Lesson Ideas for Teachers

Making multicultural Australia

Search the complete site: ... Sitemap » ... Links to other sites »

multicultural Lesson Ideas »

KLA/Subject: English | Geography | History

Stage: Stage 5

White Australia - Then and Now


  • 5.1 Explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impacts on Australian life
  • 5.2 Assesses the impact of international events and relationships on Australian history
  • 5.3 Explains the changing rights and freedoms of Aboriginal peoples and other groups in Australia
  • 5.8 Accounts for differences with and between Australian communities
  • 5.1 Responds to and composes increasingly sophisticated and sustained texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis and pleasure
  • 5.10 Questions, challenges and evaluates cultural assumptions in texts and their effects on meaning


The White Australia policy played an important role in the shaping of Australian demographics through racist means. This policy was slowly abolished by successive governments and now we have one of the most multicultural societies on earth, one motivation being to boost our population. However, every now and then, political groups both in Australia and overseas attempt to revive the ‘whites only’ notion of society.

This lesson uses Making Multicultural Australia resources to examine these concepts, and also aims to improve literacy and comprehension skills.

Worksheets are included to support classroom activities.

Material to Download

Worksheet: White Australia - Worksheet

Suggested Activities

  1. Download and distribute to students the worksheet 'White Australia'. Ask students to read the 15 statements on page 1 of the worksheet and answer true or false in the column with the heading ‘Before Reading’. Advise the class that they are reading to assess what they understand now and that there will be the opportunity to research the questions later in the lesson. Students will need to use their knowledge to respond to the questions that are familiar with and they will need to guess answers to the others.

  2. Ask students listen to or read text of each resource found on the Making Multicultural Australia timeline ‘Forming a racially pure democracy...'

  3. After listening/reading, ask students re-read the same 15 statements from the previously distributed 'White Australia' worksheet in the column and this time record their answers in the column headed ‘After Reading’. Ask students to then compare their two sets of answers.

  4. Ask students to complete the page 2 of the worksheet 'White Australia'. Refer students to the websites listed in the 'Related Resources' section below. You could also suggest that students use Google or another search engine to find answers.

  5. Discuss answers as a class. Questions 5-8 of the worksheet are particularly useful as discussion questions. Answers to these questions may be discussed individually or collectively in broader terms. Possible discussion points include:

    • Australia has a declining birth rate. Should immigration should be used as a solution to this problem?
    • What are “Australia’s cultural values”.
    • How would one demonstrate “embracing Australia’s cultural values”?
    • Are there Australians who also embrace the language and traditions of another culture? Is there a conflict with Australia’s cultural values in these circumstances?
    • Must everyone be the same and should people from different cultural groups be allowed to embrace and develop traditions and languages from their country of birth if this was not Australia?
    • Which aspects of Australian culture should immigrants conform to? In this context consider:
      • The use of a language and literacy test?
      • Who should conduct it?
      • Is such a test discriminatory?
      • Is such a test outdated?
      • Should all people participate in Australia Day activities? Easter celebrations? Other events?

Preparation Checklist

You will need:

  • to download and copy the worksheet 'White Australia' for each student.
  • computer access for individual student use or small groups; audio capability is desired but not essential. Alternatively, print and copy text from each resource on page 1 of the Timeline ‘Forming a racially pure democracy...'


Discuss as a class:

What may have been the psychological effects of the White Australia Policy on Australians and also on those people discriminated against on the basis of skin colour?

Related Resources

Lesson Notes

Teachers need to be sensitive to experiences within students' families or communities that may have been influenced by the White Australia policies.

Answers to page 1 of the 'White Australia' worksheet
1. True
2. True
3. True
4. False
5. True
6. False
7. True
8. False
9. False
10. True
11. False
12. True
13. False
14. False
15. True

Answers to page 2 of the 'White Australia' worksheet
1. Harold Holt
2. 25 years
3. March 1966
4. Increased the number and percentage of migrants from countries outside of Europe
5 -8. There are no right answers. These questions should be used as the basis of class discussion.

Date Added:

10 December 2004