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Governor's orders

[Episode 24 | 1788 : Dan]

Dan tries to compensate Waruwi for the loss of her dingo by taking a number of items from around the camp and giving them to her. Dan drums out the marines as they march to the point.


The Australian curriculum: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [2]

Activity 1: Compensation
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions; Indigenous perspectives
  • Prior to watching this clip, discuss the concept of compensation with the students. Look at the historical context where Governor Arthur Philip (1738-1814), the first governor of the colony of New South Wales from 1788 to 1792, did not want anyone to steal from Indigenous peoples. Explore why this was often overlooked by others with power and authority. 
  • Make a list of the ways Indigenous people are treated in Episode 24 | 1788: Dan, including comments made and the soldiers' actions and reactions. Discuss whether comments made by the soldiers are ethnocentric. As a comparison, have students note the terms that Waruwi and her nanna use to refer to the marines. For each perspective, have students discuss the following questions:
  1. Do the characters consider one culture as the ideal or the 'norm' and judge others in relation to it? 
  2. Are references to lifestyles and technology described using negative terms such as 'no', 'not', 'under-' or 'dis-'? 
  3. Do the characters overgeneralise about people and talk about characteristics such as personalities or social/culture behaviour in a certain way? 
  • Is each culture represented as valid and worthwhile, and acknowledged for its complexity and diversity, or is it considered primitive or uncivilised compared to other cultures?
  • Be aware of the sensitivities underlying these discussions, particularly for Indigenous students and students from other cultural backgrounds in your class. Be aware of students' backgrounds, understandings and experiences to ensure discussions are inclusive to all groups. If you are unsure, discuss your concerns with Indigenous staff, families or community members in your school.
  • Support your classroom activities and discussions by referring to the 'Racism. No way!' website:
    Racismnoway, 'Teaching Resources', www.racismnoway.com.au/teaching-resources/anti-racism-activities/
  • Draw students' attention to the conversation between Dan and the soldier Goodwin. Refer students to Student Activity Sheet E24.3: Compensation to answer the following questions:
  1. According to Goodwin, who makes the laws?
  2. Why doesn't Goodwin regard taking the dingo from Waruwi as stealing?
  3. What does this say about the different ways Indigenous people were seen and treated at this time?
  4. According to Dan, what does the governor say about taking things from Indigenous people?
  5. Who does Dan blame for ignoring the governor's law about compensation?
  • Ask students to write down a list of the objects that Dan steals to give to Waruwi as compensation for taking her dog. Ask the students to write their opinion of whether they think this is a fair exchange.

  • Ask students to recount a time in which they gave something up in exchange for something else. Ask them to write what they gave up, what they got in return, why they did it, whether they regretted it, if they would do it again and whether they think it's a good way to acquire new things. Ask them to share their experiences with the class.
  • Ask each student to bring an object to class to trade. Have students pair off and discuss each of their items. Ask them to consider:
  1. What gives an object value?
  2. Does that value always correspond to its cost?
  3. Would they trade their object for the object their partner brought in? Have them list their reasons.
  • Ask students to develop an advertisement for their object. The advertisement could be a poster, newspaper advertisement or filmed advertisement.


Activity 2: Stranded
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions; Food; Indigenous perspectives
  • Focus students' attention on the fact that in Episode 24 | 1788: Dan, as in Episode 23 | 1788: Waruwi, the British marines are waiting for the return of a ship to pick them up and take them to the settlement at Sydney Cove. You could read extracts from Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe to give students an example of what it was like to be stranded on an unfamiliar island.
  • Draw student's attention to the conversation between the cook and Dan. Ask students the following questions:
  1. Dan asks for dripping to line his boots - what is dripping?
  2. How was dripping normally eaten?
  3. Dan says he wants it for his feet - is this true?
  4. How would it have helped his feet?
  5. What is his real purpose in asking for the dripping?
  6. What are rations?
  • Focus students' attention on the fact that the cook says, 'The colony is starving and he wants to waste precious dripping on his boots.' Explain to students the use of the word 'colony' and draw students' attention to the cook's line, 'We'll be eating those boots if no ship turns up.' Ask students to research what food was in plentiful supply in the environment around them that Indigenous peoples had eaten over many thousands of years and that the soldiers could have eaten. Refer to the following websites:
  1. ABC Education: Schools, 'Food for Thought: Episode 4', Wild Tucker: Australia's Indigenous Food, www.abc.net.au/schoolstv/food/ep4.htm  
  2. Australian National Botanic Gardens, 'Traditional Uses of Australian Native Plants', www.anbg.gov.au/bibliography/bushfood.html 
  3. Screen Australia, 'Living Country 2005', aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/living-country/clip3/ Honey ants - Northern Territory
  4. ——'Cool Drink and Culture 2006', aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/cool-drink-and-culture/clip3/ Ininti seeds - Northern Territory
  5. ——'Dugong Dugong 1980', aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/dugong-dugong/clip2/ Dugong - Mornington Island
  6. ——'My Survival as an Aboriginal 1978: Zigzag', aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/my-survival-aboriginal/clip1/ Echidna - NSW
  7. ——'My Survival as an Aboriginal 1978: Lessons on Survival', aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/my-survival-aboriginal/clip2/ Fruit - NSW
  • Connect with local Indigenous peoples and groups to find out about local foods that are still used and how the technologies, preparation and laws around these local foods have changed over time.

  • Ask students to design two menus:
  1. Local foods which Waruwi could have made for Dan and the marines.
  2. Food which Dan would have eaten and could have made and served to Waruwi.
  • Refer students to Student Activity Sheet E24.4: Stranded. Students could also present the menus as a poster or slideshow presentation.


Student Activity Sheet E25.2b: Stranded

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