Discovering Democracy Curriculum Resources (1998-2004)

The Discovering Democracy program was premised on the conviction that civics and citizenship education is central to Australian education and the maintenance of a strong and vital citizenship. To be able to participate as active citizens throughout their lives, students need a thorough knowledge and understanding of Australia’s political heritage, democratic processes and government, and judicial system.

The Discovering Democracy program included:

  • development of curriculum materials and professional learning resources
  • funding for professional development programs in all States and Territories
  • a program of national activities that included funding for principal, parent, academic and key learning area groups, as well as the initiation of Celebrating Democracy Week and the National Schools Constitutional Convention.

Discovering Democracy Kits (1998 distribution)

The kits were provided to all primary and secondary schools throughout Australia. The primary kit included books of teaching and learning units for both middle and upper primary students, and the secondary kits included books of teaching and learning units for both lower and middle secondary students.

The Discovering Democracy teaching and learning units are available at the Discovering Democracy Units website.

The learning units for each level are built around four themes:

  • Who Rules?
  • Laws and Rights
  • The Australian Nation
  • Citizens and Public Life

Both primary and secondary kits included a video of segments suitable for use with individual teaching and learning units. Full-colour posters and CD-ROMS linked to the teaching and learning units were also provided, as well as advice on ways to use the teaching and learning materials, issues related to scheduling of units and integration into courses, and ways to use the CD-ROMs and the Internet effectively. The two CD-ROMS and another professional resource included are described below.

Discovering Democracy: A Guide to Government and Law in Australia (1998 distribution)

This book contains information about the history, structure and operations of Australian democracy. It provides background material and information needed to teach all of the Discovering Democracy units. It is written largely for teachers, but is useful for older students as well.

Stories of Democracy CD-ROM (1998 distribution)

Stories of Democracy contains primary and secondary source materials for students that support the teaching and learning units. Sources are print, video, graphic and audio media.

Further Discovering Democracy sources and their year of distribution follow.

Parliament at Work CD-ROM (1999 distribution)

Parliament at Work contains a range of activities for both primary and secondary students.

The primary activities are:  

  • Explore Parliament House
  • Save the Wombat
  • People in Parliament

The secondary activities are:  

  • Voting Counts
  • Draw the Boundaries
  • Pass the Bill
  • Opal Bay
  • Balancing the Budget

One Destiny! The Federation Story Centenary Edition (2001 distribution)

One Destiny! The Federation Story Centenary Edition was issued to all schools in May 2001.

This is an extensive redevelopment of the original CD-ROM, first issued in 1997. Intended as a resource for teacher-directed learning about Federation, its new educational activities explore eight themes from the Federation story:  

  • Flag for a New Nation
  • An Australian Nation
  • Views from the Colonies
  • The Women’s Story
  • First Australians in 1901
  • An Australian Constitution
  • The Road to Federation
  • The People Choose.

Each theme has its own slide show and a narration by the animated figure of either Henry Parkes or Louisa Lawson. The themes also offer additional educational activities such as interactive games and source libraries for further exploration.

The Centenary Edition also features extensive, printable teacher notes, a guide to using historical sources, a tools facility so that students can take notes and collect material, and a link to the Discovering Democracy website

Australians All! Discovering Democracy Australian Readers Lower Primary (2001 distribution)

Australians All! is designed for whole-class and small-group shared reading. This collection introduces civics concepts and promotes literacy development. Presented in full-colour big-book format, the stories, poems and songs in this collection link to the themes of Discovering Democracy at a level appropriate to lower primary students.

The accompanying Teacher Guide contains questions and activities that provide suggestions for shared reading and assist teachers in developing the key civics ideas and literacy features addressed in each text.

Australian Readers: Middle Primary, Upper Primary, Lower Secondary and Middle Secondary (1999 distribution)

These four Australian Readers provide complementary materials for exploring civics and citizenship concepts using contemporary and historical written and visual texts as a base. The books are intended for use within the Studies of Society and Environment and English key learning areas, and within integrated learning environments. They consist of a range of text types from a variety of cultures and periods, organised around the four themes established for the units.

The collections are in full colour. Separate teacher guides were distributed for primary schools.

Assessment Resources (2000 distribution)

This series of four books provides assessment materials for use with the Discovering Democracy units. Each structured assessment activity can be undertaken during or at the end of a unit.

The assessment tasks address Discovering Democracy unit indicators of student achievement and State and Territory outcomes in Studies of Society and Environment. Each task includes:

  • a teacher guide
  • student resources sheets
  • a marking guide
  • annotated student work samples

The tasks were trialled in schools across Australia to ensure that they were challenging, enjoyable and practical.

Discovering Democracy through Research (2000 distribution)

This book is a resource for teachers that provides students with the opportunity to engage in active and rigorous research of local, State or Territory, national and international issues.

Using both historical and contemporary elements, the research investigations enhance students’ understanding of civics and citizenship concepts developed through the Discovering Democracy units and the Australian Readers.

Student handouts provide support for planning, interviewing and data analysis. The introduction provides practical advice for teachers about maximising student outcomes and managing student research.

Australia's Democracy: A short history, John Hirst (2002 distribution)

This resource for teachers and students is designed to support Australian History and Politics studies in senior secondary classrooms. It tells the story of the democracy Australians have made.

The first part is a narrative history which traces the growth of democratic rights and freedoms from convict times until the present day. It charts the twists and turns in the evolution and construction of Australia’s democracy and examines notable Australian innovations, such as the secret ballot, the basic wage and the practice of democratic manners.

The second part is a series of short interpretative essays that explore the oddities of Australia’s democratic society and investigates central themes such as egalitarianism, loyalty to Britain, mateship, and women and citizenship.

Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Secondary Collection (2002 distribution)

The Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Secondary Collection is a thought-provoking collection for senior secondary students through which they can explore central civics ideas and issues. The texts represent a range of classic and contemporary and male and female voices from different cultural contexts discussing issues relevant to the shaping of today’s civil society. The written texts in this full-cover book are supported by powerful images that speak to the themes.

There are three sections.  

  • ‘Words make worlds’ examines how language describes and shapes particular views of the world.
  • ‘People make politics’ explores the foundations of civil society and the motivations for political behaviour.
  • ‘Shifting boundaries’ focuses on aspects of change and the future of civil society.

Students can explore the texts and ideas through three levels of discussion questions.