One Country, Many Cultures
Level 2 History/Geography Focus

Introduction to One Country, Many Cultures

In this activity students focus on the changing cultural, linguistic and religious makeup of Australia's population, exploring the reasons for and consequences of this change.

All activities in this module are aligned to the Australian Curriculum: History and Geography, Years 5 and 6.  (Click here to see the Curriculum Links

The module focuses on developing intercultural understanding through the following learning objectives.  Students will:

This guide provides information about the four activities in this module:

These activities are complementary but can also be used independently.  Each activity is supported with suggested teacher-led introductory and concluding activities.  For the online components students can work individually, in pairs or as small groups.  These activities can also be adapted for use with a smartboard.

Activity 1: Leaving Home

This activity engages students in considering the experience of migration.  They compare the experience across time and consider the objects, skills, memories and hopes that migrants may bring with them.

Introductory Activity — Offline

As a class, brainstorm a list of the things that migrants, moving from one country or place to another, might pack.  Challenge students to go beyond physical things and to consider things such as emotions, skills, languages, and recipes.

Online Activity

Before commencing this activity, familiarise your students with how to navigate through the website.

Part A: What they packed
In this part of the activity students explore the physical things what migrants have brought with them when coming to Australia.  Students analyse a list of objects for three different migrants from different historical time periods, and write about the similarities and differences.

Students also explore a primary source document from an early migrant and write about the experiences migration.

Part B: What would you pack?
Students are asked to imagine they are leaving Australia permanently and complete a short questionnaire where they identify the hopes, fears and memories they would take with them.  If appropriate, students can complete this part of the activity online and print out their responses.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Ask students to identify a migration story that relates to their life: this could be their own journey or that of a distant ancestor or significant family acquaintance.  It could be an international or domestic migration story.  Challenge students to identify one object, skill, language, recipe, or belief that came into their family as a result of that migration.

Activity 2: Connection to Country

This activity explores the connection to traditional country for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Introduce this activity by giving an Acknowledgement of Country for your students.  You may like to use this version from the 'Dare to lead' program:

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and pay our respects to the elders both past, present and future for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia.  We must always remember that under the concrete and asphalt this land is, was and always will be traditional Aboriginal land.
Lead a discussion with students about why we might acknowledge country.

You may like to take this activity further by involving your students in developing their own Acknowledgment of Country for your class.

Online Activity

Part A: My country
Students watch a short video where two Aboriginal people discuss their connections to country.  They also explore an interactive version of the Aboriginal Indigenous Language Map (via a link to the ABC website) and identify the group that has connections to the area where your school is located.

Students conclude this activity by considering the push/pull factors that may influence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's decisions about living in traditional areas or not.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Ask a member of the local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community to come and talk to students about their country and what it means to them.  Before the guest arrives you may like to use the Developing Interviewing Skills activity.

Students can also identify a place that has ongoing significance to them, for example, a camping spot, distant city or family farm.  Ask students to create an artwork depicting their special place.

Activity 3: Experiences of Migration

In this activity students use historical sources to investigate migration to Australia during the last 250 years.  They consider why migrants have come, how they have been treated and what they have contributed to Australia.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Ask students to imagine a history where there had been no migrants to Australia during the last 250 years.  Working as a class or in small groups, ask students to make lists of ways Australia would be the same if there had been no migrants during this time, and ways that it would be different.  You may like to use the T Chart template.

Online Activity

Part A: Explore the clues
Students explore a selection of primary sources to reflect three main ideas:

They explore up to six sources related to each question and write a response at the end of each investigation.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Ask your students to revisit the questions they have just explored with a focus on your local community, remembering, every Australian community has a rich migrant heritage if you look back over 250 years.  Ask students to research, conduct interviews or look around them for inspiration in answering the questions:


Activity 4: What's Australian?

Introductory Activity — Offline

Introduce the concept of word association by getting students to write down the first word that they think of when they hear each of the following words:

Quickly share the students' responses to show how different people's ideas can be.  Were there some words where responses were more similar than others (e.g. homework)?  Ask students why, to establish that understanding of words is influenced by personal experience and cultural identity.

Explain to students that in this activity they will be exploring the word 'Australian' and the many things that it can mean.

Online Activity

Part A: How Australian is that?
Students rate a selection of images to identify how 'Australian' they think it is.  The images vary from 'typically' Australian to globally recognisable.

After submitting each rating, and regardless of what rating they have given, students are shown text explaining the significance of the object or image to the Australian context.

This activity aims to raise awareness and provoke discussion about notions of what it means to be Australian.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Conduct a class discussion about what the word 'Australian' means.  As the students contribute ideas, challenge them to think about why they might describe one object (or person) as more 'Australian' than another.  Is there any justification for excluding new cultural practices or new Australians?

Module Reflection

You may like to use a reflection or self-assessment strategy to monitor student engagement with this module.

Further Activity Ideas