Australia as a nation

The Year 6 curriculum moves from colonial Australia to the development of Australia as a nation, particularly after 1900. Students explore the factors that led to Federation and experiences of democracy and citizenship over time. Students understand the significance of Australia’s British heritage, the Westminster system, and other models that influenced the development of Australia’s system of government. Students learn about the way of life of people who migrated to Australia and their contributions to Australia’s economic and social development.
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Macmillan publishers have an excellent series Stories from Australia's History, telling the stories of explorers and famous Australian achievers in graphic novel form. They have proved to be good motivators at this year level.

Why and how did Australia become a nation?
A waltz for Matilda / Jackie French;Pymble, N.S.W. : Angus & Robertson, 2010
Set against drought, flood, bushfire, war and jubilation, this is a story rooted in the words of our most famous national song. It is a love-song to a land and to a nation, told from the points of view of those who had no vote in 1901: the women, the Indigenous people, the Chinese market-gardeners...

Although the story of how twelve-year-old Matilda from the city comes to manage her late father's farm and become very rich is somewhat far-fetched, and although French's use of the song Waltzing Matilda as the thematic continuo for the story is also contrived, the novel is useful because it weaves together many issues that contributed to Federation. The shearers' strike in the 1890s, Australia's experiences in the Boer War, the wool industry and the rise of new technologies, better transport and communications all helped to develop the Australian identity. They play a major part in the story.

The book is probably too long to read to a class from start to finish, but a teacher would find it useful to tell parts of the story and read out extracts as a way of bringing these issues to life.

As usual in her historical novels, French supplies valuable background information in the Afterword, where she explains the origins of the song Waltzing Matilda, the story of Breaker Morant and many other userful things, including the fact that raisins for fruit cake years ago had much larger seeds than they have today!
A Waltz for Matilda - Jackie French
A Waltz for Matilda - Jackie French

Changes in the structures of the nation

How did Australian society change throughout the twentieth century?

The contribution of individuals and groups to the development of Australian society -
Which of these people are Aboriginal? Do you have other suggestions?( Please send me an email to the address supplied in my introduction.)

994.03 DUG – Dugan, Michael, “Boom and Bust: 1919-1939”. Describes the Great Depression.
PF TON – Tonkin, Rachel, “What Was the War Like, Grandma?” Pictures and stories give a good idea of Australian civilian life during World War Two.
994.02 CID – Ciddor, Anna, a series of books of Australian history “Through Children’s Eyes”. The children include Aboriginal children.

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