We Are Australian: Activity 5: Australians today

Representations of Australians

Consider the following questions with the class:

  • Are representations of Australians through paintings, pictures, media, drama, music and photography accurate reflections of how we see ourselves?
  • Are these views held by all Australians?
  • Whose views are they?

Interpreting paintings

Look closely at the painting 'Australian Beach Pattern' by Charles Meere on page 27 of the Australian Readers.  

Discuss the images depicted and the feelings presented through the painting and how they are one artist's impression of Australia at this time.

Focus questions

  • How are the Australian people represented here?
  • What range of cultural backgrounds can be seen here?
  • Which groups of people are not shown in the painting?
  • Why do you think these were left out by the artist?

Compare this painting with 'The Bathers' by Anne Zahalka on page 29 of the Australian Readers.

  • How are these two pictures different? How are they the same?
  • Does either of these pictures provide an accurate view of what an Australian beach scene would look like today? Why or why not?

Characteristics of the Australian identity

Revisit the class wall mural about the Australian identity. Are there other elements from the last few activities that should be added? Add these new features to the wall mural.

As a class, list on the board 15 - 20 different elements from the wall mural that have been identified to reflect the Australian identity. Ask students to individually select seven elements from the list that they feel express the most important characteristics of the Australian identity.

Arrange students into small groups of about six. Explain that as a group they need to agree upon five of these characteristics. When they report back to the rest of the class about their selection they will also be required to justify why they have chosen these characteristics and left out others.

A whole class discussion could then follow to allow students the extended opportunity to voice their opinions about the selection of these characteristics.

Focus questions

  • Are there characteristics that all or most of the groups identified?
  • Are there some that only a few groups selected? Why was this?
  • Do these characteristics capture what being Australian means to other Australians?
  • From this work, discuss what the class sees as the main values most Australians would believe in.
  • Compare your list with the Recommended Core Civic Values [PDF] of the Australian Citizenship Council.

Reflect upon the identified characteristics of the Australian identity from the previous activity. Ask students to design and make a 'We Are Australian' poster that displays these important characteristics that we share as a nation, as well as the diversity of the Australian people.  

Display these posters in the class or school.

Introduction | Activity 1 | Activity 2 | Activity 3 | Activity 4 | Activity 5