Petitions and people power
Inquiry: How and why do people participate in groups to achieve shared goals?
Learning objective: Students will understand what a petition is and how it can be used to raise awareness of community issues in the Legislative Assembly.
- How people with shared beliefs and values work together to achieve a civic goal (ACHASSK118)
- Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges (ACHASSI102)
- Present ideas, findings, viewpoints and conclusions in a range of texts and modes that incorporate source materials, digital and non-digital representations and discipline-specific terms and conventions (ACHASSI105)
Resources you'll need for this lesson:
Focus for the lesson is having the community voice heard through a petition to the Legislative Assembly.
- Explore a petition case study with the students—On 20 March 2018 a petition was lodged by Ms Fitzharris concerning the lack of a light rail stop in Mitchell and requested that a light rail stop be put in Mitchell. The petition was signed by 4560 residents. As a result of this petition the Government has responded by committing to investigating the addition of a light rail stop in Mitchell
- Find the details of the petition and read the government response to the petition.
- Watch the lodgement of the petition and the speech by Minister Fitzharris.
- Read the Hansard— Find the lodgement of the petition on page 691 and a statement concerning a light rail stop in Mitchell by Minister Fitzharris is on page 695.
- Whole class discussion on petitions—suggested prompt questions:
- What is a petition?—It is document that is signed by people who support the issue being highlighted by the petition.
- What are the features of a petition? (look at the petition examples in the case study and Penelope Primrose story)—it is addressed to the Assembly, highlights the issue of footpaths not being fixed quickly enough, asks that the Assembly change the footpath laws to ensure footpaths are fixed in one week and is signed by people from the community.
- Who is the petition addressed to?—Members of the Legislative Assembly (parliament).
- How is the petition lodged with the parliament?—A Member sponsors the petition (in the story Penelope Primrose is the member who has been asked to sponsor the petition. She lodges the petition with the Clerk who will announce this at the next sitting day) View a clip of the Clerk doing this.
- Who can sign a petition?—Any ACT resident.
- Where do you sign petitions?—The petitioner (the person organising the petition) will go out into the community to collect signatures. They could do this in person at shopping centres, community events and meetings or leave the petition in prominent locations around the community for people to sign. Petitions can also be electronic so they can be signed on a computer or mobile device wherever you are.
- Why do people sign petitions?—Petitions are one way to have community views heard in the Legislative Assembly for the ACT.
Using worksheet one, students need to discuss:
- an issue in the school that they think should be fixed;
- why this issue is a problem; and
- how can this issue be fixed.
Using worksheet two, students will complete one of two activity options:
- Option 1: Each group decides on the issue they think is most important to fix (from worksheet 1) and create a petition for this issue.
- Option 2: Each group decides on the issue they think is most important to fix (from worksheet 1). Come back together as a class and each group presents their ideas for a petition. Decide on the issue the class thinks is most important for which they could create a petition. (Did any groups identify similar issues or have a class vote to decide.) Create a petition for this issue.
Additional petition resources
- Petitions factsheet explains how community views can be heard in the Assembly
- Legislative Assembly petitions database of paper petitions and e-petitions that have been lodged with the Assembly
- Hansard records and publishes the debates of the Legislative Assembly. Search the site to find petitions that have been lodged and any speeches made by Members relating to these petitions.
The petition could be a real issue at school that could be lodged with the school leadership team or your school parliament (student representative council (SRC)). Students collect signatures over a period of time (eg. 1 week) during breaks. Count the signatures after the time period has closed, find a member of the school parliament (SRC) who will sponsor the petition and present it as a member of the school parliament.