Activity Introduction

srf_y9_humanrightsforallphotoframeQuick summary: This Finding Out lesson follows on from Story of Our Rights and Freedoms – Changing the Australian Constitution – Year 7 Civics. In a role play activity, students will gain a deeper understanding of the process of a constitutional referendum. They will learn about making changes to the Australian Constitution: from when a concern is raised by a citizen; to when a change to the Constitution is considered by both levels of federal parliament; to when the change is voted on in a referendum of Australian citizens. Students will work in groups to consider ‘yes’ and ‘no’ arguments for change to the Constitution, and then reflect on the connection between the process for constitutional change and human rights.

Essential questions:

  • How are changes to the Australian Constitution made?
  • Why would changes to the Australian Constitution be made?
  • What is the connection between changes to the Australian Constitution and access to human rights for all people living in Australia?

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
  • 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. 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: 90 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – lead students through a role play activity.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of audio/visual presentation to present a website to the class. Referendum Role Play Running Sheet (one per student). Blank ‘petition to change the constitution’Yes/No PostersReferendum Voting Slip, ‘Double Majority’ AEC Poster, ballot box.

Keywords: Australian Constitution, rights, freedoms, referendum, equality, direct democracy.

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


Teacher Worksheet

yourcountryphotoframeTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will gain a deeper understanding of the process to make changes to the Australian Constitution, and the requirements for a successful constitutional referendum. They will be able to make connections between the referendum process and our rights and freedoms. They will develop skills in presenting and in purposeful group discussion.

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 adequ
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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: Direct democracy is a form of democracy in which people make decisions about how the country is run.

Article 21 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:

“Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.”

A constitutional referendum ensures that all Australian voters have a say on changes to the Australian Constitution.

Is there a link between Article 21 of the UDHR and Australia’s Constitutional referendum process? If so, what is it? If not, do you think there should be? 


On a scale of 1–10 (1 = not effective at all, 10 = the most effective), how effective is the process to change the Australian Constitution in ensuring that our rights and freedoms are maintained? 

Why did you give that rating? 

Extension/Homework: Dive deeper into the concept of a constitutional referendum by researching one successful and one unsuccessful referendum in Australia, then

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