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Focus question 5: What kind of country do we want Australia to be?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: What do you value? ESL Activity 1
Assessment task ESL Assessment task
Assessment criteria  


In comparison with people from other countries, most Australians have high living standards and experience a very low level of social and political conflict. There is no guarantee, however, that these conditions will continue. A number of events might occur to challenge these certainties. For example, how would Australia's social harmony be challenged if:

  • open-door immigration policies allowed an unrestricted flow of migrants?
  • Australia could not compete in the world economy, so the unemployment rate was more than 20 per cent, and youth unemployment was 45 per cent?
  • argument and debate about Aboriginal reconciliation continued for a further ten years, causing violent racial clashes between Australians?
  • inflation began to rise and the cost of living increased sharply?

Dealing with such issues requires citizens who can identify and explain the democratic principles and values which Australians have held in the past, and hold now so that they may actively transmit these to future generations.

Activity 1: What do you value?

Deciding on what we value is the beginning of agreeing about what kind of nation we want to be.

1a Following is a list developed by a business group, the Business Council of Australia, of 'valued attributes' of Australia. Work through it with your teacher to be sure you know what the items mean.

1b As a class, discuss which of these attributes you think are true at present, and which are less so.

1c Make a list of five things about the country which you personally think should be valued most by all Australians. You can use the Business Council list to help or add ideas of your own.

1d Make tallies of the whole class's views on the board. In two paragraphs write:

  • how similar that list is to your own
  • your views on how important it is that people share the same priorities and values.

1e Which of the 'valued attributes' identified by the Business Council are identified in any of the images of Australia in Focus question 1 and which are not?

What conclusions can you draw about continuation and change in the things people value about Australia?

Courtesy Canberra Tourism
and Events Corporation.

Valued attributes of Australia

Prosperity and sustainable growth

  • a competitive and wealthy economy
  • encouragement of excellence, leadership and initiative
  • social consensus
  • high environmental standards.

Democratic systems and values

  • an accountable parliament
  • the rule of law applies equally to everyone, and everyone has access to the law to resolve conflict
  • secure private property rights
  • individual freedom and responsibility
  • free and well-informed media.

Fair treatment for all citizens

  • equality of opportunity
  • access to education
  • secure employment
  • reward for achievement
  • support for the disadvantaged.


  • control of the political and economic future
  • strong national identity and culture
  • defence/border control
  • international influence as a good citizen in the region.

Adapted from Hook, T & Riley, T 1995, Australia 2010:
Creating the Future Australia, Business Council of
Australia, Melbourne, p 23.

Assessment task

Working in pairs, choose one issue which has been discussed in this unit which you feel is critical to Australia's future.

In three paragraphs outline:

  • what the issue is
  • why you think it is important to Australia's future
  • why people disagree about it.

Interview two people who have different views on your issue and write a summary of their views.

Collect three news cuttings or Internet comments relating to your issues. Write a comment to accompany each about whose views these are, and the point of view they are expressing.

Prepare a short paragraph saying what you think:

  • that the government should do about the issue, and why
  • that your local community should do about the issue
  • that you yourself could do about the issue.

Write two or three paragraphs explaining how the issue relates to Australia's identity as it is now, or how you would like it to be in the future.

Assessment criteria

Your work will be assessed on:

  • the clarity of your account of the issue
  • the quality of your application of ideas covered in this unit to a current event
  • explaining different views about the issue
  • the quality of your explanation of the significance of the event to Australia's future.

ESL activities

Back to 'What Sort of Nation? - At a glance'

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