Activity Introduction

srf_y7_theexecutive_photoframeQuick summary: In this Finding Out lesson, students will explore the concept of the balance of power and the three arms of government that maintain this balance: The Legislature, The Executive and The Judiciary. Students will work in teams to research articles of the Constitution, and will use a graphic organiser to illustrate their understanding of the connection between the three arms of government, the Australian Constitution and our rights and freedoms.

Essential questions:

  • How is governmental power is kept in check?
  • What happens if governmental power is not kept in check?
  • What is the connection between the balance of power and rights and freedoms?

21st Century skills:

Critical Thinking Team Work Communicating Ethical Understanding

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:
Year 7 Civics and Citizenship:

  • 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 and how Australia’s legal system is based on the principle of justice. Students explain the diverse nature of Australian society and identify the importance of shared values in promoting a cohesive society. 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: 140 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – provide instructions and lead class discussion.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Inflated balloons (one per group of eight). UDHR articles (cut up and distribute one to each student). The Executive, The Judiciary, The Legislature Factsheets (one copy of each per student). Separation of Powers Flow Diagram (six copies), Separation of Powers Flow Diagram teacher guide. First Three Chapters of the Australian Constitution (three copies). Power Grab scenarios (three copies).

Keywords: Balance of power, Australian Constitution, government, legislature, parliament, judiciary, courts, executive, human rights.

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_judiciary_photoframeTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will gain an understanding of the balance of power between the three arms of government. They will be able to reflect on how an individual’s rights and freedoms can be compromised when power is exerted unlawfully and unethically. Students will understand the connection between separation of powers and rights and freedoms.

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 that promote and protect the recognition of our values, our identity and access to an adequate standa
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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: When a power imbalance occurs, our rights and freedoms can be compromised.

1. Complete the 3-2-1 Bridge visible thinking routine to explore POWER:

Three thoughts you have about POWER:

Two questions you have about POWER:

One analogy you have about POWER:

2. Write a summary of your understanding of POWER: 

3. As you rotate around the tables and read the factsheets on each of the arms of government, respond to each of these questions and complete the activities. You will have time to complete this after the table rotation; however it may be helpful to look at these now to know what you are looking for.

The Legislature (Parliament) 

a. Create a flow chart to illustrate the membership of the Australian Federal Parliament: 

b. Use a Venn Diagram to show the differences and similarities of the responsibilities/powers of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Any shared responsibilities or powers should be listed w

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