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Ideas that led to Australia’s Federation

Key learning

Students will investigate key elements of Australia’s system of law and government and their origins (for example, the Magna Carta; federalism; constitutional monarchy; the Westminster system and the separation of powers – legislature, executive, judiciary; the houses of parliament; how laws are made)

The Australian Curriculum
Year 6 History ACHASSK134 – Key figures, events and ideas that led to Australia’s Federation and Constitution
Year 6 skills ACHASSI122 – Develop appropriate questions to guide an inquiry about people, events, developments, places, systems and challenges.
Year 6 skills ACHASSI123 – Locate and collect relevant information and data from primary sources and secondary sources.

Watch the film the Journey on the Australian Constitution Centre homepage.

Discussion questions
After watching the six-minute film the Journey hold a class discussion to find out what students know about the history of Australia’s federation.

  1. What are the origins of Australian system of government?
  2. Identify and define democracy.
  3. Identify and define the rule of law.
  4. Identify and define the separation of powers.
  5. Identify and define federalism.
  6. Identify and define nationhood.
  7. Identify and define rights.



Lesson strategy

  1. Assign students into 5 small groups of 4
  2. Assign each group with a foundational principle to research i.e.  the rule of law, the separation of powers, federalism, nationhood and rights.
  3. Each member of the group is to research the following regarding their principle:
  • Definition
  • Origins-historical significance etc…
  • Significance to the Australian Constitution
  • How does it affect me?
  1. Instruct groups to create a google doc and to share it with the teacher and their group members, using each member’s research area as subheadings
  2. Provide websites to assist students with research and allows groups to undertake task independently.

Ask students to:

  • Identify and define the six underlying principles of the Australian Constitution: democracy, the rule of law, the separation of powers, federalism, nationhood and rights balanced by responsibilities.
  • Explain the origins of the Australian Constitution by referring to the six underlying principles and certain historical events in other countries.

What is the Australian Constitution?
Rule of Law
Separation of Powers