Living in a Democratic Society

Defining a democratic society

A democracy by definition is government through elected representatives. It is a form of society which favours equal rights, freedom of speech and a fair trial and tolerates the views of minorities. A healthy civil society requires responsible and active citizens who value the system of government and work towards a shared vision of civil life.

A definition of a citizen's responsibilities

Good citizenship values and models responsible behavior, attitudes and democratic values. Good citizenship requires knowledge of a society's major social, political and legal institutions, the capacity and disposition to participate within those institutions, and an awareness of the rights and obligations that citizenship entails. It requires involvement in the civil life of a community whether through formal participation, such as standing or voting in elections for public bodies, or working individually or collectively to build stronger, inclusive and sustainable communities.

Democratic values

Values such as respect and 'fair go' are part of Australia's common democratic way of life.  They reflect our commitment to a multicultural and environmentally sustainable society where all are entitled to justice.

Nine Values for Australian Schooling have emerged from Australian school communities and from the National Goals for Schooling in Australia in the Twenty-First Century. They are presented below in alphabetical order and not in any rank order of importance.

Nine Values for Australian Schooling

  1. Care and Compassion. Care for self and others.
  2. Doing Your Best. Seek to accomplish something worthy and admirable, try hard, pursue excellence.
  3. Fair Go. Pursue and protect the common good where all people are treated fairly for a just society.
  4. Freedom. Enjoy all the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship free from unnecessary interference or control, and stand up for the rights of others.
  5. Honesty and Trustworthiness. Be honest, sincere and seek the truth.
  6. Integrity. Act in accordance with principles of moral and ethical conduct, ensure consistency between words and deeds.
  7. Respect. Treat others with consideration and regard, respect another person's point of view.
  8. Responsibility. Be accountable for one's own actions, resolve differences in constructive, non-violent and peaceful ways, contribute to society and to civic life, take care of the environment.
  9. Understanding, Tolerance and Inclusion. Be aware of others and their cultures, accept diversity within a democratic society, being included and including others.

From National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools, Commonwealth of Australia, 2005, page 4