Discovering democracy: Law

 collections_indigenous rights

Copyright Education Services Australia

Resource title: Discovering democracy: Law

Digital resource identifier: L9518

Resource description
This learning object explores the struggles of Indigenous Australians for land rights.

Stage of schooling: Middle Primary

CCE focus: Citizenship in a Democracy


This learning object uses a slide show of text and images to explore the evolution of land rights in Australian law, from the bark petition of the Yolngu of Arnhem land in 1963 to the High Court’s Mabo decision in 1992, which recognised Indigenous peoples’ rights to land. It provides students with the opportunity to trace the evolution of Indigenous rights in relation to the law and to understand how civic participation raised awareness of an injustice that led to a change of community attitudes and the law.

Opportunities for Civics and Citizenship learning

‘Discovering democracy: Law’ provides opportunities for students to:

  • investigate Indigenous peoples’ political and legal struggle for cultural rights

  • understand the significance of land to Indigenous peoples, their culture and identity

  • recognise that Indigenous peoples’ political participation has contributed to Australia’s democracy

  • recognise that the legal system can be an important source of change in democratic societies

  • recognise that the law is an important safeguard of the rights of minorities in a democracy

  • understand that social movements are an effective form of participation in democracies

  • investigate how campaigns for social justice have been important catalysts for democratic change.

Ideas for the classroom

  • Ask students to draw a wheel and in the centre write ‘Indigenous land rights’. The circle is then divided into four quarters. In the first quarter, ask students to write down all they know about the topic; in the second quarter, what they would like to know; in the third, how they could find out; and in the fourth, how they feel about the topic.

  • Ask students to explore the learning object and to revisit their wheel, modifying the quarters accordingly.

  • Ask students to share the information on their wheel with another student and to reflect on how their understanding of Indigenous land rights has changed.

  • Complete the activity by asking each student to share an interesting point made by their partner.