Australian human rights issues, past and present, including the impact of the stolen generations.
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1. Australian Human Rights Commission. Everyone, everywhere, everyday.

1. Australian Human Rights Commission. Everyone, everywhere, everyday. | Australian human rights issues, past and present, including the impact of the stolen generations. |

"Human rights recognise the inherent value of each person, regardless of background, where we live, what we look like, what we think or what we believe." (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2013a). 


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Established in 1986 after Australia ratified the Human Rights Commission Act, this independent and constitutional organisation reports to the Attorney General, who is currently George Brandis (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2013a).  


The site has many resources to use and is an excellent starting point for defining Australian human rights. Building on students prior knowledge and identifying facts relating to human rights has been shown to be an important starting point to understanding of any topic.


For example, see the child friendly version of the 2013 report into Child Rights. It is a clear and well presented document that engages children by identifying five ideas to make childrens life better in Australia. The document also provides an email address so students can contact the author. 


Download the "Human rights education resources for teachers" pdf from 


This link provides teachers with step by step lessons (1-4) and resources required to teach this topic. Students will learn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and through the plain language version of these rights. 


Next the lesson clarifies the differences between rights and wants, which highlights that not everyone has access to these rights and the lessons naturally lead onto researching more about the topic. 


Lastly this document provides an insight into a relevant and contemporary issue, children living in Australian Immigration Detention Centres. Additional research questions are proposed based on the National Inquiry. 



After providing relevant and engaging human rights issues to the students, they will express their thoughts and feelings to the school and community through various communication modes. E.g. Write a letter to the school principal, have a class, school debate. Correspond with local parents and politicians around issues that are relevant to them. Email the author of the child friendly report regarding one aspect of the child friendly version that the student feels most strongly about or provide some feedback. In doing so this assessment will provide cross-curricular link to literacy:

*    EN3-1A Communicates effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes using increasingly challenging topics, ideas, issues and language forms and features. 

*    EN3-2A Composes, edits and presents well-structured and coherent texts and 

*    EN3-8D Identifies and considers how different viewpoints of their world, including aspects of culture, are represented in texts.



*    "What does the Children's Rights Report 2013 say?" from the human rights website. Click the link below.

*    "Human rights education resources for teachers" from 

*  Channel 7 News report in children's' well-being in detention centres.



Australian Human Rights Commission (2013a). Australian Human Rights: Everyone, Everywhere, Everyday. Retrieved March 30, 2014 from


Australian Human Rights Commission (2013b). Human Rights Education Resources for Teachers. Retrieved March 30, 2014 from

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4. Harmony Day

4. Harmony Day | Australian human rights issues, past and present, including the impact of the stolen generations. |

Australia’s diversity is commemorated on Harmony Day. It recognises the diverse cultures of peoples living in Australia. Acknowledging the traditional owners and everyone who has come to live here. Recognising the fact that Australia has ratified the Human Rights Commission Act of 1986 means that Australians have certain rights enabled of them and that they inturn need to protect these rights for others. Supporting a peaceful and respectful cultural environment is the basis of Harmony Day (Commonwealth of Australia, 2012b).

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This website provides a comprehensive list of lesson ideas, plans and activities. Identifying how this topic can be incorporated into different curricula, such as: English, Languages, Creative Arts, Science, History, Geography, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics and Civics, Citizenship Education and Religious Education. The range of lesson ideas, plans and activities vary as this website is designed to cater to all primary aged school students. Therefore teachers need to be selective, so that their content is age and stage appropriate. The advantage of being able to view such a broad spectrum, is that teachers can differentiate their lessons to include students who are at various stages of ability in the same class. 



Anh's story is a set of learning sequences designed to understand her story, compare and contrast it to their own family and migration patterns, building a classroom museum. The final activity asks students to engage in their local community, recognising the diversity of the Australian community and producing a script for a television advertisement that recognises the diversity. 


The lessons are aligned to the Australian Curriculum and provide specific links to it. For example Anh’s story covers the following areas:

*    curriculum (English, Civics and Citizenship),

*    general capabilities (Literacy, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social capability, Information and communication technology (ICT) capability, Intercultural understanding) and

*    cross-curricular priority (sustainability).


 Reference list:

Commonwealth of Australia (2012b). Harmony Day: Everybody Belongs. Retrieved April 2, 2014 from

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5. Ngarrindjeri People and Environment: past, present and future.

5. Ngarrindjeri People and Environment: past, present and future. | Australian human rights issues, past and present, including the impact of the stolen generations. |

"Ngarrindjeri People and Environment: past, present and future, together with the companion book Ngarrindjeri Dreaming Stories, provides a rich source of historical and cultural information about Ngarrindjeri People and their environment. Whilst aimed at upper primary classes, the information and activities are adaptable for young and old, and will be also of interest to the general public" (Department of Education, Training and Employment, 2001)

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This resource has been developed in close consultation with a wide range of Ngarrindjeri People.


Given the specific nature of this resource to the Ngarrindjeri People it is not logistically possible to ask them to visit any school in Australia. It is however possible to use the exemplar supplied and the suggested assessment to make it relevant to your own local area. It is all highly transferable and that is why it has been included in this selection of resources. 










This is an excellent book highlighting many aspects of the Ngarrindjeri People that are relevant to Australia's human rights and the impact felt ever since 1788. Even though the Ngarrindjeri People are located in South Australia the quality of the resource is transferable to local areas. For example the book recommends that teachers allow at least 6 weeks to allow for planning, highlights cross-curricular understandings (secret/sacred aspects of Aboriginal culture), terminology and a pronunciation guide. Also the first story is about the Neilung, which are fishing birds commonly found around the coast of Australia. Such as Terns, Cormorants, Darters and Purple swamp hens. 


An exemplar for 10 weeks at year 6 has been supplied (Department of Education, Training and Employment, 2001, p.13) and it has the following recommendations:
"* Weeks 1 and 2: Ngurunderi and/or Neilung story and activities.

* Week 3: Historical role and activities.

* Week 4:  Henry Rankine's story and activities.

* Week 5: Camp or excursion to wetland and associated activities with a local Aboriginal person. 

* Weeks 6, 7, & 8: Groups of students each focus on a different Dreaming story(excluding those previously studied) and two life stories each, negotiating activities then presenting information back to class or a younger class. 

* Week 9: Individuals or pairs of students research a topic of interest. 

* Week 10: Celebration of learning with Aboriginal guest, display of student work, action for environment or Reconciliation and evaluation to help with planning for future years. " 



"Tasks should show students understanding of traditional culture, the past 200 years of history and subsequent fracture on and survival of their culture today. Understanding could be shown through a variety of written, spoken, visual art, could make or technological formats. Participation and contribution in small group work can be assessed. "


Who is David Unaipon and where did he come from and why does the church at Raukkan feature on the $50 note? Where is Raukkan? 


Students could visit the Reserve Bank of Australia to explore Aboriginal representation on polymer note. Back at school the students can do a recount  (EN3-2A)  compose and editing a piece of written work. 



Department of Education, Training and Employment (2001). Ngarrindjeri People and Environment: past, present and future. Adelaide: Author

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2. ANTaR Teaching Resources

2. ANTaR Teaching Resources | Australian human rights issues, past and present, including the impact of the stolen generations. |

ANTaR is an independent, national network of organisations and individuals working in support of Justice, Rights and Respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia (ANTaR, 2012).

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For information about the guidelines and protocols for NSW Public schools and TAFE NSW Institutes, click this link



With the vast array of material and resources available on the internet, teachers need to be conscious and aware that some of it is not collaborative with Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Peoples. 


The easiest way to identify collaboration and respect is to look inside the front-cover to see an acknowledgment to that it was collaborated with. Another way to confirm collaboration is whether there is a disclaimer sticker on the front cover advising that images and voices may cause distress to member of the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Communities. With this in mind, ANTaR has been selected as a representative for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Peoples. 



*    Sea of Hands school kit, contains:

                  - Significant dates,

                  - Useful resources, such as

- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures and Histories

- The Stolen Generations, (lesson plans and other links).

                  - Caring for Country:

                                    - Seasonal calendars

                                    - Bush Tucker

 - Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (

                  - Worksheets and lesson plans to support ‘Sea of Hands’.

                  - Links to songs, such as:

 “From little things big things grow” by Paul Kelly & Kev Carmody and

“Treaty” by Yothu Yindi

                  - 12 Canoes

*    FAQs about Constitutional Recognition

                  - Why do we need to change the constitution?

                  - Isn’t it all about symbolism?

- What will change for Aboriginal people on the ground?

- What about the cultural heritage other Australians?

- What are the chances of this referendum succeeding?

- If aboriginal people make special laws for themselves, won’t this give them preferential treatment?

- What does the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander community say?

- Shouldn’t the Commonwealth make laws on need, as opposed to a race?

- How does Australia compared to similar countries?

- How will Constitutional recognition help close the gap?

*    A PowerPoint presentation about the lack of constitutional recognition.



There are many options available. Through a process of inquiry learning and understanding students prior knowledge, teachers and then challenge students concept to a deeper level of understanding. Assessment can be documentation of this journey or process of discovery. Informal assessment opportunities also need to be provided so that students can be assessed on multiple levels. For example through observation of discussions teachers can assess individual students’ and their learning progress.


According to the National Council, students learn best when they organise the information into their own format, reflecting on class lessons and learnings.


For example:

-        Discuss the importance of the apology by the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

-        Discuss the implications of amending the Australian constitution.

-        Write a persuasive letter to your school principal asking if they can contact ANTaR to obtain a ‘campaign kit’. The link below will help.




Reference list:

ANTaR (2012). ANTaR: Teaching Resource. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from


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3. Global Education

3. Global Education | Australian human rights issues, past and present, including the impact of the stolen generations. |

"Global education emphasises the unity and interdependence of human society, developing a sense of self and appreciation of cultural diversity, affirmation of social justice and human rights, as well as building peace and actions for a sustainable future in different times and places "(Commonwealth of Australia, 2012a, parra. 2). 

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* Teaching activities

* Case studies

* Resources

* Facts

* Introduction to cultural identity, diversity and intercultural understanding

* Australian and International Responses



Food of the world

"Students investigate the types and amounts of foods eaten around the world, and the environmental, economic, political and cultural factors that affect access to food. They develop an understanding of why some people in the world have more than enough to eat, while others struggle to have the basics for survival, and explore ways people could work together to achieve food security for all." (Commonwealth of Australia, 2012a)


Through a sequence of six activities 


Australian Curriculum links:

GeographyYear 5

The influence people have on the human characteristics of places and the management of spaces within them (ACHGK029)

Year 6

Differences in the economic, demographic and social characteristics between countries across the world (ACHGK032) 

General capabilitiesLiteracyCritical and creative thinkingPersonal and social capabilityEthical behaviorIntercultural understandingCross-curriculum prioritiesAsia and Australia’s engagement with Asia









Reference list:

Commonwealth of Australia (2012a). Global Education: Teacher Resources to Encourage a Global Perspective Across the Curriculum.Retrieved April 5, 2014 from

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