Legal Personhood: Lesson 1 Civics and Citizenship, Yr 7

A Person by Any Other Name? Legal Personhood and Animals 

The learning sequence for this activity addresses the question of where other species and entities (such as non-human animals and rivers) ‘fit’ within Australia’s legal system. It begins by examining terms and concepts related to this topic as a result of watching a video exploring the application of legal personhood to non-human animals. Students go on to discuss the ideas in the video before attempting to apply them to their own lives.

Time Allocation 

1 lesson.

Voiceless Resources

Key Inquiry Questions 

  • How are legal terms used to describe an individual’s rights to justice in Australia’s system of law?
  • What principles of justice help to protect human individuals?
  • In what ways does the law protect humans over other species, such as chimpanzees?

Suggested Learning Activities


ACTIVITY 1: Vocabulary check 

Explain the class will be exploring the idea of who and what are considered ‘persons’ under Australian Law.

Before watching the Voiceless video Animals: Property or Persons? introduce students to the following terms:

  1. Autonomous
  2. Captivity
  3. Chimpanzee
  4. Discrimination
  5. Corporation
  6. Habeas corpus
  7. Law
  8. Legal Obligation
  9. Legal Person
  10. Legal Right
  11. Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP)
  12. Property
  13. Self-awareness
  14. Speciesism


Definitions for the terms can be found here.

List the vocabulary terms on the board and ask students if they can contribute any definitions.


As a class, watch the Voiceless video Animals: Property or Persons?


After viewing the video, ask the students to complete the Legal Personhood APE Vocabulary Quizlet for this task.


Ask students to share their experiences with the Quizlet. What terms are they still uncertain about? Have they learnt anything surprising?


Ask students to complete the following task: ‘Write a 100-word response to watching the Voiceless video Animals: Property or Persons? How do you feel about what you learned and what main point(s) did you take away from it?’


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