Centenary State High School

The school

Centenary State High School from the air  
Courtesy Centenary State High School

Centenary State High School began in 1999 in response to community support for a secondary school in the Centenary suburbs of Brisbane. Since this time the school has grown rapidly, and in 2003 has a student population of 1,140 students.

It is a state secondary school and is located in Jindalee in Brisbane's western suburbs. The school started with Years 8, 9 and 11 in 1999 and extended to Years 10 and 12 in 2000. The school offers a range of Authority and non-Authority subjects in the senior school. A unitised vertical curriculum has been developed to meet student needs in the junior school.

Contact details
1 Moolanda Street
Jindalee Queensland 4074
Website: http://www.centenaryshs.eq.edu.au/

Program overview

The unit 'Rights and Wrongs: Indigenous Australians and the Democratic System' is aimed at Level 6 in the Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE) curriculum. The unit outline is based on student inquiry. For continuity and skill development it uses the five-stage inquiry approach adopted for the new trial Modern and Ancient History syllabuses in Queensland. The aspects of this style of inquiry include:

  • defining the scope of the inquiry;
  • examining sources;
  • investigating backgrounds, changes and continuities, motives and causes;
  • examining the major effects, interests and arguments;
  • reflecting.

The project incorporates information and communication technology (ICT) by using CD-ROMs and word-processing software. However, the main ICT focus is the use of a variety of technologies to enable students to develop a multimedia presentation. The unit is designed to cover 21 hours of class time (seven weeks).

Students working on their multimedia project. Courtesy Centenary State High School
Students working on their multimedia project. Courtesy Centenary State High School

In our school the unit is the first Level 6 SOSE unit. It is generally completed by students in the second semester of Year 9. However, as 'Rights and Wrongs' is part of our unitised vertical curriculum it could also be undertaken by younger students accelerating their studies or by older students who need more time to achieve the outcomes of the SOSE curriculum.

The students

In 2003 two classes (a total of 48 students) have trialled the unit. Students in these classes are all taking the standard pathway in SOSE and therefore generally have literacy levels expected of 14-year-olds. There are no students with learning disabilities following this pathway this semester. We will be trialling the unit with a 'catch-up' class of students next semester. The classes undertaking the unit next semester will be undertaking activities linked to the school's literacy program, which is a key project in our school. There are two teachers involved with no teacher aide assistance within the classroom.

Learning needs

The aims of the unit are to:

  • examine the social, economic and political effects of historical events on Indigenous Australians;
  • evaluate Australia's democracy from the perspective of Indigenous Australians;
  • examine the roles of prominent Indigenous Australians in political life and in the wider community;
  • engage students in reflecting on what they have learnt and how this study has influenced their personal development.

The unit focuses on the relationship between Indigenous Australians and the democratic system. The SOSE department plans to embed the Common Curriculum Elements into the curriculum and to achieve this using student inquiry.

The program was designed to address the needs of Level 6 students and to incorporate the key values from the Years 1 to 10 SOSE Syllabus. These values are democratic process, social justice, ecological and economic sustainability and peace. The program was also designed to incorporate the processes of investigating, creating, participating, communicating and reflecting. The Queensland school curriculum is designed to assist students become lifelong learners.

The unit provides opportunities for students to develop in each of the following areas outlined in the syllabus document:

  • a knowledgeable person with deep understanding;
  • a complex thinker;
  • a creative person;
  • an active investigator;
  • an effective communicator;
  • a participant in an interdependent world;
  • a reflective and self-directed learner.

Learning outcomes

The following Level 6 outcomes from the Queensland Years 1 to 10 SOSE Syllabus have been addressed.

Time, Continuity and Change 6.1Students evaluate evidence from the past to demonstrate how such accounts reflect the culture in which they were constructed.
Time, Continuity and Change 6.3Students collaboratively identify the values underlying contributions by diverse individuals and groups in Australian or Asian environments.
Time, Continuity and Change 6.4Students produce a corroborated argument concerning causes of a change or continuity in environments, media or gender roles. (Focus on media.)
Culture and Identity 6.1Students analyse the ways in which various societies inhibit or promote cultural diversity.
Culture and Identity 6.4Students describe instances of cultural change resulting from government legislation or policies that have impacted on cultural groups.
Culture and Identity Discretionary Learning Outcome 6.7Students evaluate a country's response to internal dissent or cultural diversity.
Systems, Resources and Power 6.5Students apply understandings of social justice and democratic process to suggest ways of improving access to economic and political power.

Discovering Democracy resources used

A range of Discovering Democracy resources has been used in the development of this unit. These are:

  • Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Lower Secondary Collection: 'When Law Breaks Down' (The Myall Creek Massacre pp 17–19); 'Unity and Diversity' (White Australia pp 55–6; My Place p 57).
  • Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units Assessment Resources: 'Human Rights' (Rights Denied to Indigenous Australians pp 40–7).
  • Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units: 'Human Rights' pp 47–73 (with special emphasis on 'What is Australia's record on Indigenous people's rights?' pp 67–71).
  • Discovering Democracy Secondary Video: 'Men and Women in Political Life'.
  • Stories of Democracy CD-ROM.

Other resources are listed in the Unit Overview.

The development of the unit

The unit grew out of a desire by Beryl McLachlan and Denise Horton to incorporate more Civics and Citizenship Education into our junior school SOSE program. We had an existing unit written by Debra Mansini that covered some issues relating to Indigenous Australians, but we wanted to incorporate a Discovering Democracy theme or themes into the unit. Beryl, Denise and Janice Cooper developed the concept of the Multimedia Scrapbook as a way to incorporate the contributions of Indigenous Australians into the unit. Beryl developed the new unit outline and then Janice developed the Multimedia Scrapbook activity. She completed all the research and designed the entire Multimedia Scrapbook task. Steve Lippingwell has joined our original team at the conclusion of the project as he is teaching the unit. He has developed the criteria sheet to accompany our multimedia task. Debra has overseen the implementation of the unit and the final presentation of materials for publication.

Prominent Indigenous Australians: Multimedia Scrapbook Student Information Sheet


Formative evaluation is ongoing in the classroom. The major summative piece is the Multimedia Scrapbook. The multimedia activity clearly outlines what the students need to do and a criteria sheet has been developed to accompany this.


As a team we are

very happy with our collaboration and the product developed. Factors contributing to the success of the unit were the support received from the school administration team in providing time for planning, the dedication of the team members and the enthusiasm of the students. The main obstacle we have found is that websites change and need to be checked regularly. This was not, however, a major problem.

Project team leader: Beryl McLachlan
Contributing teachers: Janice Cooper, Denise Horton, Steve Lippingwell, Debra Mansini


Word Documents