Lesson 3: Aboriginal Land Rights and Mining

Lesson title: Aboriginal Land Rights and Mining
Unit topic: Aboriginal Land Rights 1972–1990s
Area of study: Aboriginal Issues
Inquiry question: 

What steps took place leading to the recognition of land rights and native title?

Lesson 3 (Word document)

Lesson 3: Student response (htm page)

Outcomes targeted

M5.14 explains the meaning, purpose and context of historical sources in order to deduce their usefulness for the purposes of an inquiry
M5.15 explains different perspectives and historical interpretations about individuals, groups, events and issues


Although this lesson doesn't refer directly to Discovering Democracy material, the conceptual framework for it can be found in the 'Getting Things Done' Franklin Dam Case Study in the Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units, pp 171–202.

Stakeholders are individuals, groups or institutions that have a material interest in an event or issue. Four key stakeholders have been identified for this lesson: Aboriginal community representatives; environmentalist lobby group; mining organisation; Australian Government representatives.

The teacher involved needs to collect a range of sources outlining the viewpoint of each stakeholder group, eg Education Department of South Australia 1990, Aboriginal Land Rights, pp 28–44. These could be copied and placed on cardboard sheets for the students to use.


  1. Introduction:
    Teacher-led review of information on the Wave Hill Strike. The teacher is to explain the concept of stakeholders, using Wave Hill as an example.
  2. Body:
    1. Teacher to divide students into groups for the role-play about proposed mining on Aboriginal land to promote understanding of the role of stakeholders. There will be four groups: Aboriginal community representatives; environmentalist lobby group; mining organisation; and Australian Government representatives.
    2. Each group is given a package of sources to support the point of view of their stakeholder group. Students are given 15 minutes to analyse the sources and come up with arguments to the following: A mining company has proposed the construction of a dam at an important Aboriginal site. They may very well get government approval. What is your response to this? The student response needs to be in line with that of the stakeholder group to which they have been allocated.
    3. Teacher to act as mediator as the various stakeholders discuss their views on the proposed mining operation. Teacher can then insert a variety of situation changes, eg Human remains that could be 30,000 years old have been found at the site – does this change your point of view?
  3. Conclusion:
    Empathy writing
    Students write a response to the following question – from the points of view of two stakeholders (one must be the Aboriginal community representatives):
    'What do you see as a possible solution to this issue?'
  4. Extension/homework:
    Students answer the following question:
    'What role can various stakeholders play in Aboriginal issues?'