Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Lesson Plans


The following lesson plans have been prepared for the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Project by specialist eductators from the History Teachers Association of Victoria, the Social Educators Association of Australia and edited by Wendy McNabb, Sophie Couchman and Maureen Welch.

Using lesson plans - provides and introduction to the lesson plans and information about how to use them.

lower secondary

Food: From bananas to bok choy Students look at the contribution made by Chinese communities to the Australian diet. Many Chinese were market gardeners and merchants in the 19th century. With the recent influx of Asian migrants the Australian diet has become more varied.

The changing face of Little Bourke Street (Junior)

Chinatowns have developed in many countries around the world. Some of these Chinatowns have histories that go back to the goldrush era, others have disappeared as the Chinese population shifted and declined. Students use the 'Melbourne Chinatown Streets Database 1900-1920' to complete an empathy exercise reflecting on the changing face of a small section of Little Bourke Street. As an extension activity students consider some of the important events which shaped the lives of the Chinese people living and working in Melbourne during the early 20th century.

Journeys from China Students locate the places mentioned in a selection of stories from the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website. Using atlases, students calculate the distances travelled. Possible reasons for migration are also considered.
Life and Death on the goldfields: A cemetery cyber-search There are Chinese cemeteries and Chinese sections in cemeteries scattered across Australia, particularly in the old mining districts. Students use and search the 'Old Cemetery in Ballarat' database and the 'Chinese Inquests in Victoria' database. The tasks involve students in group tasks of reading and ordering data, interpreting, and forming hypotheses emerging from the data.
Sharing Dragons Students investigate the contribution of Chinese people to celebrations in Australia and explore why they have played such a prominent role. The Federation Parade in Melbourne in 1901, the Bendigo Easter Fair and the Centenary of Federation 'Our Nation On Parade' in Melbourne, 2001 are used as case studies. Students suggest how a group from their local area, if they had moved to live in another country, would contribute to their new community.

middle secondary

History repeats - 'Boat people' on the Afghan and the Tampa Students investigate the Afghan incident of 1888, where a ship, the Afghan, with a load of Chinese passengers from Hong Kong was refused permission to land the passengers. This controversy is compared to the Tampa crisis of August/September 2001.
A workers' paradise? The Chinese community and their experience of work in Australia Students look at the working lives of Chinese-Australians at the turn of the 20th century, the different areas in which they worked and their successes. This is followed by an examination of the impact of the Australian Commonwealth Government's approach to work practices and treatment of non-whites through legislation.
Traditional Chinese medicine Students read about Kwong Sue Duk and his role in introducing traditional Chinese medicine to people in Australia. The passage of the Chinese Medicine Registration Act 2000 through the Parliament of Victoria is examined to demonstrate the lasting significance of this contribution to our culture.
The life of William Ah Ket - Building bridges between East and West Students read the story of William Ah Ket, an Australian-born Chinese man who became a respected leader in the community in the early 20th century. This story is used as the context for research, vocabulary development and creative tasks.
Participation in civic life Students investigate the political activism of Chinese in Australia - from the protests against discrimination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the participation of Chinese Australians in all levels of government in recent years.
Opium: Use and abuse Students investigate the issue of opium smoking amongst Chinese communities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They look at how opium use was used to create ill-feeling towards Chinese people. Students analyse whether the stereotypical view of the Chinese as opium addicts was justified. They may use this as historical background to then undertake a study of the use of opium in society today.
Racial discrimination against the Chinese in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Students examine the stereotypes of Chinese immigrants to Australia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They evaluate the validity of these stereotypes and investigate various pieces of legislation that discriminated against the Chinese.

The faces and lives in Little Bourke Street (Middle)

Chinatowns have developed in many countries around the world. Some of these Chinatowns have histories that go back to the goldrush era, others have disappeared as the Chinese population shifted and declined. Students use the 'Melbourne Chinatown Streets Database 1900-1920' database, 'Digitised Historical Documents Database' and the 'Federation stories' on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation site to complete an empathy/research exercise reflecting on the lives of those working in a small section of Little Bourke Street. Students consider some of the important events that shaped the lives of the Chinese people living and working in Melbourne during the early 20th century.

Chinese newspapers Students investigate the role of Chinese newspapers in the Australian Chinese community, both in the early 20th century and today. They also consider the role of ethnic newspapers in general.
Political voices in the Chinese community in the late 19th century This unit focuses on a range of responses from members of the Chinese community to concerns and developments in Australia in the late 19th century. Much of the writing and imagery of this time gives the impression of a passive Chinese community silenced in the face of prevailing white views. Through selected primary sources this unit explores the pro-active actions of Chinese communities.
Stories of individuals in the Chinese community: A comparative approach Students focus on stories describing the experiences of several individuals in the Chinese community and compare them with the experiences of Chinese immigrants in the late 20th century.
Chinese communities, Federation and the early Commonwealth In 1901 Chinese communities around Australia held processions and built archways to celebrate Australia's federation. At the same time the soon to be federated Colonial governments were developing the 'White Australia Policy'. Students contrast these two developments and explore the impact of the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act on Chinese Australian people.