The 'Tippy'

[Episode 4 | 1978 : Mike]

Mike learns from his father, Michaelis, that the 'Tippy' is different since returning from the Vietnam War. Regardless of difference, Mike regards the Tippy as his genuine best friend.


The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [3]

Activity 1: Post-traumatic stress
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Subtheme(s): Australians at war

In Episode 4: 1978: Mike, the 'Tippy' and Mike's father are Vietnam veterans. Michaelis explains to Mike that the Tippy keeps to himself because of his experiences in the war. Many Vietnam veterans endured emotional, physical or psychological trauma during and after the war.

  • Ask students to explore the reasons why Australia became involved in the Vietnam War. As a class, create a poster fact sheet divided into two columns. The first column, titled 'Pre-war', will list the reasons why Australia became involved. The second column, titled 'Post-war', is for reasons why Australia withdrew troops from Vietnam.
  • Create a timeline highlighting Australia's involvement in the war and the main events, dates and people involved.
  • Ask students to find out from family members what they thought of Australia's involvement in the war and how they related to the returned soldiers. Students could interview these family members and record their memories as a social history with images or film clips.

  • Ask students to write an article for the local newspaper based on an interview with a Vietnam veteran, a protest organiser or an ALP politician elected when Whitlam was prime minister. The interview should outline the interviewee's thoughts and actions regarding the Vietnam War and the need to support veterans afterwards.


Activity 2: The RSL
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Subtheme(s): Australians at war
  • Invite students to listen to a guest speaker from the Returned and Services League (RSL). The RSL is a valuable community resource that supports returned service people. Contact the local RSL to find out if there are members willing to speak to the class about their experiences.
  • Alternatively, students may have a family member who would be willing to come to the classroom to speak.
  • The following websites may be useful:
  1. Returned Services League,
  2. Anzac Day, 'Vietnam',
  3. Ask students to view the film clip from Screen Australia Digital Learning, 'Australian soldiers on patrol in Vietnam',

  • Ask students to create a Y chart to describe the experiences of the soldiers who were fighting in Vietnam. Ask students to imagine the role of the soldier and write their responses in the Y chart using the three points below.
  1. What does it look like?
  2. What does it feel like?
  3. What does it sound like?
  • Have students share their responses with the class.


Activity 3: Old and new
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Subtheme(s): Australians at war
  • Ask students to source a map of Vietnam and enlarge it twice so the detail of the country is evident on both maps. On the map, they should mark the key cities in Vietnam and the division of the country into North Vietnam and South Vietnam at the time of the war. Have students research the battles that Australians were involved in and pinpoint these places on the map. From their research they should write a short paragraph about each battle and add this to the map.
  • Ask students to find out which Australian soldiers were decorated for bravery during the Vietnam War, find images of them and write a paragraph on their exploits. Add this information to the map. Build information about Australia's participation by adding it to the map or a timeline.

  • On the second map, ask students to present information about Vietnam today. Emphasise that the information should reflect modern Vietnam, its industries, exports, government, education policies, culture and so forth. Ask students to find images that are associated with growth and prosperity, people and culture, cities and rural communities. They should also find out about Australia's relations with Vietnam today through business, education and aid. Ask them to reflect on the legacy of the Vietnam War.

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