We Are Australian: Activity 1: Setting the scene: 'What is Australian identity?'

The concept of identity

Discuss with the class the means by which we identify individuals, families, groups and nations. List the suggestions under each heading.

Ask students to sort these ideas into types, such as appearance, attitudes, lifestyles and favourite activities. Discuss that these aspects build an 'identity' for each person or group.

Focus questions:

  • How do we recognise that someone supports a particular sporting team? (explore ways that we express belonging, eg use of colours, club songs, badges, emblems)
  • How do people show us that they belong to a particular nation? (eg language, accent, looks, national colours, symbols, songs)

Exploring Australian identity

Divide the class into six groups. Explore what it means to be 'Australian'. Suggest that perhaps students are explorers from another country who have just discovered Australians for the first time. How would they report back to their country on who Australians are, what they look like and what makes them different?

Give each group one of the following questions to explore. Ask them to write or draw all their answers on separate pieces of small paper.

  • What do 'The Australians' look like?
  • What is/are the language/s of 'The Australians' like?
  • What religions and customs do they practise?
  • What work and activities do 'The Australians' like to do?
  • How do 'The Australians' rule themselves?
  • What do 'The Australians' believe in and value as people?

Ask groups to share their answers with the whole class. Display these answers by creating a wall mural about Australian identity in the classroom using the groups' text and imagery.

Use the wall mural to stimulate a whole class discussion on 'Australian identity'.

Focus questions

  • Is there a 'typical' Australian? If so, how would you describe this person? If not, why not?
  • Are Australians really different from other peoples? If so, what are the main elements of this 'difference'?
  • How are Australians the same?
  • What are the common important beliefs and activities that keep Australians together?
  • Where do you see variety and diversity in the Australian people?
  • Is this important in a description of who Australians are?
  • Are we 'one' nation or many nations? What is a nation?

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