Lesson Ideas for Teachers

Making multicultural Australia

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KLA/Subject: Drama | English | Geography

Stage: Stage 4

Australian Identity: Who is an Australian?


  • 4.1 responds to and composes texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis
  • 4.3 responds to and composes texts in different technologies
  • 4.7 thinks critically and interpretively about information, ideas and arguments to respond to and compose texts
  • 4.2.3 explores and uses aspects of dramatic forms, performance styles, theatrical conventions and technologies to create dramatic meaning
  • 4.3.2 recognises the function of drama and theatre in reflecting social and cultural aspects of human experience
  • 4.4 demonstrates a sense of place about environments outside Australia
  • 4.5 describes differences in life opportunities throughout the world in terms of social, cultural, economic and physical environments.


This topic starts with a fun introductory activity in which students can learn some facts whilst getting to know their classmates better. A Worksheet provides a focus to extract and summarise material relating to cultural identity.

Video literacy is an important skill in both English and Drama. This lesson uses video excerpts from the Making Multicultural Australia library which are short and lend themselves to be played repeatedly to give the students an opportunity to extract the relevant information. Each video excerpt gives another angle to Australian identity. A Worksheet is provided to support this activity.

This activity is designed for two or more lessons.

Material to Download

Worksheet: Australian Identity - Worksheet

Worksheet: Multicultural Classroom - Worksheet

Geographic Drilldowns: Map of Aboriginal Australia

Archival Images: Dr Helen Irving Collection - Indigenous Dancers at Federation Celebrations, 1901

Videos: Download all the video excerpts from the Making Multicultural Australia library

Suggested Activities

Walk and talk
  1. Explain that the classroom is a small sample of the wider population. Ask students to walk around the room and ask each other the questions on the Worksheet (Multicultural Classroom). If someone satisfies the requirement (i.e. can count to 5 in Japanese) then they write their name down next to that question, and so on. Advise students that they should aim to find a different person for each of the questions.
  2. Discuss the student’s thoughts on what they discovered during the activity.
  3. Discuss the follow-up questions which can be found at the bottom of the Worksheet. Alternatively these questions can be set for homework; students can write a couple of paragraphs in response to each question.

Video Excerpts

  1. Divide students into small groups of about 4, assigning 5 -10 video excerpts to each group.
  2. Ask students to watch the video excerpts in their groups. One student should take notes using the Worksheet (Australian Identity).
  3. Ask each group to provide feedback about their findings on cultural identity.
  4. As a class, discuss with students the major cultural groups in the class or school community. List these groups.
  5. As a class, compare the class or school community with the video excerpts and decide: What is the cultural identity of your class or school community?
  6. Ask students to write a short story, a play or a video about a group of friends with different cultural backgrounds where a boy and a girl from different cultural groups fall in love. In this story, the parents disapprove of the cross-cultural relationship and friends provide advice for the couple.

Preparation Checklist

  1. Download all the video excerpts from the library
  2. Print sufficient copies of both Worksheets for each student
  3. Whiteboard or butcher’s paper is required
  4. The extension activity requires students to have access to computer terminals and/or video-making equipment


Ask students to:
  1. Design a questionnaire to discover the cultural groups in their community and what issues they may be facing. Students should consider questions like:
    • What is your cultural background?
    • Where were you born?
    • Where were your parents born?
    • What cultures do you identify with?
    • Who are your cultural heroes?
    • Are there conflicts between the cultural group and any others in their class or community? If so, what forms do they take?
  2. Make a video or take some photos of a cultural event that the school community is involved in, like a special festival or activity

  3. Compare their class or school community with the wider Australian community – see information at Racism. No Way!
  4. Also see Face the Facts website: How diverse are Australians (section 6)

  5. Survey the main language groups found in their class or school community and learn some basic greetings in each of these languages

  6. Research the original Aboriginal language group that inhabited their area and find out how many Aboriginal people still live there, and if so, how many?

Related Resources

  1. Racism. No Way! Fact sheet: Australia's Cultural Diversity
  2. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Fact sheet: Face the Facts: How diverse are Australians (section 6)
  3. Hage, H. & Couch, R. (eds), 1999, The Future of Australian Multiculturalism, Research Inst. For Humanities and Soc. Sciences, Sydney University
  4. Healey, J., 2000, Multiculturalism Volume 126, Issues in Society, The Spinney Press, Thirroul, NSW
  5. Healey, J., 2000, Australia’s National Identity, Volume 133, Issues in Society, The Spinney Press, Thirroul, NSW

Lesson Notes

Every classroom will have students who know different facts about various cultures and countries, through their own background, reading, television or education.

The issue of cultural identity is one that concerns many young people growing up in Australia, especially when they come from more than one cultural background and when those cultural backgrounds are from languages other than English. As young people are in the process forming their cultural identity when they are growing in a society, these issues may affect them more than adults who may be more secure in their sense of cultural identity. Also in the last few years the dynamics of Australian multiculturalism has become more contested as Reconciliation and the advent of Native Title has positioned Aboriginal people differently, and as conservative governments have introduced greater restrictions on asylum seekers and people they deem as ‘illegal’ immigrants.

Some students will be more sensitive about their backgrounds than others, due to different life experiences and family situations.

Emphasise that it is a positive thing to have a variety of people and backgrounds in the classroom and in Australian society in general.

During the Walk and Talk activity, provide a safe environment where students cannot trip over bags or chairs when moving around the room.

Date Added:

08 December 2004