Glossary (Version 8.4)

The Cabinet consists of the most senior ministers, including the Prime Minister. The Cabinet's role is to make major policy decisions, including decisions about spending, appointments and introducing legislation.

A person who holds citizenship of a polity, such as a country, and who is a member of a political community that grants certain rights and privileges to its citizens, and in return expects them to act responsibly such as to obey their country's laws. Also see global citizens.

A legal status granted by birth or naturalisation to citizens involving certain rights (for example, protection; passport; voting) and responsibilities (for example, obey the law, vote, defend the country). A modern sense incorporates three components: civil (rights and responsibilities); political (participation and representation); and social (social virtues and community involvement).

A participation one has within a community or communities as distinct from private and family life.

A identifiable body of knowledge, skills and understandings relating to the organisation and working of society. It refers to a nation’s political and social heritage, democratic processes, government, public administration and legal system.

A non-government organisation (NGO) in public life, which expresses interests and values of its members. NGOs or civil society organisations are considered important to sustaining healthy democracies as they build social capital.

‘Civil society’ is also frequently used to refer to a society where civility is common in citizen behaviour and public discourse.

Habits of people that display courtesy, politeness and formal regard for others. These behaviours contribute to society’s effective functioning.

A term that is popularly understood as sharing of resources among a community for the benefit of that community as a whole. The common good is often seen as a utilitarian ideal representing the greatest possible good for the greatest possible number of individuals as opposed to the private good for individuals or sections of society.

A body of English law traditionally based on custom and court decisions. Also known as case law or precedent, it is law developed by judges through decisions of earlier courts and an understanding of current context. Also see statute (statutory law).

A set of fundamental principles on which a state or other organisation (such as a club) is governed. Usually, this takes the form of a written legal document setting out specific powers for a government or governing of that entity.

A form of monarchy in which a monarch acts as a country’s head of state according to law as required by the constitution and that in exercising his or her discretionary powers, the monarch as head of state acts on advice of responsible ministers, excluding exceptional circumstances.

Unwritten rules of political procedure based on traditional, established practices that are widely accepted. Australia’s political system has adopted many of the unwritten conventions of the British Westminster system. Conventions may defy the Constitution; for example, the procedure for the appointment of Australia’s Governor-General.

Acknowledged behaviour by individuals and groups, which recognise benefits of behaving in accordance with other individuals' expectations and customs. In the Australian Curriculum, this refers to the customary law of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples; however, in Australia, customary law is subject to constitutional and common law. Also see common law and statute (statutory law).