Lesson Ideas for Teachers

Making multicultural Australia

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KLA/Subject: HSIE

Stage: Stage 3



  • CCS3.1 Explains the significance of particular people, groups, places, actions and events in the past in developing Australian identities and heritage.
  • CUS3.3 Describes different cultural influences and their contribution to Australian identities.
  • ENS3.5 Demonstrates an understanding of the interconnectedness between Australia and global environments and how individuals and groups can act together in an ecologically responsible manner.
  • SSS3.7 Describes how Australian people, systems and communities are globally interconnected and recognises global responsibilities.


These three lessons are an introduction to information about refugees and related issues. Students develop an understanding of the terms ‘asylum seeker’, ‘refugee’, ‘migrant’ and ‘illegal migrant’. Students also investigate from where in the world refugees have fled to come to Australia and some of the feelings that might be associated with flight and relocation. There are also numerous ideas for extension activities.

Material to Download

Worksheet: Refugees - Worksheet

Information Pamphlets: Fact Sheet: Over Fifty Years of Post War Immigration

Quiz: Migrants, Multiculturalism and Refugees, from Racism. No way!

Fact Sheet: Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants, from Racism. No way!

Definitions: Hotwords - definitions for asylum seeker, migrant, illegal immigrant, refugee

For extension activities:

Artworks: HSC Artworks

Artworks: Refugee Art

Artworks: Tapestry and Weaving

Artworks: Textile Journeys

Case Study: Survivors of the SIEVX

Case Study: The Story of Fatima

Suggested Activities


  • Introduction
  • Millions of people have come to Australia from other countries over the last 200+ years. They have come for a range of reasons. Some have come as explorers, some to trade, some by force (eg. convicts), some have chosen to come for a better life and some have come due to circumstances in their homeland which forced them to leave.

  • Quiz
  • Divide students into groups of four. Download a copy of the quiz 'Migrants, Multiculturalism and Refugees' and distribute to each group. Ask students to complete the quiz on paper. Alternatively, if students have access to a computer they can complete the quiz online. Discuss the answers as a class.

  • Definition
  • Distribute both pages of the worksheet, 'Refugees'. Ask students to write their own definition for a ‘refugee’.
    Download and distribute a copy of the Racism No Way! Fact Sheet 'Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants' to each group and ask students to read the definition of a refugee and compare with their own. Ask students to also read the definitions of the other terms (see 'Materials to Download') and as a class discuss the differences between them.

  • Group discussion
  • Brainstorm as a class what situations might lead people to becoming refugees. Ask students to add this information to their worksheet.

  • Class discussion
  • As a class, discuss the difference between the following terms. Refer to the Racism No Way! Fact Sheet and Hotwords for information about these terms.
    • asylum seeker
    • refugee
    • migrant
    • illegal immigrant

    Discuss what situations lead people to becoming refugees.

  • Conclusion
  • Summarise what a refugee is and how someone becomes a refugee.


  • Introduction
  • Refugees have come to Australia over the last 200 years. The source countries have changed over time depending on what has been happening in other countries.

  • Group work
  • Download the Information Pamphlet, 'Fact Sheet: Over Fifty Years of Post War Immigration'. Divide students into groups of four and ask each group to read the pamphlet in order to gain an overview of the refugee intake in Australia. Ask groups to discuss from which countries Australia has accepted refugees. Ask students to then write these countries on their worksheet.

    Ask groups to then take turns to colour on a world map the regions/countries they listed. Students can use different colours for different time periods, roughly pre-1901, 1901–1938, 1945–1970s, 1980s, 1991–now.

  • Conclusion
  • Ask the class to look at the map and emphasise that refugees can come from any country – European, Asian, African, etc. Events happen in the world which make people leave their own country and seek refuge elsewhere. For this reason countries around the world help people in need.


  • Introduction
  • Ask students in the class who has migrated to Australia from another country. Ask them how they prepared to leave, for example:
    • chose country
    • found out information about new country
    • chose timeframe
    • booked air tickets
    • told family, friends, teachers of plans to go
    • packed things to be sent ahead and/or take with the family
    • found good homes for pets
    • farewell party
    • promised to phone and write to family and friends from new country
  • Discussion
  • Discuss as a class the following:

    People don’t plan to become refugees. Circumstances beyond an individual’s control force them to flee, often at very short notice. Refugees often do not have the opportunity for any of the activities mentioned above. Many refugees are unable to say goodbye, including to family members, as this potentially endangers those who plan to leave and those who are left behind. Refugees often leave their homes with only the clothes they are wearing. Sometimes they do not have passports or travel documents as it may be too risky to apply for these from the country in which they are living or too dangerous to travel with them when in transit. The journey from their home to the country in which they seek protection can be dangerous. Once in their new country they may not be able to contact family members as this may be dangerous for those left behind.

  • Group work
  • Divide students into groups of four and ask each group to write a scenario in which people would be forced to flee and seek refuge outside Australia. Advise groups that in this scenario, they do not know which country they will go to from Australia or how they will get there. They also don’t know which country will accept them. Discuss the likely feelings in the given situation prior to leaving. Ask each group to report back on their scenarios.

  • Group work
  • Ask groups to discuss where they would try to seek asylum if they had to flee their homeland and what feelings they might have on the way and on arrival in the new country. What reception might they expect? Share discussions as a whole class.

  • Group work
  • Ask groups to discuss which ten items students would take with them on their journey. Ask groups to report back and then as a class, try to reach agreement over which ten items would be best and why.

  • Conclusion
  • Conclude by explaining to the class that the experience of being forced to leave your home, belongings and possibly family would be very frightening and probably very dangerous. Wealth does not prevent the possibility of becoming a refugee but once people are forced to flee they usually have little. There are millions of people in the world now who are fleeing their homelands for a range of reasons and hoping to find safety elsewhere to begin a new life. Australia accepts people from many countries who need to find a place of refuge. These people are then able to continue their lives and become part of the richness that is Australia.

Preparation Checklist

You will need to:

  • Download and copy one copy of the worksheet, 'Refugees' for each student
  • Download and copy the following for groups of four students:
    • Information Pamphlet, 'Fact Sheet: Over Fifty Years of Post War Immigration'
    • Racism. No way! 'Fact Sheet: Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants'
    • Racism. No way! Quiz, 'Migrants, Multiculturalism and Refugees (unless students have access to computers in the classroom to complete this online)
  • Download and copy for students or make overhead transparencies of:
    • Hotwords: definitions of asylum seeker, refugee, migrant, illegal immigrant
  • Find an outline of a world map and enlarge this on the photocopier
  • Obtain materials for colouring in map, e.g. crayons, pencils, paint
  • For extension activities, download and copy relevant resources in colour(see 'Materials to Download').


Ask students to:

  1. Find examples of prominent Australians who came to Australia as refugees and discuss their contributions to the Australian and international communities. Examples of people to research include:
    • Tuong Quang Luu (Head of SBS Radio)
    • Sir Gustav Nossel (scientist)
    • Judy Cassab (artist)
    • Caroline Tran (JJJ presenter)
    • Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (scientist, author, broadcaster, educator)
    • Judit Korner (businesswomen)
    • Jardin Truong (businessman)
    • Frank Lowy (businessman)

  2. Explore the feelings of refugees as they are expressed them in art. Students should begin by considering the Artworks listed in 'Materials to Download' above:
    • HSC Artworks: Students should consider artworks by Thi Ngugen (Refugee boats) and Michael Aziz (The Cause of Freedom)
    • Refugee Art: Students should look at the 8 paintings and explanations from the exhibition: “a patch of blue…”
    • Tapestry and Weaving: Students should look at the 6 works and explanations reflecting the different backgrounds of the creators who were refugees
    • Textile Journeys: Students should look at the 6 stories told in fabric by Refugee Women from North East Africa

  3. Older and more mature students may also be asked to read the following case studies (see 'Materials to Download above):
    • Survivors of the SIEVX
    • The Story of Fatima

Related Resources

Not applicable

Lesson Notes

Great care and sensitivity needs to be used in deciding whether to and in what manner to investigate this issue with students as some students or their parents may be refugees or have experienced circumstances that forced their families to leave another country. Some students may have family in countries currently experiencing turmoil and are unable to escape.

Date Added:

11 December 2004