Resources


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Click on the headings below to be directed down the page to explore our resources. Click 'return to resources menu' at the bottom of each section to come back to the top of the page.


Videos

We have a range of short video series available below. Similarly, you can check out our entire video collection on Vimeo. Visit our Vimeo channel.

A few minutes with your Members

Members of the Legislative Assembly come from all sorts of different background and bring a range a perspectives to their job. Our Few minutes with your Member series explores why MLAs got involved in politics, what their job entails, and what they do day-to-day.

Click on a member's name below to jump to their video. Members' electorates are displayed beside their name, with party affiliations in brackets. Find out which ACT electorate you live in.

Andrew Barr MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 1 minute 56 seconds]

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Yvette Berry MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 2 minutes 45 seconds]

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Candice Burch MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 22 seconds]

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Joy Burch MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 39 seconds]

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Tara Cheyne MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 44 seconds]

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Vicki Dunne MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 32 seconds]

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Mick Gentleman MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 5 seconds]

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Jeremy Hanson CSC MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 2 minutes 53 seconds]

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Giulia Jones MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 37 seconds]

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Elizabeth Kikkert MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 39 seconds]

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Nicole Lawder MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 39 seconds]

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Caroline Le Couteur MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 2 minutes 35 seconds]

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Elizabeth Lee MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 42 seconds]

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James Milligan MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 8 seconds]

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Suzanne Orr MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 2 minutes 20 seconds]

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Mark Parton MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minute 28 seconds]

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Michael Pettersson MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 2 minutes 28 seconds]

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Gordon Ramsay MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 19 seconds]

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Shane Rattenbury MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 2 minutes 50 seconds]

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Chris Steel MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 2 minutes 23 seconds]

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Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 26 seconds]

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Andrew Wall MLA

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 11 seconds]

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Committee snapshots

Much of the detailed work of the Assembly is done by committees, made up of MLAs from most parties. A major part of committee work is conducting inquiries into issues important to our communities. The Committee snapshots series looks at how the inquiry process works, how committees engage with the public, and includes an insight into the 2018 ACT mammal emblem inquiry.

Committees and the inquiry process

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2019, Length: 4 minutes 50 seconds]

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Committees engaging with the community

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2019, Length: 3 minutes 56 seconds]

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Behind the scenes: 2018 ACT mammal emblem inquiry

In 2018, the Environment and Transport and City Services Committee conducted an inquiry into the proposal for a mammal emblem for the ACT. This included two site visits: one to Mulligans Flat and another to Tidbinbilla.

Mulligans Flat visit (24 May 2018)

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 1 minute 36 seconds]

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Tidbinbilla National Park (30 May 2018)

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 3 minutes 22 seconds]

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Symbols of democracy

Our Symbols of democracy series provides a closer look at details of the Legislative Assembly, their history, and their place in our democratic traditions.

The Mace

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2019, Length: 1 minute 43 seconds]

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The Bar of the House

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2017, Length: 1 minute 59 seconds]

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The ACT flag

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2020, Length: 1 minute 43 seconds]

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Parliamentary roles

All members have responsibilities to their electorate, their party (if they belong to one), and the Assembly. These responsibilities can be different for each member depending on their position (such as being a minister, a speaker, or whip), and their role (in government, opposition, or on the cross bench).

Our Parliamentary roles series gives you a closer look at the roles MLAs and parliamentary officials fill in the Assembly and what each role require.

Being the Speaker

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2019, Length: 4 minutes 55 seconds]

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Being the Chief Minister

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2019, Length: 3 minutes 16 seconds]

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Being a Minister

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2019, Length: 4 minutes 16 seconds]

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Being a whip

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2019, Length: 3 minutes]

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Being the opposition

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2018, Length: 5 minutes 6 seconds]

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Being the Clerk

[Office of the Legislative Assembly © 2014, Length: 1 minutes 56 seconds]

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Questions about self-government

When was the Australian Capital Territory granted self government?

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) was granted self-government by the Commonwealth Parliament in 1988 with the passage of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988. The first Assembly was elected in 1989.

Before self-government, the ACT was administered by the Federal Parliament. The Legislative Assembly for the ACT is unique in Australia in that it has responsibility for state/territory functions such as health, education and the administration of justice as well as local government functions such as roads, libraries and waste collection.

Questions about Members of the Legislative Assembly

How many members are in the ACT Legislative Assembly?

There are currently 25 members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). Members are elected every four years by the people of the ACT to represent them and make decisions on their behalf.

With the passage of the Australian Capital Territory (Legislative Assembly) Act 2014 on 5 August 2014 the Legislative Assembly agreed to increase its size from 17 to 25 members at the 2016 election.

Previously, the size of the Assembly could only be changed by Commonwealth regulations made in accordance with an Assembly resolution. In 2013, the Commonwealth Parliament amended the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 to give the Assembly the legislative power to pass an enactment to determine the number of Assembly members.

How many members of each political party are represented in the Ninth Assembly?

The Australian Labor Party has 12 members, the Canberra Liberals has 11 members and the ACT Greens two members.

How many members of the Ninth Assembly are female?

Thirteen of the 25 members of the Ninth Assembly (or 52%) are women:

  • Ms Yvette Berry MLA (ACT Labor);
  • Miss Candice Burch MLA (Canberra Liberals);
  • Ms Joy Burch MLA (ACT Labor);
  • Ms Tara Cheyne MLA (ACT Labor);
  • Ms Bec Cody MLA (ACT Labor);
  • Mrs Vicki Dunne MLA (Canberra Liberals);
  • Mrs Giulia Jones MLA (Canberra Liberals);
  • Ms Elizabeth Kikkert MLA (Canberra Liberals;
  • Ms Caroline Le Couteur MLA (ACT Greens);
  • Ms Nicole Lawder MLA (Canberra Liberals);
  • Ms Elizabeth Lee MLA (Canberra Liberals);
  • Ms Suzanne Orr MLA (ACT Labor); and
  • Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA (ACT Labor).

What is the cross bench?

This is the set of seats allocated to MLAs who belong to neither the government nor the opposition. It is also the name used to refer to this group of MLAs more generally.

Questions about the Speaker, Chief Minister, and Leader of the Opposition

What is the role of the Speaker in the ACT Legislative Assembly?

The Speaker is the member of the Assembly who controls proceedings in the chamber.

The Speaker presides over all debates, speeches, votes and question time, making sure that the standing orders (rules of conduct) and practices of the Assembly are followed, and that appropriate behaviour is maintained within the chamber and gallery.

The Speaker decides who may speak and has the powers to discipline members who break the procedures of the chamber. The Speaker often also represents the Assembly in ceremonial situations.

The Speaker is elected by the Assembly and sits at the head of the chamber on a raised bench.

The Speaker of the current Assembly is Ms Joy Burch MLA who is a member of ACT Labor, the government party in the Assembly.

Deputy Speaker and Assistant Speakers

The Deputy Speaker conducts the Speaker's duties in their absence.

Assistant Speakers step in to perform the role of the Speaker in the chamber only.

Who is the Chief Minister in the ACT?

The Chief Minister is the head of the government of the ACT and is elected by members of the Assembly. The current Chief Minister is Mr Andrew Barr MLA who was elected as Chief Minister by a majority of MLAs at the first sitting of the Ninth Assembly on 31 October 2016. Mr Barr is a member of ACT Labor.

Who is the Leader of the Opposition in the ACT?

The role of opposition is undertaken by largest non-government party. In the Ninth Assembly the Canberra Liberals are the opposition. The Leader of the Opposition is Mr Alistair Coe MLA.

Questions about elections

What is an electorate?

An electorate is an area represented by one or more members of parliament. An electorate is sometimes referred to as a seat, division or a constituency. The ACT Legislative Assembly has five multi-member electorates: Yerrabi; Ginninderra; Kurrajong; Murrumbidgee and; Brindabella, each electing five members.

Which electoral system is used in the ACT?

The Hare-Clark electoral system is used in the ACT. It is a proportional representation electoral system. A booklet, The ACT's Hare-Clark Electoral System: How it works is available from Elections ACT. More information is also available on the Elections ACT website.

When will the next ACT election be held?

The most recent ACT election was held on 15 October 2016. The ACT has a set election date which is the third Saturday of October, every four years. The next ACT election will be held on the 17 October, 2020.

How does the ACT Legislative Assembly fill casual vacancies?

Unlike other parliaments in Australia, the Assembly does not hold a by-election to fill a casual vacancy (created by the resignation or death of an MLA). The processes for electing a new MLA are set out in the Electoral Act 1992.

A new member is chosen by recounting the votes received by the vacating member to establish which candidate is next preferred by these voters (the people who originally voted for the vacating member). For a candidate to be considered in this process, they must have contested the original election and also have indicated that they wish to contest the casual vacancy.

In the event that it is not possible to fill the casual vacancy through this process, for example, if a candidate does not come forward to contest the vacancy, the Legislative Assembly will choose a person to fill the vacancy.

If the vacating member was elected as a member of a registered political party – the new member must be of the same political party. If the vacating member was not a member of a political party (for example, an independent member), the person chosen to fill the vacancy cannot have been a member of a registered political party in the 12 months prior to filling the vacancy.

For more information about casual vacancies and how they are filled, visit the Elections ACT website.

Questions about parliamentary procedure

What are the Standing Orders?

The rules that govern the conduct of debate and Assembly proceedings (including committees). These are available on the Assembly website (Standing Orders).

What is a question on notice?

A question on notice is a written question listed on the Notice Paper asked of a minister which is answered in writing. Questions on notice must relate to public affairs with which the relevant minister is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the Assembly or to any matter of administration for which that minister is responsible.

What is a question without notice?

A question asked orally of a minister during Assembly proceedings where the minister usually has no warning of the content of the question. Like questions on notice, questions must relate to public affairs with which the relevant minister is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the Assembly or to any matter of administration for which that minister is responsible

What is a petition?

Petitioning is one of the traditional methods by which members of the public can make a formal request to the Legislative Assembly. Petitions may be started and submitted by any citizen or group of citizens of the ACT, and must relate to matters within its ministerial responsibility.

Until recently, petitions were only possible in paper form, but in 2013 the Assembly launched an online e-petition facility. The main difference between paper-based and electronic petitions relates to how the process is started. Before starting an e-petition you must seek the sponsorship of an MLA, however paper petitions are often circulated for signatures before a sponsoring MLA is sought. Find out more about petitions.

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Posters

Click on any tab to open the relevant poster. You can print off your own, high-resolution copies by clicking the document link at the bottom of each poster.

What makes the ACT Legislative Assembly unique?

What makes the ACT Legislative Assembly unique?

  • The Assembly is one of only two self-governing parliaments in all of Australia's ten territories.
  • Unlike every other state and territory, the Assembly votes to elect the Chief Minister after an election.
  • There is no Governor to sign bills into law in the ACT. New laws are notified on a website.
  • The Assembly's mace is made of timber and steel, rather than gold and without the traditional crown and royal symbolism.
  • The Assembly is the only parliament which combines both the state and local levels of government.

Print version (PDF 1.1 MB)

Who's who in the ACT Legislative Assembly?

Who's who in the ACT Legislative Assembly?

  • Speaker - the member who runs the debate and maintains order, just like a referee or umpire.
  • Clerk - the seniormost parliamentary official, who makes sure that the Assembly runs smoothly.
  • Deputy Clerk our Deputy Clerk is also the Serjeant-at-Arms and is in charge of the Assembly's mace.
  • Principal Attendant - provides security in the chamber and circulates papers to members.
  • Chief Minister - the leader of the Government, elected by a vote in the Legislative Assembly.
  • Opposition Leader - the leader of the second largest party in the Assembly
  • Deputy leaders.
  • Ministers - members responsible for policy making for the ACT.
  • Government backbench - members of the governing party who are not part of the executive (ministers).
  • Opposition frontbench - all opposition members focus on certain issues to keep ministers accountable through shadow ministries.
  • Opposition backbench.
  • Crossbench - minor party and independent members who often hold the Assembly's balance of power.
  • Public gallery - where members of the public can come, sit, and watch members doing their jobs.

Print version (PDF 270 KB)

The legislative process in the ACT Assembly

The legislative process in the ACT Assembly

  • Input from: intergovernmental agreements; petitions and public consultation; government initiatives; and campaign promises.
  • Drafting  - the Parliamentary Counsel's Office receive directions to write a new bill (draft law).
  • Presentation - the bill is then presented in the Assembly by a member. It is then send to the Scrutiny Committee. Sometimes, the Assembly sends a bill to another committee for an inquiry.
  • Scrutiny - the Scrutiny Committee checks bills comply with the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT)
  • Inquiry - Committees sometimes examine bills in more details in an inquiry. They will ask the public for feedback on the bill.
  • Agreement in Principle - After scrutiny and inquiry stages are complete, the Assembly then debates and votes on whether they agree with a bill's general ideas. Bills need a majority of votes to pass.
  • Detail Stage - During the detail stage, members can go through a bill line-by-line and add, remove, or change the content. Each of these changes are voted on individually. If no changes are proposed, members can choose to move straight to a vote.
  • Agreement - members vote on whether they agree or disagree with the bill.
  • Proof - the bill's text is checked to make sure it is accurate.
  • Notification - the Speaker sends a letter to the Parliamentary Counsel's Office about the bill being passed. Once it is in the online law register, it has become a law.
  • A "no" vote can happen at any stage, the bill proceeds no further. Bills can be recycled but not within the same calendar year.

Print version (PDF 1.2 MB)

Australia's three levels of government

Australia's three levels of government

  • Australia's levels of government are like a big company building, with each level dealing with something different.
  • At the very top is federal government.
  • Further down are the state and territory governments.
  • And at the base of the building are the local governments.
  • The ACT is the only state or territory which combines both territory and local governments.

Print version (PDF 2.8 MB)

The separation of powers in the ACT

The separation of powers in the ACT

  • In Australia, the powers of government are split between three different branches. This separation of powers is an important part of the Westminster System and helps keep those who use power accountable.
  • The Legislature
    • The legislative branch is the ACT Legislative Assembly and it has the power to make and change laws for the ACT.
    • Our Legislative Assembly has 25 members, who are elected from the electorates across the ACT.
  • The Executive:
    • The executive branch is the Chief Minister and ministers, who have the power together to put laws into action.
    • In the ACT, the executive is only allowed to be as large as 9 members (that's 1 chief minister and up to 8 ministers).
  • The Judiciary:
    • The judicial branch is made up of the ACT law courts and tribunals and has the power to make judgements on laws.
    • There are many judges in the ACT judiciary, but did you know that they must retire at their 70th birthday?
  • This is not a complete separation of powers.
    • In Australia, members of the executive (ministers) must also be members of the legislature (MPs). This is a tradition inherited from the UK Parliament, where the Westminster Systems was developed.
    • This is different to other systems of government where executive members cannot also be legislature members, like in the United States of America.

Print version (PDF 1.4 MB)

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Teacher resources

Click on any tab to open the relevant units of works for that year level. Click on the title of any unit to access its lesson plans, worksheets, and resources, including downloadable versions for you to use.

Helpful hint: Hover your cursor over curriculum links to see the link's full description.

Year 3

Symbols and emblems: Parliamentary maces

  • Unit length: One (1) lesson
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK071, ACHASSK070 ACHASSK064

A simple lesson looking at the symbolism of parliamentary maces, including an activity to design and build one for your classroom.


Symbols and emblems: ACT flag

  • Unit length: One (1) lesson
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK064

A simple lesson looking at the symbolism of flags, including an activity to design a new flag for the ACT.


Participating in your community

  • Unit length: One (1) lesson
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK072

Explores what it means to be an active citizen and investigate ways to contribute to and participate in their local community, using the book Belonging by Jeannie Baker.


Rules and democratic decision making

  • Unit length: Three (3) lessons
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK071,ACHASSI058, ACHASSI059, ACHASSI061

Covers why we have rules, why they're important, and how rules can be changed, explored through the book Mr Stink by David Walliams.

Year 4

Local government and the community

  • Unit length: One (1) lesson
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK091

Looks at what local government does and how it impacts - and can be be impacted by- local communities, through the example of the 'Straws Suck' campaign. Tailored specifically to the ACT's combined territory and local government responsibilities .


The role and importance of rules and laws

  • Unit length: Two (2) lessons
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK092, ACHASSI059, ACHASSI079, ACHASSI080, ACELY1689

Explores the difference between rules and laws, how they're made, and why they're important, using the book Mr Stink by David Walliams.

Year 5

Working together: parliaments and the community

  • Unit length: One (1) lesson
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK118, ACHASSI094, ACHASSI101

Looks at ways the community can have their voices heard through a parliament's committee system, using the story Penelope Primrose by Joann McAlister. Specifically designed to reflect Legislative Assembly's committee system.


Petitions and people power

  • Unit length: One (1) lesson
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK118, ACHASSI102, ACHASSI105

A simple lesson exploring what a petition is and how it can be used to raise awareness of community issues, using the story Penelope Primrose by Joann McAlister.


Democracy and voting in the ACT

  • Unit length: Four (4) lessons
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK115; ACHASSK116, ACHASSI098, ACHASSI103 , ACHASSI105, ACHCK023, ACELY1707

Covers the importance of elections, voting, and elected representatives in democratic systems through the book Mr Stink by David Walliams. Specifically designed to reflect the ACT's Hare-Clark electoral system.

Year 6

Passing a law in the ACT

  • Unit length: One (1) lesson
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK146

A simple lesson exploring how legislation is passed in the Legislative Assembly, using the story Penelope Primrose by Joann McAlister. Specifically designed to reflect Legislative Assembly's legislative process.


Developing and passing laws

  • Unit length: Two (2) lessons
  • Curriculum links: ACHASSK115; ACHASSK116, ACHASSI098, ACHASSI103 , ACHASSI105, ACHCK023, ACELY1707

A more in-depth look into why we have laws, where ideas for them come from, and how they're passed, explored through the book Mr Stink by David Walliams. Specifically designed to reflect Legislative Assembly's legislative process.

Year 7

A Constitutional Convention

  • Convention length: Eight (8) activities
  • Curriculum links: ACHCK048, ACHCK049, ACHCS056

This resource has been developed to provide teachers with a framework designed to facilitate students’ participation in a constitutional convention. The aim is to promote understanding and informed discussion about the Australian Constitution, the federal system of government, and how changes to the Constitution are made via a referendum.

Year 8

Resources under development.

Year 9

Resources under development.

Year 10

Resources under development.

Years 11-12

Resources under development.

General resources

Print-out activities

Game

MLA dash - can you keep up with the daily pace of a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)?

MLA dash (PDF 380KB) - Print out and play this game to learn more about the work of you Members.

Suitable for 4 players, age 8-12 years

Model for a school parliament

These program materials have been developed as a parliamentary-style model for use in conducting proceedings of a primary school student representative council (SRC). It is based on a number of institutional features of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT.

Separately from a school’s SRC arrangements, the materials can also be utilised by upper primary teachers to meet the requirements for teaching the Australian Curriculum Civics and Citizenship strand.

The program acquaints students with a number of key democratic concepts, including the importance of elections and the role of elected representatives in a parliamentary system. It can also be undertaken as a school outreach activity where the Assembly’s education and engagement officers conduct sessions to meet the particular needs of individual schools.

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Useful websites

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