Discovering Democracy Units
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Focus question 1: Was Australia always organised in states and territories?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Our Australian nation (30 min) ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: A letter from the past (15 min) ESL Activity 2
Activity 3: Colony to Federation timeline (about 30 min) ESL Activity 3
Further activity ESL Further activity

Activity 1: Our Australian nation (30 min)

1a Conduct a whole-class discussion to discover what is known about Australia as a federal nation of states and territories with local, state/territory and Commonwealth governments. Use a wall map or atlases to identify places.

Your discussion should include:

1b Introduce the term 'federation'.

Handout 1

Activity 2: A letter from the past (15 min)

2a Display Handout 1 explaining that this is an adapted copy of a real letter that was published in the Argus newspaper.

Highlight features such as:

  • the old-fashioned language
  • the use of the word 'colony' instead of 'state'
  • the use of the term 'federation'.

If your students have not used letters to the editor before you may need to explain their purpose and style before proceeding.

2b Using the information gathered in Activity 1 ask the students to explain what the letter writer is complaining about. Discuss questions such as:

  • Do you think this is a letter that has been written recently? Why?
  • What actually happened to this man and his wife?
  • Why is he referring to 'colonies' rather than states?
  • Who set the regulations?
  • Why might he be blaming Victoria for this problem rather than South Australia or New South Wales?
  • Do you think this sort of thing would happen today when you crossed the border between South Australia and Victoria? Why?

Activity 3: Colony to Federation timeline (about 30 min)

The timeline below should be prepared and displayed for use throughout the unit.

3a Introduce the timeline. Dates will be added throughout the unit.

3b Locate the events already marked on the timeline: arrival of the First Fleet; Eureka Rebellion; Federation. Add other key dates known to the students as markers.

Handout 2
Colony to Federation timeline

3c Divide the class into six 'colonies' and provide each group with their description cut from Handout 2. (The Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory were not established until after Federation.) Using the information provided each group should:

State borders as they exist today were established in 1861-62.

  • find the date the colony was established, and when it formed its own government
  • write the name of their colony and the dates on two cards and add to the timeline
  • select one person to report back to the class.

Further activity

Stories Students could use the timeline on the Stories of Democracy CD ROM to locate events in Australia's history. They can add information about other events such as the gold rushes (1851), the end of convict transportation to New South Wales (1840), to Tasmania (1852) and to Western Australia (1868) to the class timeline.

ESL activities

Back to 'The People Make a Nation - At a glance'

AcknowledgementsLegal Information