The Court System In Australia
- In Australia, an important principle, enshrined in the constitution, is that the Judiciary is independent of Parliament. The idea of this separation of powers means that court processes and decisions cannot be influenced by Parliament or Executive. Watch the first segment of the video, High Court Documentary. Discuss with students what might happen in countries where the separation of powers does not exist.
- In Australia, each state and territory have their own court system. There are four federal courts – high, federal, family and federal circuit. They all have specialist roles with the high court being the court of final appeal regarding judgements from all other courts in Australia. Ask students to view The roles and responsibilities of the three levels of government and create a Word application diagram to name each court and the role it plays. Links to each state and territory parliament is provided on this site. As a group, discuss their findings and why an appeal process regarding court decisions is important.
- Law making in Australia is divided between parliament (statute laws) and courts (common law). All laws must follow a set of principles, Rule of law, to ensure that they are fair and protect an individual’s rights and freedoms.
For further teaching ideas regarding making laws and the rule of law, visit the Laws and Crime theme.
- The legal system maintains equity and justice by providing support to citizens who are arrested (remember that in Australia there is the presumption of innocence until the courts have proven guilt).
Discuss as a class, why the presumption of innocence is so important in a democratic system that promotes active citizenship? Students should consider how this may encourage more people to use Crime Stoppers.
- Provide students with either the What To Do If Charged With A Criminal Offence information sheet from the Frances Burt law Education program or The Victorian Legal Aid Criminal Offences information sheet. Students discuss the rights of an arrested citizen and investigate one of the organisations identified in the information
Divide students into groups of 6 and explain that their task is to create a short video describing police powers and youth rights with the police. Before they create a storyboard using an app such as Penultimate and film the story, ask students to explore the following website: Police powers and my rights with the Police. Once the videos are completed, share them as a class and choose the most informative presentation.