National Days: Review existing information

The next step is to examine 4 national days in greater detail. These are the days that are commemorated around the country (though strangely, not on the same day in some cases) but are not connected with religion. (As an extension activity later on, you might like to research a day that is special in only one part of Australia, such as Foundation Day in Western Australia, or one of the religious holidays, such as Christmas).

Activity 1 A)  Collect data and information

You will be collecting and recording the following information about each day:-

  • dates/dates Australians mark this day
  • the history of why the day is important
  • the activities that take place
  • the types of people who are involved

If your teacher does not feel you will have time to collect all the information yourself, you might be able to work in a pair or group of 4. Each student could research 1 or 2 days, and share the findings with the others.

Print out 4 copies of Figure 2, the Information WallEach time you find a piece of information from the list above, write it down on 1 brick in the wall. Print extra copies if you run out of bricks, but keep each day separate from the others. This will be very useful as a data base for other activities.

Here is a list of sites where you will find the kind of information you need:


Anzac Day

Queen’s Birthday

Australia Day

National Australia Day Council

Activity 2 A) Collect data and information

Our main national days in Australia are commemorated in very different ways, and the level of involvement in them is not always the same. Anzac Day in Australia is an example of a day which is widely understood and which involves large crowds of Australians of all ages.

Go to  and read about a group from Mackay High School, who were greatly affected by their involvement with Anzac Day activities. There is also a link on the page to the high school’s own site, which will give you even more information.

Then go to and watch as much of the 3 videos as you have time for. While you are watching, think about what the experience would have been like for those students and their teacher.

Activity 2 B) Analyse data and information

Use a “Y” chart to sort out how you think the students and teacher from Mackay High school felt on their trip. An example of the chart is available in Figure 3.

Anzac Day, for those people, will never be the same again. It will obviously have very deep meaning for them from now on. Is there a national day which has particular meaning for you and your family?  Have you been involved with any of the activities you read about in your research? Describe what the day is like for you on another “Y” chart.

Activity 3 A)   Collect data and information

The observation of national days can change over time. Sometimes a day seems to lose its meaning and importance, and people no longer commemorate it. Empire Day is an example of this. Many people in Australia today, particularly young people, would not even have heard of it. The opposite can also happen, when a day seems to grow in importance, and young people really become involved in it.

In a previous section, you collected information on the kinds of activities that take place today in connection with national days. Let’s collect slightly different information on how these activities have changed, and become more or less important to Australians.

For a very quick impression of which days seem to be important, look at the numbers in      

the table in Figure 4  “National Days – figures and information”. You need to understand that some of the items should not really be counted, because when you type in a search word it can bring up all sorts of other things as well as what you actually want. Search engines such as Google Images also include international pictures. It does, though, give you a very rough idea of how much attention each day seems to be getting. Which ones score the highest (marked in red)? Which ones are the lowest scorers (marked in blue)?

For a more detailed study, look at one of the Australian national picture collections. Go to  . Type each day into the search bar and see what comes up. Have a look at the pictures shown (when there is a very large amount of pictures, choose a few pages to look through). In an interview at one man talks about his memories of what “Cracker Night” used to be like. (The Queen’s Birthday was another time which sometimes featured crackers and bonfires, after November 5th was found to be too risky for fires.)

Activity 3 B)    Analyse data and information

Choose one of the days and use a Venn diagram to record your impressions of how it has changed. 

Activity 4 A) Collect data and information

Think about what you have discovered so far, and consider which national days seem to be very important to most Australians. Think about what differences of opinion there could be about the commemoration of these days. Read the items in Figure 5 for some different views.

Activity 4 B) Analyse data and information

Next, make up a statement that gives your view of one aspect of a national day. Print it across the top of a sheet of A4 paper. This is going to form part of an activity called “Consensogram”. Other students are going to think about your statement and place a sticker across the bottom of the sheet to indicate how much they agree or disagree with what you have said. For this reason, your statement must be about your opinion, rather than something which leaves no room for differences. Some examples are shown in Figure 6. You will also need to give some markers across the bottom of the sheet, so that people can plan where to put their response sticker. Look at the example provided to get the idea. Pin up your sheets in the display area.

Use the time set aside by your teacher, or whatever time you can find in breaks from other work to become familiar with the work of other students. Mark your opinions on other students’ Censograms, and see what their opinions are on your examples.

For the teacher | Introduction | Investigation | Review existing information | Report the findings | Taking Action | Evaluation and assessment | Resources