Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

Impact of war

[Episode 10 | 1918 : Bertie]

Evelyn, Bertie's sister, receives news of the death of Freddie Miller. Bertie laments the death of his father and Freddie; both killed in the war. He tells Sid, an Aboriginal soldier, about his plan to buy his brother Eddie a present on his return from the war and they devise a plan to raise the money to purchase the gift.


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 [2]

Activity 1: Indigenous soldiers
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Subtheme(s): Australians at war; Indigenous perspectives

We will never know the exact number of Indigenous men who served in the First World War as many did not list their background due to fear of discrimination. The government did not at first permit Indigenous Australians to enlist, although restrictions were later eased. Regardless of this prejudice, more than 400 Indigenous people did decide to enlist and fought for their country alongside fellow Australian soldiers. However, they did not receive the same benefits as non-Indigenous soldiers upon their return home.

  • As a class, watch 'The Forgotten' by Glen Stasiuk, a 40-minute documentary highlighting the Indigenous soldiers in the Australian Armed Forces. The DVD is available for purchase from Message Stick, 'The Forgotten', http://www.abc.net.au/tv/messagestick/stories/s820390.htm
  • Discuss the contribution of Indigenous servicemen and servicewomen as outlined in the film.

  • Once students have learned more about the conditions awaiting returned soldiers, ask them to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, protesting about the inequality of the treatment of Indigenous soldiers, such as Sid, and non-Indigenous soldiers after they returned from the First World War.


Activity 2: Prejudice
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Subtheme(s): Australians at war; Gender roles and stereotypes; Indigenous perspectives

Indigenous Australians have served in all conflicts undertaken by the Australian Defence Forces, even when denied rights such as the right to vote in many states and territories, or access to the returned servicemen's pension.

  • Ask students: what would it feel like to be discriminated against? Discuss this concept and ask  students to draw on any personal experiences they may have of being discriminated against. Use a Y-Chart to express their view on the following focus questions:
  1. What does discrimination look like?
  2. What does discrimination feel like?
  3. What does discrimination sound like?

  • Students watch the clip 'Impact of war' again, this time focusing on the body language and voices of Bertie, Sid and Mr Watson. Using the Student Activity Sheet provided, they should respond to the questions on what discrimination looks like and sounds like, using examples observed in the clip. All responses can be shared with the class.


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