The convict

[Episode 20 | 1818 : Charles]

Charles brings Liam some bread but only agrees to bring boots if Liam agrees to help him finish the fence. Liam tells Charles the story of how he ended up as a convict and of his dreams for the future.


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 [1]

Activity 1: The emancipist debate
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Subtheme(s): Character; Relationships; Social order and education

In this clip, the escaped convict, Liam, dreams of a life farming land beyond the Blue Mountains. The fate of convicts, after they had served their term or been pardoned, was a controversial issue in the early days of settlement. Such convicts were known as 'emancipists' and not all members of the colony agreed on whether this group of ex-convicts should be allowed to hold land, or indeed whether they should be readmitted into society. Some influential landholders and military officers, known as the 'exclusives', thought that emancipated convicts were a disruptive element with no place in polite society. Others, including Governor Macquarie, believed that the emancipists could be rehabilitated and had an important role to play in the future prosperity of the colony.

  • As a class, have students view the clip 'The emancipists and opposition debate' from the website listed below and take notes so they are ready for discussion about the two sides of the issue.
  1. State Library of New South Wales, 'The Governor: Lachlan Macquarie 1810 to 1821', Elevating the Emancipists,
  • Have students conduct further research into the issue at the school or local library, or online. They should write notes to assist with their own points within the debate.

  • In small groups, ask students to discuss and explore the issue of whether the emancipists should have been rehabilitated.
  • The class should select six speakers, three for each side of the debate. Divide the class into six groups where each group is attached to a speaker. The group researches elements of the argument for their speaker. Each speaker presents on a different point of the argument - for or against. Each speaker can present their argument in whatever means they wish, such as speech, PowerPoint, video, audio, or poster.


Student Activity Sheet H20.4: The emancipist debate

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