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Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

Talk about rights

Traditional owner Vincent Lingiari, holding title deeds to land in one hand and in the other upturned hand accepting soil poured by the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam

Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional landowner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory, 1975. © Commonwealth of Australia. Purchased 1994, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, photograph by Mervyn Bishop.

About this unit:

This unit explores the changes to democratic and citizenship rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since 1900. Students are led into issues through famous Australian speeches. They will explore how authors use language in creative ways to persuade and describe, and how people use written and spoken language to suit social purposes and address particular audiences. More

Duration and sequence pathways:

Each of the 12 learning sequences in the unit will take about 90 minutes of teaching time. The unit itself is intended to run from six to eight weeks. More information.

Resources used:

See a list of resources used in each sequence, plus additional teaching resources.

Unit writer:

Helen Cassidy

Australian Curriculum: English Year Level Year 6

Sequence 1: Framing a historical inquiry

Sequence 2: Whose history?

Sequence 3: Land rights: Great speeches –  part 1

Sequence 4: Petitioning people in power

Sequence 5: From little things big things grow

Sequence 6: The Stolen Generations: Great speeches – part 2

Sequence 7: Why say sorry?

Sequence 8: Building background and cultural knowledge

Sequence 9: What was there to lose?

Sequence 10: Taken away

Sequence 11: The escape

Sequence 12: Sharing what we know

Australian Curriculum: English Year 6

How cross-curriculum priorities relate to this unit

This unit of work, ‘Talk about rights’, is closely connected with the cross-curriculum priority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. The organising idea of Country/Place is evident in Sequences 1 to 5 when land rights are explored, with a focus on the Gurindji people’s struggle of the 1960s and 1970s and in Sequences 6 to 11 when learning about The Stolen Generations. An understanding of Culture is developed in Sequences 3, 8 and 10 when learning about the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. The view of Aboriginal Australia through historical, social and political lenses is examined in Sequences 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 12.

The organising idea of People is evident in Sequence 10 when family and kinship structures are explained at Molly’s birth in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence. Students will read and have read to them contemporary literature written by Aboriginal authors, Kev Carmody in Sequence 5, Archie Roach in Sequence 7 and Doris Pilkington Garimara in Sequences 6 to 12.

Australian Curriculum: English Year 6

How General Capabilities relate to this unit

As students work through this unit they encounter all of the General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum except Numeracy. Literacy underpins all learning sequences. Students comprehend and analyse texts. In Sequences 4, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12 and in the summative assessment task they compose print, visual, multimodal and digital texts. They engage with the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability as they research information in all sequences, learn how to use ICT effectively in Sequence 2 and compose texts using software applications in Sequences 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Students engage in Critical and Creative Thinking as they develop and support arguments in Sequences 10 and 12, and reflect on their thinking and actions in Sequences 6 and 11. They interpret, analyse, evaluate, explain, sequence, reason, compare and question throughout the unit. By working collaboratively in Sequences 1, 4, 6 and 7 students develop social management skills important to the Personal and Social Capability. They are encouraged to demonstrate empathy and appreciate diverse perspectives in Sequences 6 and 11.

Throughout the unit students consider and engage in Ethical Behaviour as they search for proof and evidence in an historical inquiry. In Sequences 2 and 12 they talk about deep questions surrounding dominant voices in history and in Sequence 4 consider ethical questions about access to power. In Sequence 10 they discuss the unjust treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The unit is built on the general capability of Intercultural Understanding and its influence runs through all sequences. 

Curriculum summary for this unit:

Find a summary table for the three strands of Literature, Literacy and Language and sub-strands, with links to elaborations in sequence content.

Rich assessment tasks:

The formative assessment task for this unit will involve students constructing a diagram of events leading up to the Apology to The Stolen Generations while the summative assessment task will require the creation of a speech or petition and a literary text.