Responsibilities and rights: Making civic decisions


Middle secondary

Curriculum links

Links to the Australian Curriculum


Working in small groups, students investigate concepts related to social and economic decision-making. They define issues for some different groups within Australia, then assign either government or individual responsibility for each issue.


Two sessions


Paper and pens


  1. Setting the scene
    Begin this activity by asking the class the difference between a right and a responsibility. Have them give an example (e.g . voting) that involves both a right and a responsibility.
  2. Defining issues
    Ask students to imagine that they belong to one of these four groups: adolescents; people with disabilities; migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB); people over age 65. Have them think about some issues that might affect people in each of these groups. (If necessary, have them do some research to better inform their ideas.)

    Divide the class into groups according to their choices (e.g., all adolescents together; all migrants together). As a group, ask them to identify five important issues affecting them. After they have decided on the list, have each student make a chart like the one below:


    What the individual should do

    What the government should do

    Have the students work as a group to list the five issues, then identify and list both what individuals should do and what governments should do about each issue.

  3. Clarifying ideas
    Create new groups by having one student from each societal group join together. The new groups will each have a person representing the issues for adolescents, for people with disabilities, for migrants, and for elderly people. Each person takes turns sharing information on issues, individual and government action. Have them identify any similarities among the groups. For example, are there any common issues among the societal groups? Are there certain matters for which individuals should take responsibility? Are there certain matters for which government should take responsibility?
  4. Taking a stand
    Ask students to think about the following questions: What makes a good citizen? What makes a good government? Have them support their ideas with examples from their work in this activity. Ask them to suggest other elements of good citizenship and good government.

Extension activity

Have students choose an issue from their discussions to follow up with their State Government. Ask them to use a variety of resources (Internet, print documents, interviews) to find out how government resources are being used to meet needs in this area.

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