Australia’s Magna Carta Institute Rule of Law Education supports national and state curriculum requirements in Primary education.
Curriculum links and program ideas
Civics, Citizenship and Laws
Magna Carta and Human Rights
Democracy and Australian Governance
Civics, Citizenship, and the Law
Australian citizens enjoy many privileges and benefits Australia has to offer, such as living with laws that have been created under a fair and democratic system of government. These privileges and benefits protect and support Australian citizens.
The following resources for civics and citizenship have been created to help students identify the Australian values that underpin this democratic system. Learn the difference between a rule and a law to understand how each one benefits and protects all citizens, from the local levels of government through to the highest laws in the land.
The activities in this section explain how important democratic principles, based on human rights and the rule of law, form the foundation of successful communities and maintain personal liberties for every citizen. Students learn about the important elements that make a virtuous civic culture and identify how they can contribute in their own community by developing important personal virtues, such as respect, tolerance, responsibility, and inclusiveness.
By understanding the three areas of civics and citizenship, Australian beliefs and values, and rules and laws, everyone can become informed, active, and responsible citizens living in Australian society.
Civics & Citizenship
Citizens and citizenship is based upon the concept of sovereignty. A supreme power, or authority, is responsible for decision-making and law-making to manage the state, including maintaining law and order for its people.
- Defined territories and borders
- Sovereign rights
- Law-making authority
- Population citizens
The population includes citizens that live in the territory and follow the rules and laws of the land, which are created by the government.
In a democracy, the sovereign state authority is controlled by the citizens who independently elect their own government. The power of the government is held by its citizens.
Citizens & Democracy
Democracy relies upon active and informed citizens.
Civics and Citizenship Resource (COMING SOON)
A healthy democracy has citizens who support the state’s democratic beliefs, rights and liberties, and laws. This resource explains the concept of civic virtue and how the citizens effectively uphold the attitudes, values, and beliefs that are held within Australian society, by being responsible and active participants in their community.
What is citizenship?
These resources provide a valuable opportunity for teachers to introduce and discuss the vital role citizens play in supporting and maintaining a healthy democracy. Without them, governments would create their own rules and become unaccountable for their actions, leading to unjust outcomes for citizens, such as ignoring human rights and liberties.
The Name it and Explain it activity provides an opportunity for teachers to introduce important questions surrounding citizenship.
What is citizenship?
Why do we need it?
What would happen if we didn’t have it?
Answers to these questions help explain the difference between civics, citizens and citizenship. Informed citizens understand their responsibilities in society as their role helps to support and maintain democratic values.
Below is a collection of resources aimed to provide a fun way to teach and learn about Australian values, and what your students need to know in order to become virtuous civic citizens.
Australian Beliefs & Values
Australian citizens proudly call Australia home
Australian born citizens are familiar with living a unique way of life, where everyone is free to enjoy and participate in many activities and pursuits that have helped to shape our identity. The foundations of our parliamentary democracy include respect for all individuals and living in a peaceful way under principles from the rule of law, keeping our nation safe and prosperous.
New citizens can also enjoy these benefits and are expected to understand how sharing a commitment to supporting Australia’s values and beliefs can play an important role in helping to maintain our Australian way of life. New citizens to Australia are expected to support the values and ideals of their new country by making a pledge. This pledge confirms their commitment to share responsibility in becoming a loyal citizen to Australia and its people.
The Australian Government has released a booklet called Our Common Bond to provide information to new citizens about Australia’s democratic systems, beliefs and values, responsibilities, and the privileges of citizenship.
This booklet provides information for teachers and students to understand what it means to be an engaged and effective Australian citizen.
These include the ability to participate in the way society is governed, freedom to live, work, have a family, and be protected from arbitrary power. These privileges and benefits support Australian citizens even when they travel overseas.
The Australian Citizenship Poster is a great classroom resource that outlines these responsibilities and privileges.
Australian Democratic Beliefs
Australia society has three main beliefs that form the core of our national identity, each one embedded into the process of how Australia is governed:
These beliefs are intertwined to provide important protections for all Australians and importantly recognize human rights and the value of each person in our society.
The Australian Democratic Beliefs poster highlights the components of these democratic beliefs. To inform and remind citizens of how Australia’s rights and liberties must be respected, and ensure Australian society is safe and free for everyone to enjoy.
For a free copy of this poster email email@example.com
These beliefs include:
1. Parliamentary Democracy
A democratic form of government where the people choose representatives for the legislature at regular elections.
2. The Rule of Law
What is the difference between a rule and a law?
Everyone is equal under the law and must obey the law. This includes those in parliament, community and religious leaders, business people, and the police.
The rule of law underpins our democratic way of life and provides freedoms for everyone living in Australian society. Knowing the difference between a rule and a law from an early age helps citizens to understand Australian society’s expectations, and what responsibilities they have in order to maintain it.
3. Respect for All Individuals
All Australians are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect, regardless of where they live, what they look like, what their circumstances are, and what they think or believe. Appreciating the value of every citizen supports Australian society, particularly through challenging times.
4. Living Peacefully
The people have the power to maintain or change how they want to live. Change occurs through open discussion, peaceful persuasion, and through the democratic processes in Australian society.
Each of these beliefs supports Australian values and unite all citizens.
Play this Kahoot! to test your knowledge about Australian Democratic Values
What do we really care about?
Our Resource on Values is for every Australian student!
Australian values have developed through hardship and adversity, from personal values evolving into societal values. Australians value egalitarianism. Mutual respect, tolerance, and fair play reflect a commitment to each other and the public good.
Understanding Australia’s history provides insights into what Australians value. Mateship, loyalty, freedom, and equal opportunity for everyone are the foundations of Australian society. Everyone plays an important role in supporting the freedoms we all share living in Australia.
This resource challenges students to think about each value and better understand what they look like in Australian society. A great resource to promote discussion about the values that are fundamental in maintaining our democratic society.
Ongoing Active Participation
It is an important responsibility for citizens to be actively engaged in the decision-making process for their community.
All citizens over the age of 18 years elect representatives to parliament to make decisions on their behalf when they vote in federal, state and local elections. Voting is compulsory in Australia.
Elected representatives are accountable to the community for their actions and decisions. If citizens are not happy with their chosen representative, there are opportunities where they can elect someone else to represent their concerns and interests, at the next available election.
Australians also have freedom of speech and freedom to assemble. Citizens can inform the government of anything that may concern them through a variety of ways, such as corresponding with their sitting parliamentary representative, organizing and collecting a petition, voicing concerns through a community newspaper, or attending a protest.
Rules & Laws
The rule of law underpins our democratic way of life and provides freedoms for everyone living in Australian society. Knowing the difference between a rule and a law from an early age, helps citizens to understand Australian society’s expectations and what responsibilities they have in order to maintain it.
An important element of the rule of law is the concept that the law applies to all- including the police and other members of law enforcement, members of parliament, community and religious leaders. The student activity resources below help teach about the difference between rules and laws, how laws are passed and how they are applied equally and fairly.
Rule of Law Education provide resources for teachers and students to learn about Australian civics, citizens, and citizenship. These resources include information and activities to help students understand how they can become effective citizens in our society.
A fun and engaging way to teach your students about the meaning and importance of Australian citizenship, and how they too can make a difference!
Every Australian citizen has a responsibility to contribute to maintaining a safe, protected and free society.