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Teacher’s Handbook: Parliament at Work CD-ROM


Joy Schultz, Sandra Kenman and QSOSE Consortium

Audience: Middle and upper primary

Purpose: To provide an overview of the CD-ROM to support teachers when planning lessons and monitoring students’ progress

Links to Curriculum:

QSOSE has developed a planning matrix as a separate document. This document includes a matrix which links the Discovering Democracy materials, the learning outcomes in the new SOSE syllabus, and examples of topics currently taught in schools. Copies have been sent to all Queensland schools.

Discovering Democracy links

Parliament at Work CD-ROM





Note the menu at the top left of the screen. Click on Show for choices of

  • Main menu
  • Help
  • Notebook
  • Glossary
  • Sound
  • Exit

The first screen for each module has the name of the module in the centre eg Explore Parliament House and a link to a unit in the printed books eg We Remember.

There are four modules to select:

Explore Parliament House Linked to We Remember

Save the Wombat Linked to Joining In

People in Parliament Linked to People make a Nation

Quiz Linked to all units of work.

Explore Parliament House

First screen: Locations and functions of some important objects found in this building.

Next screen a cartoon style presenter welcoming and explaining to students their goal - to decide which items are symbols and which are not as they click on a map. The map has the sections listed below. Students are presented with a number of ‘balls’ and places or items. They drag the ball to the correct place or item in the photograph. When the correct spot is located, the ball changes colour and a sound is heard. The presenter then provides information about the item/person/place and students decide whether or not it is a symbol.

Great Hall

  • Great Hall tapestry – closely packed gum trees are a symbol of parts of Australia.
  • Great Hall embroidery – symbol of the changes people have made to the land over time.


  • Coat of Arms – Symbol of Australia made of different States and Parliament. Looks like a skeleton and is a reminder of Aboriginal x-ray paintings.
  • Flag mast – As high as a fifteen stories of building. Feet join two houses of parliament. A symbol of our system of government.
  • Mosaic – Made out of pieces of granite – very hard rock. Shows a gathering of ancestors. Symbol of Parliament as a meeting place - making decisions which affect all Australians.
  • Parliament House – opened in 1988. A symbol of the centre of a nation. Designed so people can walk over it to remind politicians they are not above the people.

Main Foyer

  • Marble columns – remind people of gum trees. Columns of the country.
  • Security desk (use left red arrow)
  • South wall timber panels – show plants that interested the first white scientists - symbol of our history.
  • North wall timber panels – plants used by Aboriginals – symbol of role of Aborigines as part of our history.

At any point, students can ‘View collection’ or see a list of the items they have selected as symbols.

Cabinet Room – description from presenter – photograph – three balls tagged cabinet table, flag, secretary’s table. Students click on each one and the correct ball can be dragged to the relevant space. If students do not know the correct position they can find by trial and error. The ball changes colour when correctly placed and a sound is heard. Students listen to the presenter and then decide if it is a symbol or not.

  • Cabinet table: Students receive a tick ‘yes’ and hear that the table is a symbol of the keel of a ‘ship’. Students can copy to notebook if required. They have choices of ‘grab’, ‘print’, ‘load’ or ‘save’.
  • Flag: (unable to locate?)
  • Secretary’s table: (unable to locate?)

Senate’s Chamber –Students sometimes have to click on the large red arrow to gain the correct view of the Chamber.

  • President’s Chair is a symbol of role of speaker.
  • Government front bench. Not a symbol.
  • Opposition front bench. Not a symbol.
  • Press gallery. Not a symbol.
  • Black Rod. Symbol of power of President of Senate. (Goes back to when the King had to knock on door of parliament before he was allowed to enter).
  • Coat of Arms. Symbol of Australia and parliament. Badges of six states as they were in 1912. Presenter gives details.
  • Back benches. Not a symbol.
  • Colour. The red colour of the Senate. A tradition of 400 years ago – House of Lords colour – same colour for Australia’s upper house. Symbol.
  • Broadcast studio. Students may need to click large red arrow to get to the correct area. Not a symbol.
  • Cross benches. Not a symbol.
  • Public gallery. Not a symbol.
  • Hansard desk. Not a symbol.

Members’ Hall

Students match the following to paintings or documents. Presenter describes the painting/document and students decide if a symbol is involved.

Opening of first parliament; Queen Elizabeth II opening Parliament in 1988; Constitution Act 1901; William Morris Hughes; John Curtin; Robert Menzies; Magna Carta (Symbol); First Australian-born Governor-General; First Prime Minister; First female parliamentarian; Bark Petition (Symbol); First Aboriginal Parliamentarian.

House of Representatives

Presenter provides information as students place the ball in the correct position.

  • Coat of Arms - (cannot locate?)
  • Speaker’s chair – size is a symbol of the role of the speaker.
  • Back benches – not a symbol – listen to presenter
  • Public gallery – not a symbol
  • Government front bench – not a symbol
  • Press gallery – not a symbol
  • Colour – green is the traditional colour of the lower house of the British parliament – green the colour of green or ‘common’ areas. A symbol.
  • Mace – carried into the House when the Speaker enters. A symbol of the power of the Speaker. Used to be carried by the King’s body guard.
  • Hansard desk – not a symbol
  • Opposition front bench – not a symbol
  • Broadcast studio – not a symbol.

Save the Wombat

Community Action

First visuals: Person driving a car. Small wombat, dead mother. Driver asked to click the road sign or the wombat depending on whether or not to take the wombat. Road sign goes back to wombat.

Students are asked to make a number of choices. The following is one example of the path to certain choices.

Wombat asks whether she can stay/have pizza or not stay/call animal shelter. Click on phone with sections pizza, council, shelter.

Pizza – students sign name and click box when pizza delivered.

Council – reminds listener it is against the law to keep a wombat at home. Wombat suggests doing something to stop wombats getting run over OR taking back to bush. Students select.

Back to bush: Goes back to beginning or Animal shelter choice - students asked to play back message on answering machine. No room at shelter. Let me go? Disappointed not saving other wombats. Back to beginning.

Need to select ‘stay…pizza…council…save the wombat’ to progress. Two choices: do something alone straight away or get a group together. Click book with one of these choices.

Working alone – write to council again OR get more people to help.

Write to council – choose the better letter. If asking to change the law – answering machine reminds that the law is not a local issue so council cannot help. Send other letter asking for fences and tunnels. Answering machine – council cannot afford to build. Action? Take wombat back or something else – carry case to go back or whiteboard for something else.

Whiteboard – do something alone OR work with a group. Working in a group - wombat at a group action meeting. Click to write to council or to get more people. More people – choose fundraise to save wombat OR get more signatures on petition. Fundraise - choose how to spend money – hire a lobbyist to change the law OR build fences/tunnels. Commonwealth spokesperson says not their issue. Choose new ideas. Choose build fences and tunnels. Six weeks later. Fences and tunnels. Cut the ribbon. Student receives a certificate with name printed.

People Make a Nation

People in Parliament

Cartoon parliamentary guide introduces the concept of people who go to Parliament House. Students click on spinner to see the task to be completed.

Examples of tasks:

  • Students have to find two people who keep order in the Chambers (by searching a map) and then type their answer in the space provided.

Map takes students to:

The Great Hall (photograph) – students click on a list to hear about people in the Great Hall: Staffer for politician; School group; Catering staff member; Parliamentary Researcher.

Main Foyer (photograph) – Visitor; Lobbyist; Chair of Senate Committee; Security Guard; Parliamentary Education Office staff member.

Senate Chamber (photograph) – Whip; Usher of the Black Rod; chairman of Committees; Clerk; Leader of the Government in the Senate; Senator, Government frontbench; Public gallery member; Ministerial Adviser; Senator, Opposition backbench; President; Press gallery member; Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Cabinet Room – Prime Minister; Cabinet Secretary; Cabinet Minister.

House of Representatives – Whip; Speaker; Serjeant-at-Arms; Prime Minister; Opposition backbench; Leader of the Opposition; Independent member; Hansard reporter; Government frontbench; Adviser; Press gallery member.

Answers for this task: President and Speaker.

Students spin the wheel for another task.

  • Another task requires students to use the map and commentary to find an Independent member of the parliament an Opposition Senator.

Answer: Independent Member in House of Representatives; Senator Opposition Backbench in Senate.

  • Another task requires students to use the map to find two representatives appointed to run an area of Government. Answers: Government frontbench in House of Representatives. Cabinet Minister in Cabinet Room.
  • Another task requires students to use the map to find three people who provide advice to politicians. Answer: Adviser in House of Representatives. Ministerial Adviser in Senate Chamber. Staffer for politician – Great Hall.

Note: The commentary is the same for each part of the map so students may either benefit from reinforcement, or be bored by repetition.

Quiz – all sections

Students answer 12 questions about Australian democracy. Note that some answers may not be found from information in the CD. Other sources of information eg the units or prior learning may be required.

Visual – a house at night. Radio not working properly. Intergalactic interference. Green beam sucks son (Toby) into spaceship. Toby has been selected to represent Australia and has to answer true or false questions.

True or false. The Governor-General choses the Cabinet. False. Students are given printed details of a correct answer.

What is a Dorothy Dixer? A question asked to make a Minister look good.

True or false. The opposition sits on the right of the speaker. False.

Senators represent: Your state or territory.

Australia has a federal system of government. This means that our system of government is. One which gives powers and responsibilities to the national and state governments.

How long is a Senator permitted to speak in parliamentary debate? No more than 30 minutes.

What is a parliamentary division? A vote in parliament.

True or false: Voting in Australia is compulsory. True.

The Black Rod is: A ceremonial staff carried into the Senate and remains there during the Senate’s session.

How many members are there in the federal House of Representatives? 148

Australia’s Constitution came into effect on: 1 January 1901

The Mace is: A ceremonial staff carried into the House of Representatives.

Students receive a percentage score for correct answers. Spaceship selects the candidate to continue the mission representing Australia.

Students have the opportunity to try the quiz again with another series of questions.

The House of Representatives is also known as: The People’s House

All electorates are the same geographical size or area: true or false? False.

The main colour used in the Senate is: Red.

When did the Commonwealth Parliament first meet in Canberra? 1927.

Your local member represents: Your local electorate.

Australia has a federal system of government. This means that our system of government is: One which divides powers and responsibilities between the commonwealth and the state governments.

The Leader of the Opposition sits: Opposite the Prime Minister

The Governor-General: Represents the Queen.

How long is a Senator permitted to speak in parliamentary debate? 30 minutes.

The main colour used in the House of Representatives? Green.

Where did the first Commonwealth Parliament meet? Melbourne.

To become the federal government, a party or coalition of parties must win: More than half the number of seats in the House of Representatives.

The section continues with another attempt.

The following worksheet is not part of the CD. It has been included by QSOSE as an aid to determining student progress while using the CD.



Complete these questions after you have worked through this section of the CD.

  1. Make a list of parts of Parliament House you explored.
  2. Choose three symbols you believe are the most interesting and justify your choice.
  3. Choose three symbols you believe are the most important for people to understand the role of parliament. Justify your answer.
  4. Describe some symbols used in your local area. For example, local art, local statues, street names or buildings.


In this CD you had to make a number of decisions to decide how to save the wombat.

What types of decisions might you have to make in the following situation.

The koalas in your local area are disappearing because they do not have enough gum trees for safety and food.


I might…………………………………… OR I might……………………………..


I might…………………………………… OR I might……………………………..


I might…………………………………… OR I might……………………………..


I might…………………………………… OR I might……………………………..


After completing this section of the CD, decide which three people seem to have the most interesting jobs and justify your choice. Make a list of all the people in the table below.


Description of job



What was your score for the first attempt?…………

What was your score for the second attempt?………….

What was your score for the third attempt?……………..

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