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KLA/Subject: English | Geography

Stage: Stage 4 | Stage 5

Racism – An introduction


  • 5.2 Analyses, organises and synthesises geographical information
  • 5.3 Selects and uses appropriate written and graphic forms to communicate geographical information
  • 5.7 Explains Australia’s links with other countries and its role in the global community
  • 5.8 Accounts for differences with and between Australian communities
  • 4.2 Uses a range of processes for responding to and composing texts
  • 4.6 Uses and describes language forms and features, and structures of texts appropriate to different purposes, audiences and contexts


This lesson provides an introduction to racism. It begins by examining what the term ‘racism’ means and associated legislation. A cartoon task enables students to creatively depict their idea of what can be done to combat racism at school. This can then provide a springboard into another lesson on legislation, the consequences and extent of racism today. The acrostic poem is another creative medium. A worksheet is included to support classroom activities. Ideas are included for extension activities.

Material to Download

Worksheet: Racism Introduction - Worksheet

Audio Interviews: Race Hatred Legislation

Audio Interviews: Race Hatred Legislation

Audio Interviews: Race Hatred legislation

Audio Interviews: Race Hatred legislation

Audio Interviews: Race Hatred Legislation

Definitions: Relevant defintions from Making Multicultural Australia Hotwords, e.g. race, racism, vilification, genocide

Definitions: Relevant defintions from glossary of Racism. No way! website

Suggested Activities

  1. Ask students to find a definition of ‘racism’ on the Making Multicultural Australia website from the Hotwords section
  2. As a whole class discuss answers to questions on the worksheet 'Racism No way’. Ask students to record answers in their own words.
  3. Play for students, or provide transcripts of, audio interviews on 'Race Hatred Legislation' (see 'Materials to Download'). In groups or as a whole class ask students to explore the content and implications of these interviews.
  4. Using the relevant section of the 'Racism No way' worksheet,ask students to sketch a comic or cartoon strip depicting a problem in the playground and how it can be addressed. Remind students about staff at the school, such as Anti-Racism Contact Officers, who may be available to assist if they experience or see racist behaviour. Reinforce school and Departmental anti-racism policies.
  5. Ask students to use the relevant section of the worksheet, "Racism No way' to create an acrostic poem with meaningful messages and briefly expand on the significance of each word they have chosen.

Preparation Checklist

You will need:

  • to download and copy the worksheet for students
  • to find and print definitions of 'racism' for teacher reference
  • computer access for students, audio capability is desired but not essential. Alternatively, print hardcopies of required materials and copy for students.


Ask students to examine the different types of racism that exist and provide definitions plus examples of when and where each has occurred around the world. For example:

  • Ethnocentricity
  • Ethnic cleansing
  • Genocide
  • Institutional racism
  • Vilification

  • Definitions of these terms are sourced from Macquarie Dictionary, 1992

“Pertaining to or characteristic of race or extraction, or a races or races”
“Pertaining to the relations between people of different races”

“The making of a difference in particular cases, as in favour of or against a person or a thing”

“The belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own group and culture accompanied by a feeling of contempt for other groups and cultures”
Examples of Ethnic Cleansing: Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 1990’s - Serbs towards Bosnians; Darfur, Sudan in early 2000’s - Arab militiamen supported by the Government against civilians from the Fur, Masaalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups

“Extermination of a national or racial group as a planned move”
Examples: Holocaust of 6 million Jews in 1939 – 1945; murder of an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and their Hutu sympathisers in 100 days by Hutu extremists in Rwanda in 1994

“Pertaining to organised societies or to the buildings used for their work”
Examples of institutional racism: ‘White Australia’ policy; forced removal of Indigenous children from their parents from the 1800’s to 1970’s in Australia; apartheid in South Africa; active discrimination against Native Americans and African Americans prior to the Civil Rights movement

“To speak evil of; defame; traduce”
Examples: Writing racist graffiti in a public place; wearing Nazi insignia in a public place; making racist speeches at a public rally; placing racist posters or stickers in a public place; racist abuse in a public place such as shops, workplaces, parks, public transport
For more definitions, see:

Related Resources

Lesson Notes

This issue may be a very sensitive issue to discuss in the classroom depending on students' experiences. Be aware that this topic may affect students in your class in different ways. Guide the discussion so that it remains appropriate and sensitive to all students.

Remind students about staff at the school, such as the Anti-Racism Contact Officer (ARCO), who is their point of contact if they experience or see racist behaviour. Reinforce school and Departmental anti-racism policies that racism.

Date Added:

09 December 2004