Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Chinese newspapers

Unit title:
Chinese newspapers

Year level:
Middle secondary

Key learning areas:
Studies of society and environment

Curriculum emphasis:
From Studies in Asia: A Statement for Australian Schools:
- Likely implications of closer Asia-Australia relationships
- World contributions by the peoples of Asia

Two to three 50 minute lessons

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.

Teacher background material:
The following links provide an introduction and overview of the topics covered in this unit:
- Brief History of the Chinese in Australia on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.
- 'Chinese Newspapers in Australia from the Turn of the Century' an article on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website describing the history of Chinese newspapers in Australia.
- 'Boxer Uprising' on the MSN Encarta describes the causes and effects of the Boxer Rebellion.
- 'Boer War' on the MSN Encarta describes the causes and effects of the Boer War.

Student outcomes:
Students will:
- identify some reasons that ethnic communities produce their own newspapers in Australia and understand the functions served by these newspapers
- name some sources of news available in Australia in languages other than English.

Materials required:
- Computer/s with internet access. Alternatively could use a cached version of the site or print the relevant pages and copy onto overheads or handouts.
- A hard copy of a newspaper or magazine in Chinese (or another language other than English). See Onlinenewspapers website for information on Australian newspapers available on the web. Ask your local newsagent what foreign language newspapers, produced in Australia are available in your area. Your newsagent should have a booklet called 'National Title Tracker' which lists newspapers and other publications available. Check the main dailies in your state/town to see if they have any other language versions available online (The Age in Melbourne has a Chinese edition online).


In an introductory discussion raise the following questions:
- What is the role of newspapers in our community?
- Why do people read them?
- Do students know that newspapers are produced in Australia for particular ethnic groups in their own language?
- Have any of the students (or their parents, grandparents etc) from a non-English speaking background (NESB) ever read an Australian-produced newspaper in their own language? If so, why? (eg: unable to read English, get news from old country, get different point of view on events etc)

2. Tung Wah Times in the early twentieth century:
Read the introductory text to the 'Tung Wah Index' on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.
- Why is the Tung Wah Times considered to be 'probably the most important publication in the history of Australia's Chinese communities'?

Read the handout containing extracts from 'Chinese Newspapers in Australia from the Turn of the Century' (full text available on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website).
- Why did the Melbourne Patriotic News argue that the Chinese should become actively involved in local Australian political activities?
- What two reasons are given to explain why Chinese newspapers should have run into difficulties in the early 1920s?

Search the 'Tung Wah Times database' to find out if the Chinese community was interested or involved in the Federation of the Australian colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia.

Try entering 'commonwealth', then 'federation' in the 'Find' box. Clear the 'Find' box, then go down to the 'Advanced Search' box. Select 2nd January, 1901, then click on 'Start search'. What other world events were of interest to the Chinese community in Australia at this time? (Boxer Rebellion, Boer War)

3. Community language newspapers in your local area today:
List the community languages in which newspapers are likely to be available in your local area.

Visit or contact local newsagents to see if they stock papers in these languages.
- Do they stock any newspapers in languages other than those on your list?

If possible, get a copy of an Australian-produced newspaper in a community language and a copy of one of the main daily newspapers from your state/town for the same day. Look at the English language paper and list some of the main news stories, articles, sections.
- Which of these would you expect to also see in the community language paper?
- Which would you not expect to see?

With the help of the pictures to give you clues, or someone who reads that community language, try to compare the content of the two papers. Present your findings in the form of a table. What conclusions can you draw from this?

Extension activities:
1. Argumentative essay or debate
Write an argumentative essay or hold a debate on the topic: 'Community language newspapers isolate these groups and discourage involvement with the rest of the Australian community'.

2. PMI (Plus/Minus/Interesting) table
Do a 'PMI table' on the concept of community language newspapers (Plus/Minus/Interesting, is a lateral and creative thinking strategy used in de Bono's CoRT Thinking program. See 'PMI' information on the English Learning Area website developed by Tasmanian Educational Leaders’ Institute). Would you like to be able to read an English language newspaper including Australian news if you were living in another country for an extended period?

Karen Dowling

Download Handout 'Chinese newspapers in Australia from the turn of the century' (41kb word document)

Summary of websites used in this lesson:
Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website - http
- Brief History of the Chinese in Australia - education/history.htm
- 'Chinese Newspapers in Australia from the Turn of the Century' by Liu Weiping (translated by Sang Yichuan and John Fitzgerald) - chinese_newspapers.htm

- Tung Wah Times newspaper index - tungwah.htm

MSN Encarta website -

Onlinenewspapers website -

Chinese edition on The Age newspaper website -

English Learning Area website developed by Tasmanian Educational Leaders’ Institute -