewpoint. The class will view a video featuring an overview of the court system, and engage in a ‘See-Think-Wonder’ visible thinking routine. Students will work in groups to research and present information about an aspect of the Australian court system they are wondering about. Students will use a hexagonal thinking tool to make connections between the Australian court system and rights and freedoms. Finally, students will reflect on their learning using the ‘Connect-Extend-Challenge’ visible thinking routine.

Essential questions:

  • What is the Australian court (judicial) system?
  • What is the purpose of courts of law?
  • What are the details of the court system?
  • What is the link between the court system and rights and freedoms?

21st Century skills:

Critical Thinking Team Work Communicating Problem Solving

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:
Year 9 Civics and Citizenship:

  • The key features of Australia’s court system and how courts apply and interpret the law, resolve disputes and make law through judgements (ACHCK077
  • The key principles of Australia’s justice system, including equality before the law, independent judiciary, and right of appeal (ACHCK078
  • Develop, select and evaluate a range of questions to investigate Australia’s political and legal systems (ACHCS082
  • Identify, gather and sort information and ideas from a range of sources and reference as appropriate (ACHCS083
  • Recognise and consider multiple perspectives and ambiguities, and use strategies to negotiate and resolve contentious issues (ACHCS086

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Relevant parts of year 9 achievement standards: Students explain the key principles of Australia’s system of justice and analyse the role of Australia’s court system. When researching, students analyse a range of questions to investigate Australia’s political and legal systems and critically analyse information gathered from different sources for relevance and reliability. Students compare and account for different interpretations and points of view on civics and citizenship issues. They analyse ways they can be active and informed citizens in different contexts.

Topic: Human Rights

Unit of work: Story of Our Rights and Freedoms – Year 9.

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – share background information with students and lead the class through a presentation.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of audio/visual presentation to present a website to the class. ‘Exploring the systems that protect our Rights and Freedoms’  Presentation. Sticky-notes. Scissors. Glue. Butcher’s paper (optional). Web-enabled devices for students to share in groups. UDHR articles (enough for groups of 2-3 to share), hexagonal thinking template. A4 paper (one sheet per student).

Keywords: human rights, freedoms, Australian legal system, courts, law.

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


Teacher Worksheet

srf_y9_righttoequality_photoframeTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand what the Australian court system is, including the different levels and how the system works. They will be able to work collaboratively to set research questions, and present information to their peers. Students will be able to identify key information about the court system, rights and freedoms, and make connections between the concepts. They will be able to identify the challenges that they face and strategise ways to resolve these challenges.

Teacher content information:

Many countries have special protections for human rights in their domestic law. Some, like Canada and the USA, have a Bill of Rights as part of their Constitution which means that these rights are very strongly protected (because it is very difficult to alter the Constitution). However, Australia does not have a Bill of Rights and there is no single law that broadly protects human rights in Australia. Rather our human rights are protected by

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: "The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have to have an independent judiciary, judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing." - Caroline Kennedy

1. What will you be exploring about the Australian court system?


Note your secondary questions here: 

You could begin your research at this website: Attorney-General’s Department "The Courts".

2. Use this space to take notes when your classmates present their research: 

3. Use the hexagonal thinking tool to explore the connections between what you found out about the Australian court system and rights and freedoms.

Hexagonal thinking template.


Complete the ‘Connect-Extend-Challenge’ visible thinking routine to reflect on what you have learned throughout the lesson:

CONNECT: How are the ideas and information presented CONNECTED to what you already knew? EXTEND: What new ideas did you get that EXTENDED or pushed your thinking in
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