First day

[Episode 3 | 1988 : Lily]

Lily is taking her cousin, Phoung, to her school with her for the first time. Lily and her friends believe that Phoung can't speak English and they discuss what it means to be Australian.


The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [3]

Activity 1: Boat people
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Subtheme(s): Multiculturalism; Politics; Social order and education
  • Discuss the stigma attached to being regarded as 'boat people' in Australia. Lily's teacher states that all Australians were 'boat people' at some time. Talk about the status of refugees who try to come to Australia illegally by boat. Are they treated well or not? Why?
  • Australia is viewed by many overseas people as the 'lucky country' and many immigrants come here to find work and a better standard of living for their families.
  • Ask students to research groups that make up Australia's multicultural diversity and use a timeline to plot when they arrived. They should list 8–10 ethnic groups and their immigration milestones in Australia since 1788. The timeline can be presented electronically or as a poster. The following websites are helpful resources for students to use:
  1. Museum Victoria, 'Origins',
  2. SBS,
  3. National Archives of Australia,
  4. ASA Group,
  5. Migration Heritage Centre,
  6. Australian Human Rights Commission,
  7. Wikipedia, 'Immigration history of Australia',
  8. Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 'Fact Sheet 4 –More than 60 years of Post-war Migration',

  • Phoung describes the terror of travelling to Australia as a 'boat person'. She tells a story about being attacked by pirates and pretending to be on a fisherman's boat. Ask the class to find other personal recounts of being attacked by pirates. They can use these accounts as the basis of a front-page newspaper report on the incident. The report should have a heading, body text, accompanying illustrations, maps or images, and picture titles.


Activity 2: Border protection
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Subtheme(s): Multiculturalism; Politics; Social order and education
  • On Student Activity Sheet H3.8 you will find an excerpt from the Australian Government's Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 'Fact Sheet 75 – Processing Unlawful Boat Arrivals', found at
  • Ask students to gather current information on boat arrivals and refugees seeking resident status in Australia.

  • Divide students within the class into six groups. Each group should select one of Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats and construct a response to the topic below:

    How does the Australian Government respond to illegal 'boat people' and official refugees? How popular is this policy in the Australian community? Include information on whether Australia has ever closed its borders to refugees and why.
  • Students could use the de Bono Thinking Hats to respond to the topic as follows:
  1. Questions (white)
    Use only the information available. What are the facts?
  2. Emotions (red)
    Provide a gut reaction or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification).
  3. Bad points judgement (black)
    Apply logic to identifying flaws or barriers; seek mismatch.
  4. Good points (yellow)
    Apply logic to identify benefits; seek harmony.
  5. Creativity (green)
    Provide statements of provocation and investigation. See where a thought goes.
  6. Thinking (blue)
    Think about thinking.
  • Each group responds with a series of points supporting their Thinking Hat answer and then shares their views with the class.


Activity 3: Being Australian
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Language and scripting
  • Ask the class to consider what it means to be Australian. Ask students to nominate characteristics about Australians that are different and recognisable by people overseas. List these characteristics on a fact sheet. One of these aspects should be language.
  • View the whole episode again and listen for Australian slang terms used by the characters in everyday speech. List these on the fact sheet.

  • Ask students to form small groups and give them a section of the alphabet, for example, A–E, F–J, K–P, Q–T, U–Z. Students should find Australian slang terms that start with letters from their alphabet group. They should find as many words and phrases and their meanings as they can. Once the groups have at least five each, collate them in a class dictionary, which can be added to for each episode. Students can illustrate some words to create deeper meaning.


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