Introduction to literacy in Civics and Citizenship

This section is focused on literacy in Civics and Citizenship.

The information and resources address the reading and viewing, writing, and speaking and listening modes across the Civics and Citizenship curriculum.

Literacy in Civics and Citizenship

Civics and Citizenship supports students to become “active and informed citizens who participate in and sustain Australia’s democracy” (VCAA, n.d.). Being an active and informed citizen includes, among other things, investigating and understanding political and legal systems, and exploring the nature of citizenship, diversity and identity in contemporary society. To do this, students must be able to read and critically listen to a range of texts, as well as to produce written and spoken texts to interact with others and engage in public dialogue and debate.

Literacy in Civics and Citizenship refers to the:

  • literate practices and strategies that enable students to understand, synthesise, analyse and communicate knowledge
  • reading, viewing, writing, speaking and listening practices that students use to access, understand and communicate knowledge
  • understanding of complex terminology.

Literate demands in Civics and Citizenship education   

Literacy strategies enable students to develop their understanding of the role of active and informed citizens in a secular democratic nation with a multicultural and multi-faith society.

Listening, interacting, speaking, understanding texts and creating texts are necessary skills in the development of knowledge and understanding in Civics and Citizenship education.

The literate demands of Civics and Citizenship include:

  • critically analysing information
  • understanding and using technical vocabulary
  • using diverse and multimodal contemporary sources as evidence
  • formulating questions
  • explaining different viewpoints on societal issues
  • arguing an evidence-based position (ACARA, n.d.).

The ability to read and critically analyse multimodal sources, both print and digital, is fundamental. Civics and Citizenship has technical terminology which has a discipline-specific meaning. Students need to understand and use terms relating to:

  • the Australian system of government
    • such as Westminster system, constitution, separation of powers, Senate, and ballot
  • the legal system
    • such as a jury, rule of law and burden of proof
  • abstract concepts terms
    • such as fairness, freedom, equality, inclusion, respect, tolerance and responsibility (VCAA, n.d.).

Using targeted literacy teaching strategies, teachers can support students to:

  • understand and correctly use new vocabulary and terms
  • to identify, analyse, evaluate and explain contemporary issues such as debates over changes to the law, elections and Australian government responses to international events
  • clarify, extend and communicate their developing knowledge of Civics and Citizenship.

Civics and Citizenship texts are complex as they are comprised of multiple genres and are often multimodal in nature. Explicitly teaching students about the textual features of the various genres will help to improve students’ reading, writing and speaking.   

The common genres students will read and write include:

  • procedural (protocols)
  • chronicles (factual/biographical/historical recounts)
  • reports (descriptive, classifying)
  • explanations (sequential, causal), and   
  • persuasive pieces (analytical exposition, discussion and challenge) (ACARA, n.d.).

Literacy in the Victorian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship

Literate practices are embedded in the aims of the Victorian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship. For example, the curriculum aims to ensure students develop:

  • skills necessary to investigate contemporary civics and citizenship issues   
  • responsible participation in Australia’s democracy
  • capacities and dispositions to participate in the civic life of their nation at a local, regional and global level  (VCAA, n.d.).

Across each of the three strands in Civics and Citizenship, students require specific literate practices to:

  • interpret and analyse texts
  • communicate information
  • make judgments, arguments and debates
  • form conclusions
  • make plans for action.

Students also must develop interactive speaking and listening skills to:

  • develop an appreciation of diverse perspectives   
  • express empathy  
  • collaborate and negotiate with others.

Being able to read, view, write, speak about and listen to a variety of texts will enable students to access new information and become more informed and articulate citizens.


Martin, A. (2005). DigEuLit—A European framework for digital literacy: A progress report. Journal of eLiteracy, 2(2), 130–136.

ACARA. (n.d.).  Literacy learning progression Civics and Citizenship. Retrieved from

VCAA. (n.d.). Victorian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship. Retrieved from