Influences on government policy and the media

SubjectNSW Commerce YearStage 5 Curriculum Time200

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Students explore how groups and outside bodies sometimes seek to influence government policies for their own purposes. They learn about media ownership and influence and explore the role of bias, misinformation, disinformation and fake news in influencing and shaping public opinion.

Australian Curriculum or Syllabus

This activity contributes to the following outcomes.

A student:

  • applies consumer, financial, economic, business, legal, political and employment concepts and terminology in a variety of contexts COM5-1
  • analyses key factors affecting decisions COM5-4
  • researches and assesses information using a variety of sources COM5-7
  • explains information using a variety of forms COM5-8
  • works independently and collaboratively to meet individual and collective goals within specified timeframes COM5-9

Related Stage 4 outcomes: COM4-1, COM4-4, COM4-5, COM4-7, COM4-8, COM4-9

Related Life Skills outcomes: COMLS-11, COMLS-12, COMLS-1

Content descriptions

Core 4: Law, Society and Political Involvement

Law reform, political action and decision-making


  • research methods an individual or group has taken to influence politicians and evaluate their effectiveness, for example individual action, actions of lobby groups and political parties and the use of the media (ACHCK062, ACHCK076).

Teacher resources

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Quotes visualiser

Influences on government policy


Why does the media matter in our democracy?


Navigating the media

Student learning resources

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Influences on government policy


The power of the media

Group task

What type of information or news is this?

How to

Writing paragraphs about law, society and political involvement

Other resources you might like

Suggested activity sequence

This sequence is intended as a framework to be modified and adapted by teachers to suit the needs of a class group. The activity was written for students in Stage 5, however it can be modified to suit the needs of Stage 4 students and Life skills students. If you assign this activity to a class, your students will be assigned all student resources on their 'My learning' page. You can also hand-pick the resources students are assigned by selecting individual resources when you add a work item to a class in 'My classes'.

Part A: Exploring how and why outside bodies influence government policy

  1. Pose the question: Why is power important in Australian politics? Explain that, while Australian citizens elect representatives to govern on their behalf, other non-elected individuals and organisations seek to influence government policy for their own advantage.
  2. Elicit students’ prior knowledge about organisations that seek to influence government policy.
  3. Display the quotes visualiser and as a class, discuss its meaning.
  4. Use a grouping strategy to organise the class into teams of 3 or 4 students and allocate each group one of the following to investigate:
    • business association or industry
    • union
    • non-profit organisation.
  5. Give groups adequate time to complete the group investigation.
  6. Explain to students that they will evaluate each group’s presentation. Talk about the process of peer evaluation and develop agreed criteria for evaluation. Possible questions include: 
    Did the presentation:
    • identify the organisation seeking to influence government policy
    • identify the government policy the organisation seeks to influence
    • adequately explain the strategies used by the organisation to seek influence
    • cite the sources of information used in the presentation
    • state why the sourced information is valid and relevant?

Part B: Exploring media ownership and influence

  1. Display and explain the information on Why does the media matter in our democracy – Visualiser.
  2. Think-pair-share the following proposition: Owning or controlling a media outlet or corporation can be immensely powerful.
  3. As a class read through the investigation.
  4. Students complete the investigation.

Part C: Bias, misinformation, disinformation and fake news

  1. Use slide 2 of Navigating the media – Visualiser to explain the difference between bias, misinformation, disinformation and fake news.
  2. As a class discuss if students have retweeted a tweet or re-posted an article and if so, why.
  3. Display and explain slides 2 and 3 of the visualiser.
  4. Use a grouping strategy to organise students into groups of 4.
  5. Groups complete the group task.
  6. Invite groups to share their responses.
    Note: you might find the placemat strategy useful for promoting group discussion and consensus.
  7. Students write and evidence-based paragraph or 2 explaining how the media shapes identity and influences attitudes to diversity.

Refer students to Writing paragraphs about law, society and political involvement – Model.