Activity: Stage 3 Unit 2 - What is it that significant groups and individuals have contributed to Australian society?

Broad focus for an inquiry: Diversity and difference, self and belonging, culture and society.

Image: Download the activity sheet.


Generative questions

  • Who were Australia’s first people?
  • How has Australian society changed over time?
  • What challenges do migrants face arriving in Australia?
  • Who were the people who migrated to Australia? Why did they come?
  • How has migration shaped our identity?

Understandings, skills and values

  • Define immigration, migration and refugees.
  • Identify significant events in the history of migration in 20th and 21st century Australia.
  • Understand the challenges faced by people moving to Australia.
  • Provide examples of individuals and groups who migrated to Australia and their contribution.

Tuning in

Who makes up the population of Australia?

Students reflect on the traditional life of the indigenous population of Australia.

Students look at a variety of data that describes the growth patterns and origin of Australia’s migrant population.

What are the key events in Australia’s history that have contributed to migration?

What factors have contributed to growth in population over 20th and 21st Century?

Further resources for primary and secondary archival materials:

Finding out

What are the experiences of our migrant population?

Students read about the experiences of refugees and migrants to build awareness of the challenges and to develop empathy. Some students may wish to share their own family experiences.

Suggested discussion questions about refugee and migrant stories include:

  • What has happened and why?
  • How might they be feeling?
  • What challenges would they face coming to a new country? (Possible examples include racism, financial hardship, language barriers and stereotypes).

Resources include:

  • Ziba Came on a Boat by Liz Lofthouse and Robert Ingpen (Illustrator)
  • The Little Refugee by Anh and Suzanne Doh.

Sorting out

Stories of immigration

Students work in small groups to research stories about migration to Australia and present their findings to the class. Students may choose to present their research as a short play, PowerPoint presentation, news story or written report.

Going further

Caring for others

A new student from overseas is coming into your class. The teacher has asked you to look after them and show them around. They speak only a little English. Create a plan of things you need to show them and describe how you are going to communicate with them and help them throughout the day.

Concluding and acting


Give students the opportunity to discuss, question and share their ideas. Pose questions to students to generate higher order thinking, such as:

  • How have we benefited from living in a multicultural society?
  • How has migration changed the face of Australia?
  • What challenges face new arrivals to Australia?
  • How can we help them settle in?

This may lead to further research and investigation.

Information for teachers

The following units of work for Stage 3 provide suggested activities to develop students’ understanding of diversity and appreciation of difference using an inquiry-based framework.

Critical thinking is developed as students evaluate and challenge perspectives including negative stereotypes and cultural and social bias. This unit emphasises shared values, belonging, acceptance and tolerance.

Note: Teachers should consider and be sensitive to the needs of specific students when planning these activities.

The subject matter includes:

  • stereotypes and biases of individuals and groups may not always reflect reality
  • values and beliefs influence the decisions and actions of others
  • how Australia has changed over time and how this has contributed to our diverse society
  • how values and attitudes have changed over time
  • exploring commonly held values such as respect, fairness and equality
  • how identity is shaped by many factors such as, family, cultural influences, gender and background.

The units can be used to support the following syllabus areas and suggested outcomes:

  • Personal Development, Health and Physical Education
  • Human Society and its Environment
  • English

GE3-2 Explains interactions and connections between people, places and environments.

HT3-2 Describes and explains different experiences of people living in Australia over time.

HT3-3 Identifies change and continuity and describes the causes and effects of change on Australia.

IRS3.11 Describes roles and responsibilities in developing and maintaining positive relationships.

INS3.3 Acts in ways that enhance the contribution of self and others in a range of cooperative situations.

GDS3.9 Explains and demonstrates strategies for dealing with life changes.

V1 Refers to a sense of their own worth and dignity.

V2 Respects the right of others to hold different values and attitudes from their own.

V3 Enjoys a sense of belonging.

EN3-1A Communicates effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes using increasingly challenging topics, ideas, issues and language forms and features.

EN3-2A Composes, edits and presents well-structured and coherent texts.

EN3-3A Uses an integrated range of skills, strategies and knowledge to read, view and comprehend a wide range of texts in different media and technologies.

EN3-5B Discusses how language is used to achieve a wide range of purposes for a wide range of audiences and contexts.

EN3-11D Identifies and considers how different viewpoints of their world, including aspects of culture, are represented in texts.

Assessment for learning

Establish current student understanding using strategies such as retrieval charts, word banks, mind maps and class discussions.

Assessment as learning

Students will:

  • Write a newspaper report to explain how stereotypes impact on themselves and/or on wider society.
  • Define key terms and give examples of stereotype, migration, migrant, refugee, asylum seeker, racism, gender, diversity and values.
  • Research stories and describe the contribution the migration of individuals and groups has made to Australian society.

Assessment of learning

Students will:

  • Create an advertisement that challenges negative stereotypes and/or biases.
  • Outline a plan to support a new, non-English speaking student or group of students around the school.
  • Write a song, create a picture book, write a story or write a poem that promotes positive values suitable for younger audiences.
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