Go to page Content

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

6 — Establishing the context of a life story

False colour satellite image of the surface of the Earth

Above: False colour satellite image of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia, photo by Landsat 7, public domain image, no copyright

In this sequence the focus is on the context of a life story; that is, the setting, history, culture and relationships that place a life story. In Sequence 5, we saw that Kylie Kwong’s life is very much influenced by her family and concerns about sustainability. Our attention in this sequence is on Mervyn Numbagardi’s story and the significance of context.

Activity 1: Helicopter Tracks

The students should watch the short ABC documentary Helicopter Tracks. After viewing the film, ask them what they learnt about:

Lastly, ask them to think about which aspects of life are most significant to Mervyn.


Activity 2: Exploring the context

Tell the students that Alex Smee, the producer of this story, commented that she did some research with local Aboriginal women who know the area well, so in some ways this is a collective story of Mervyn’s people. Then ask them the following questions:

(More information about this film can be found in the article ‘Proper Jilji Country’ and there are more stories in the ABC Open: What’s your story? part of the ABC website.)

Ask the students to go back to ‘People’, the poem studied at the very beginning of Sequence 1, and choose lines that seem to connect to Mervyn’s life story and the value of recording and sharing it. Point out that whether the subject of their life story lives in a high-density urban area or in the bush, it is vital that they establish a context for their readers or viewers.

Photograph of lights emanating from the windows of a high rise building

Above: Building lights at night, photo by Rosie Kerin


Photograph of the Australian desert

Above: Bush at Yuin Station, Western Australia, photo by Phillip Cappa CC-BY-2.0


Activity 3: Assessment task 1 – Analysis of a life story

Return to the details of Assessment task 1 and Assessment task 1 rubric to clarify the requirements of this task.

Note: Assessment task 1 rubric replaces the need for Content Descriptions in this activity.