Student handout 1: The Franklin Dam dispute and the Tasmanian Wilderness Society

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Focus questions

What is an interest group?
What actions and strategies are available to citizens and interest groups in a democracy to influence government decision-making?
How successful were these strategies in the case of the Franklin Dam dispute?
What key interest groups are active on current issues?

Part 1: Getting Things Done video

During your viewing of the video complete the first column of the table that identifies the type of action used by the interest group, the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, to achieve political change. In groups, discuss the actions of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society and complete the second and third columns.

Tasmanian Wilderness Society
Type of actionAim of actionSuccess/failure of action
Group discussion questions

1. The Franklin Dam dispute is described as a 'conflict of values'. What values were they and whose values were they? How was this values dispute resolved?

2. Why do you think that the Tasmanian Wilderness Society initiated media workshops and training workshops in non-violent action for its supporters? How successful were these as strategies?

3. Which Australian governments were involved in this dispute? How successful was the Tasmanian Wilderness Society in influencing these governments?

4. The Tasmanian Wilderness Society is an example of an interest group. From your viewing of the video, write down a definition of Interest Group.

Part 2

1. Look at sources 3-17 from Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units, 'Getting Things Done' (pp 174-5). This unit is also available on the Discovering Democracy website at:

Make a list of other actions that are mentioned in these sources. How many of these actions could be used by other citizens or groups of citizens who are concerned about particular issues?

2. In groups discuss and list other interest groups that you know about and the issues they are involved in, for example Clean Up Australia encourages local communities to clean up and conserve the environment.

Overview | Notes for teachers | Introductory activity | Topic 1 | Topic 2 | Topic 3 | Student handout 1 | Student handout 2 | Student handout 3 | Student handout 4 | Student handout 5