Decide: Students choose a community issue they care about and form groups. Research

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Partner Up—Unit Overview

The aim of this integrated unit is to guide students to form a community partnership and take action on an issue they care about. It is for Senior VCAL students of Personal Development Skills, Unit 2, and Literacy Skills.

Unit sequence

Students choose a community issue they care about and form groups.

Students research the issue and potential partnership organisations through rich media and face-to- face fieldwork in the community. The groups contact a local decision-maker for assistance (option: students invite them as guest speaker).

Student groups propose community partnerships and then conduct meetings, plan for action and run media campaigns to raise awareness. They take practical action in the community.


Students evaluate their power within the community via an ‘election speech’ video diary. They run an election and perform a preferential vote count (option: VEC incursion). They are encouraged to apply their new skills and host a VCAL celebration night for community members.

Time-poor teachers may omit activities. You can determine which to omit by checking each activity’s ‘Purpose’ and ‘VCAL curriculum’ headings when commencing a new teacher guide.


See Quality Assurance templates (pages 4–15) for full details of competencies students demonstrate when completing this unit.

Unit title










Literacy Skills






Personal Development Skills



Teacher’s role

The student workbooks have two aims: to require students to be responsible for their evidence, and to reduce administrative tasks for teachers.

You do not need to create, complete and keep multiple checklists of outcomes and elements, only to later translate them into the school report system. Instead, simply follow the instructions in the teacher guide. At the end of the unit, teachers can collect workbooks and Portfolios to review and confirm the competencies students have demonstrated and evidenced.

Where a camera icon appears, students require a photo of participation. Nominate at least one student to take a photo (or video) of the class doing the activity. That student is responsible for sharing the photo/video with all class members present.

Student’s role

Students are guided to independently source, record, keep and confirm their evidence of competency. To achieve this, they follow the instructions when this hand icon appears in the student workbook.

Students are also prompted to seek confirmation (via teacher’s notation) of competencies observed.

Assessment instructions allow a space for students to write the photographer’s name. It is then individual students’ responsibility to acquire and record this evidence of participation. Carefully explain this process to students during Activity 1.1, Decide, which is the first time the icon appears.

Partner Up student workbooks

Workbooks include each activity’s purpose and steps, all necessary activity sheets , activity guides (such as lists for web research sources and community groups), assessment instructions and direct links to online videos and interactivities. If verbal instructions are missed, teachers can refer students to workbooks. They support self-directed learning and collection of evidence. Every student needs a workbook, and teachers may request free printed sets from the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC).

Partner Up—Unit Overview

Decide | Research | Activate | Vote

Learning style

Every step in the unit sequence is supported by learning activities.

Activities are designed specifically for students who prefer learning through movement, hands-on activities and video resources. Time listed for activities is approximate only. It will vary between cohorts.

The VEC’s vision is of all Victorians actively participating in their democracy. Our Passport to Democracy program involves students in active citizenship learning. Students choose, research and take action on community issues, before reflecting on the changes achieved, including their own skills and knowledge. Through this sequence, young Victorians exercise democratic rights and responsibilities in a practical manner. They become empowered as influential and informed community members. The Passport to Democracy’s teacher resources include free curriculum-aligned units, lesson plans, assessment, physical election materials and incursions.

Contact Us

Questions? Contact the VEC’s Community Education team:


© State of Victoria (Victorian Electoral Commission) 2016
The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) encourages the dissemination and re-use of information provided on this website. The VEC owns the copyright in all material produced in this unit, except for content attributed to third parties.

All material provided in this unit is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international license, with the exception of the VEC logo and content supplied by third parties.

The license conditions are available at
In some cases, a third party may hold copyright in material presented on this website. Their permission may be required to use the material.

Research—Teacher guide

Partner Up - VCAL integrated unit - Passport to Democracy Decide | Research | Activate | Vote

Activity 2.2: Background research (online) 60+ min


    • Students will find, collect and analyse information about their issue.

    • Students will expand their understanding of the general/likely causes, effects and people affected.

VCAL Learning Outcomes (LO):

This activity allows students to provide evidence of:

    • PDS LO 1.1—identify range of appropriate methods for researching issues

    • PDS LO 1.2—critically analyse an issue

    • PDS LO 1.3—research support groups.

Level of teacher support:

Photocopy and provide resources.


  • laptops with internet access

  • (optional) printer

  • activity sheets/guides (below)

The activity sheets in students’ workbooks are templates designed to collect students’ research findings.
For the templates to assist, students’ issues must be expressed as problems (e.g. ‘boredom’) rather than solutions (e.g. ‘more skate parks’).


    • Ask students to complete background research on their group’s issue, by following the steps in the student workbooks. The handouts you distribute will help them fill in the activity sheets (in student workbooks).

Activity sheets in student workbooks:

group 131 group 127 group 123 group 117

    • Causes of

  • People affected by

    • Effects of

    • Support groups for

group 114 group 111

Video and web research

Find documentaries, photos, cartoons, interviews, news footage and personal stories!

Where do I look? page on the Passport to Democracy website

  • I have read the research tips on this page


ABC websites

  • ABC news24

ABC TV and iView


Australian Story

Behind the News
Foreign Correspondent
Four Corners


  • Hack

  • The Drum

  • Fact Check

group 107
group 103

Other handy resources

The Local Leader The Herald Sun The Age

The Australian

The Saturday Paper

  • Oxfam Australia

  • Amnesty International

group 99

ABC websites

  • Dateline

  • Living Black

  • Insight

  • The Feed

  • NITV

  • Powerof1

  • Census Explorer

group 95

Other handy resources

  • Sunday Night

  • A Current Affair

  • The Project

  • The Onion

  • GetUp

  • Choice

  • Last Week Tonight

group 91



search term” –term you wish to exclude


The results will exclude any articles that are related to water pollution

search term: site


This will look for the term ’water’ on a particular website

Google news

e.g. water pollution
Use this function to look up any news article related to your issue


* only when using ‘news’ search

water pollution location:Australia

This will return all newspaper articles that are published in Australia and are related to water pollution


* only when using ‘news’ search

Election source:the age

This will return all articles published in the Age newspaper that contain the word ‘election’ in it

allintitle: title words

allintitle: industry pollution CO2

This search function will return documents that contain words ‘industry’, ‘pollution’ and ‘CO2’ in its title

text search term intitle:title search term

Industry pollution intitle:CO2

This search will return all articles that contain words ‘industry’ and ‘pollution’ in the body of the text and the words ‘CO2’ in its title

@ symbol

Example: @waterpollution
To find social tags

# symbol

Example: #pollution
To find popular hashtags from trending topics

_ symbol (underscore)

Connects two words like water_pollution. Search results will find this pair of words linked together (waterpollution) or connected by an underscore (water_score)


[filetype: pdf]
Will return files of the extension you specify. For example: [filetype: pdf] or [filetype:.pdf]

Local councils

Which one is yours?

Find out about your local council:

Support groups list, 1 per student

Support groups list

  • Local Councils:

  • Safe and secure home: The Big Issue, The Salvation Army; The Department of Social Services; Lighthouse Foundation; Berry Street; MacKillop Family Services; Launch Housing; Hanover Welfare Services

  • Mental health: Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute; The Butterfly Foundation; Lifeline; Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria; Grow; Phoenix Australia; dNet;

  • Youth: Youth Affairs Council Victoria; Youth Central; Youth Support and Advocacy Service; Kids Help Line; Reach; Doxa; Youth Projects; YMCA; Young People’s Health Service; Youth Connect; search ‘youth services’ and your local area—you might find some interesting groups and organisations you didn’t know about.

  • Rural: Country Education Partnership — Rural Youth Ambassadors

  • LBGTI+: Open Doors Youth Service; Safe Schools Coalition;

  • People with different abilities and communication styles: Amaze (formerly Autism Victoria); Asperger’s Victoria; Australian Human Rights Commission — Disability Rights; National Disability Services; Guide Dogs Victoria; Scope

  • Illness: Diabetes Victoria; Multiple Scleroris Limited; Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

  • Food: Second Bite; Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation; FoodBank

  • Education: Embrace Education
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices: Koorie Heritage Trust; Koori Mail; Indigenous Leadership Network Victoria; VIYAC; Reconciliation Australia; The Koori Business Network

  • Environment: Australian Platypus Conservancy; Bush Heritage Australia; Centre for Sustainability Leadership; Conservation Volunteers Australia; The Wilderness Society

  • Humanitarian: Red Cross, Save the Children

  • Violence against women: Project Respect; White Ribbon; Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand; Council of Single Mothers and Their Children; Reclaim the Night; Bethany

  • Multicultural: Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES); Centre for Multicultural Youth; Embrace Diversity; Victorian Multicultural Commission; Various multicultural community groups: search for ‘[cultural name] + association or league’

  • Child safety: National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN)

  • Carers: Carers Victoria; Benatas; CareSearch

  • Community safety: Country Fire Association; Victoria Legal Aid; Victoria Police; State Emergency Services; Victoria Law

  • Health: The Equality Trust; The Institute of Health Equity; World Health Organisation

  • Refugees: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre; Rural Australians For Refugees; Refugee Council of Australia; Foundation House

  • Addiction: Family Drug Support; Drinkwise; Quit Victoria; Gambler’s Help (Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation)

  • Local services and groups: Search ‘community organisation support’ and your local area — you will find more local results than we can list here!

Research–Partner up

(from student workbook)

Decide | Research | Activate | Vote

Background research

Why are you doing this?

      • To research background information about your group’s issue.



  1. Look at the activity guides from

your teacher.

Important: They say where and how to find information.

  1. Type the issue and/or keywords into the websites’ search boxes.

  2. View and read relevant parts of the:

            • documentaries

            • photos

            • cartoons

            • interviews

            • news footage

            • personal stories.

    • Put information into:

Causes of ,
People affected by ,
Effects of and

Support groups for .

  1. Do the same for at least 6 sources/ websites.

Hint: Record where you found information. Why? For further research, and to follow copyright laws.


Critically analyse issues

LO 1.2

Research potential support or community groups that are relevant to your group’s issue

LO 1.3

I have …

My evidence is …

  • critically researched the issue

  • Causes of
  • People affected by

  • Effects of

  • In my Portfolio (for any extra research)

  • found potential support groups

  • Support groups for

Causes of

People affected by

Effects of

Support groups for

Use your own knowledge or the ‘Support groups list’ activity guide and choose three!

Local Council

Name (find out on

Organisation type: government

Is there a local office? yes/no

Address (find out on the Council/Shire website):

My Local Councillor/Mayor:



What are their responsibilities (find out via

How can they help?

Logo and name:

How do they help?

Organisation type (circle one):

not-for-profit government private business social enterprise
Is there a local office? yes/no

Logo and name:

How do they help?

Organisation type (circle one):

not-for-profit government private business social enterprise
Is there a local office? yes/no

Logo and name:

How do they help?

Organisation type (circle one):

not-for-profit government private business social enterprise
Is there a local office? yes/no

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