The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has released the National Curriculum on Civics and Citizenship that, pending approval from State and Territory education ministers, will be implemented over the next few years in schools throughout Australia.
State and territory education authorities will be required to incorporate the contents and outcomes of the Curriculum into their syllabuses.
The Curriculum includes materials for students from Year 3 to Year 10. The importance of rule of law principles to Australia’s system of government is an overarching theme of the Curriculum from Year 6 onward:
- Year 6 includes a study of key institutions of Australia’s democratic system of government based on the Westminster system including the suggestion of looking at the importance of key historical documents such as the Magna Carta on the development of the rule of law.
- Year 7 has a focus on how Australia’s legal system aims to provide justice through the rule of law, presumption of innocence, burden of proof, right to a fair trial and right to legal representation.
- Year 8 introduces freedom of speech, association, assembly, religion and movement as important freedoms which enable participation in democracy.
- Year 9 promotes an understanding of equality before the law, an independent judiciary and the right of appeal.
- In Year 10 a comparative study with another country on the separation of powers and the role of the High Court in interpreting the Australian Constitution.
The inclusion of the rule of law in the Curriculum and the role of civic institutions is essential for students to develop as citizens who participate in democracy, and understand their legal rights and responsibilities.