Claremont College, Tasmania The school and community

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Claremont College, Tasmania

The school and community
Claremont College is located in the northern suburbs of Hobart and draws students from diverse backgrounds. Students come from the northern suburbs of Glenorchy, Claremont, Bridgewater and Gagebrook as well as rural communities in the Midlands and Derwent Valley. Some rural students travel up to one and a half hours each way to and from college. A significant feeder school is New Norfolk High School in the Derwent Valley. For some time post-compulsory retention in New Norfolk has been a significant issue. At one stage New Norfolk had the third lowest retention rate (post- compulsory) in Australia.
The College is situated in the educational district of Derwent, which has the highest educational needs index (ENI) of any educational district in Tasmania. The College draws from areas with middle to very low socioeconomic indicators, and, as such, many of our students come from a home background of unemployment and altered family situations, and often have very low self-esteem.
The College is a state government secondary college of 900 students of which 120 students are Indigenous. The College offers a full range of pre-tertiary (university entrance) subjects, 19 vocational education and training programs (more than any other Tasmanian college) and a significant range of general courses. The College is noted for its inclusion policy and, as a result, we have a significant enrolment of students with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
The College has a philosophy based on equal outcomes for its students and has been innovative in providing programs tailored to suit the students' needs. For two consecutive years (2001, 2002) Claremont College was named one of the 10 best schools in Australia (The Australian newspaper's Best Schools Project), and in 2003 won the Australian Education Union (AEU) Reconciliation Award.
Contact details

Claremont College

61 Claremont Link Road

Claremont Tas 7011

PO Box 168

Claremont Tas 7011


Program overview – 'Reading Our Rights'
The 'Reading Our Rights' unit gives students the opportunity to make an acquaintance with living Tasmanian Aboriginal history through the voices of Tasmanian Aboriginal people. It demonstrates that citizenship is not a recent phenomenon, and allows students to explore some of the ways in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal voices have been heard throughout the land in the past and how they are heard in the present.
Year level
This unit has been designed for Year 11 students at Claremont College, Tasmania, but can be adapted for use elsewhere.
Length of unit
The unit is planned to take place for 20 hours over four weeks.
Learning areas
The focus is in English and Studies of Society and Environment, and has a place in the Arts and Technology (Design, Make, Appraise).

Unit themes

Voices of the Land

Students become aware that the origins of Tasmanian Aboriginal people's voices are with us through recorded and oral history. They look at ways the world is perceived to have been created and how the land has been named, and they have the opportunity to research the naming.

Claiming a Voice

Through researching the experiences of Aboriginal people in terms of their rights, wrongs and responsibilities, students explore the concepts of discrimination and persistence.

Sharing a Voice

Students focus on texts that describe both the land and Tasmanian Aboriginal people's lives. They use these as inspiration for recording oral histories within the school.

Many Voices

This section allows students to experience Aboriginal people's writing, poetry, film, and language and to chronicle their experiences.

Prior to beginning the unit, display a map of Tasmania showing different language groups. This could be photocopied and enlarged from the one in Kaye Price's Our Land: Our Living History (see Resources).

Learning Activities

Voices of the Land
Part A

Begin by asking students to offer theories of how the world was made. Discuss, then introduce the creation story 'Parlevar, Moihernee and Dromerdeener' (Handout 1) that has been adapted from George Robinson's journal in Friendly Mission (reproduced in Our Land: Our Living History).

Explain to students that creation stories vary according to where you live and your religious affiliation. Not all people from all cultures are the same. Among Tasmanian Aboriginal people, Laller is believed to have helped create the land. In other parts of Australia, Queensland for example, it is the Rainbow Serpent, in Victoria the Murray Cod, and the Bible tells us that God made the earth and the first two people. The Bible also tells us that Noah saved all the animals from a great flood, yet there are no Australian animals in this story.
Many students may not be familiar with the story of Noah, his ark and the flood, but prompting should result in some students naming the animals: giraffe, lion, elephant, among others. (Even if they don't know the story, some students may recognise that 'the animals went in two by two' from nursery school days.) Students may then wish to 'name the animals that Noah forgot'. Some students will begin to realise that much of history was written from a non-Australian and a non-Aboriginal perspective.
Part B

Within Australian Legends and Landscapes by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (see Resources) there are several Tasmanian stories written by Jimmy Everett, a Tasmanian Aborigine from the Ben Lomond Tribe, the Plangermairreener people from the east coast of Tasmania. In order to demonstrate how creation stories differ, choose one or two of these stories and provide photocopies for each student. Explain who Oodgeroo was, and how the book includes stories from all over Australia. Talk about Jimmy Everett and his place within Tasmanian Aboriginal society (a writer of poetry, short stories and theatre pieces, he has long been involved in Aboriginal politics and the Arts). If possible, have Jimmy visit to talk with the class.

If choosing the story about Kuti Kina, you may wish to have students view the video from the Keith Salvat set of Dreaming Stories.
Discuss the characters in the stories. For example Kuta Kina both punishes and rewards and Wrageorapper is a force to be reckoned with. Our Land: Our Living History could be a useful resource in relation to Wrageorapper.
See also the 20 Dreamtime stories available on

  • Australian Museum Online: Indigenous Australia
    Choose 'Stories of the Dreaming' but note the prohibition on reproducing these stories and retelling them in other ways.

Invite students to discuss the three Rs – Responsibility, Reciprocity and Religious Beliefs in relation to creation.

Invite students to depict the phrase 'The land is speaking with one voice' from a visual or performing arts perspective. This could include a group or individual performance. Alternatively, some students may wish to present their interpretation in essay form or on audio or video tape.
Part C

If time permits, students could explore the naming of the Tasmanian landscape. Draw up a table with the following headings.

Aboriginal names for places

Other names for places

Describe reasons for names such as Friendly River, Welcome Plains. Use oral and written sources to explain different names for places.

Students could compare maps and languages of Europe and Australia. Using maps to scale, students may wish to discover how many Europes would fit in Australia. Question students about how many languages there are in Europe, and explore this phenomenon further to make clear why there would be more than one original Australian language.
Claiming a Voice
This unit is about citizenship.
Part A

Begin by making a citizen concept map on the white board.

Ask students what they think being a citizen means. Add their ideas to the concept map.
What do we know about being a citizen?

Students list what they consider to be a person's rights and responsibilities.

Students may offer, for example:

  • Rights: A citizen may hold a passport.

  • Responsibilities: Desirable ways of behaving.

Ask: Who is a non-citizen?

Students may offer, for example:

  • Someone who is imprisoned.

Part B

Distribute copies of 'Unity and Diversity', page 56 of the Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Lower Secondary Collection. Read the piece aloud and allow time for reflection before asking the following questions from page 62.

  1. According to Hirst, why did Australia have a White Australia Policy? Who supported it?

  2. What were some of the consequences of the introduction of this policy?

  3. What made it possible for people to take Aboriginal children from their parents regardless of whether they were in danger?

Students could research these issues using the many resources available on the White Australia Policy and the Stolen Generations. The following are readily available online resources.

For information on the White Australia Policy see:

  • Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
    Choose: Information resources/Fact Sheets/Fact Sheet 8, 'Abolition of the "White Australia" Policy'

  • Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units: 'What Sort of Nation?' Available online at

For information on the Stolen Generations see:

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission website
This has stories from the Bringing Them Home Report.
Choose: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice/Stolen Children/ Personal stories from the report
Students could also refer to the shorter form of the report, entitled Bringing Them Home – Community Guide. There are many other resources available.
See also the reference list in 'The Longest Journey', in Different Dreams: Integrated Units Collections Years 7 & 8 (refer to Resources).
Part C

Introduce the story of Ella Simon, pages 38-40 of Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Collection. Have students discuss the questions from page 60 (reproduced, slightly adapted, below).

  1. Why do people usually require a passport? What does the requirement to apply for and carry a Certificate, which Ella refers to as a 'passport' [and other Aboriginal people refer to as a 'dog tag'] tell you about the status of Aboriginal people at that time? Think about the status of those who had been granted a Certificate and those who had not. How do you think those who had been granted a Certificate felt? Do you think they might have been embarrassed around their family members?

  2. What basic human rights were being denied to Ella Simon?

  3. 'I was still a secret that had to be kept from the world – something that was shameful, something whose very existence was distasteful.' Why was Simon a secret?

  4. What does this statement suggest about the effect of such prejudice on people's self-respect and dignity?

  5. In what way does Christianity influence the responses of Simon to the injustices she suffers?

  6. Simon says she would react differently now; that she would not 'turn the other cheek'. What might account for that change in response? Which do you think is the best response?

Provide copies of certificates for each student.

Part D

Alternatively, students may want to explore the lives of Indigenous service men and women.

See, for example, Reg Saunders and Len Waters on the following sites:

  • The Australian War Memorial site:

  • Australian Aviation Archive

  • Digger History

Part E

Hand out copies of the article 'Chance to give Aborigines the vote passed up' from the Canberra Times, Thursday January 2, 1992 (see Handout 2).

Ask students to form pairs, or groups of three and talk about the content. They should be prepared to discuss it as a class group.
Following discussion, have students trace the voting and citizenship rights of Aboriginal people on the Internet. This information could be searched for and arranged using the following headings:

  • Rights prior to Federation

  • The Franchise Act 1902 (Cwlth) and Aboriginal citizenship

  • The Aboriginal Day of Mourning 1938

  • 1962 voting rights for Aborigines (non-compulsory voting)

  • 1965 freedom rides

  • 1967 referendum

  • 1984 compulsory voting.

The following online and print resources can be used for this task:

  • Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Units, 'Human Rights', What is Australia's record on Indigenous people's rights? pages 67–71; also available online at:

  • Discovering Democracy Lower Secondary Units, 'Democratic Struggles', Aboriginal people's struggles for full citizenship status, pages 92–98
    Also available online at:

  • Department of Immigration and Multiculturalism and Indigenous Affairs
    Choose: Information resources/Fact Sheets/Fact Sheet 8, 'Abolition of the "White Australia" Policy'

  • Australian Museum Online: Indigenous Australia

Sharing a Voice
Part A

Show students the video From Little Things Big Things Grow (see Resources).

Discuss the vignettes from the video, for example Vincent Lingiari and Gough Whitlam; the Mabo decision; the scene from the Wik settlement.
Ask students to give their opinions about why people were so excited about these issues.

Part B

Distribute the poem 'This Land' by Ian Mudie from Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Secondary Collection, page 6.

  1. What kind of picture is Mudie painting here?

  2. What does Mudie capture when he says 'in a mud-red shirt'?

  3. How does Mudie capture the close relationship between himself, the words he uses and the land?

Part C

Share stories from Tunapi Three: From Family to Community (see Resources).

Two stories written by Kevin McDonald that could be appropriate are 'Taken from Loved Ones' and 'An Aboriginal Child in Tasmania (see Handout 3).
Part D

Students have been given snapshots of a variety of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people and been introduced to a variety of concepts. This has prepared them to interview Aboriginal students and staff members to record their oral histories. This is a lead-up to interviewing older Aboriginal people within the community and recording their stories.

With permission the stories can be made into a book, several copies of which can be placed in the school library.
Instructions for students

  • Interview Aboriginal students for oral histories.

  • Interview Aboriginal community members for oral histories.

In planning the interviews it is necessary to develop protocols for interviewing especially when talking to Aboriginal elders. You should use an Aboriginal person in the development of the protocols. This is a valuable learning experience in itself.

Many Voices
Part A

Use the picture of Cathy Freeman and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor in Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Lower Secondary Collection, page 50 as a discussion starter.

Questions could include:

  • Who are the two people in the photograph?

  • What do you think when you see this photograph?

  • How do you think others may respond?

    • Media

    • Government

    • Aboriginal people

  • Why did Cathy Freeman drape herself with the Aboriginal flag?

Part B

Distribute copies of the poem 'All One Race' by Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal, from My People (Handout 4).

Read the poem out loud and ask students in what ways Oodgeroo's poem is similar to or different from Cathy Freeman's action. Discuss. (Note: Some students may be unfamiliar with some of the terms in the poem, for example 'pukka-sahibs'.)
Part C

Introduce students to the following videos and books.

  • Babakieurarea, a satire reversing the roles of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people

  • Aboriginal Voices, short biographies of a number of Aboriginal people

  • Many Voices, reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation (see Resources)

Students could prepare their own short biographies with a view to an in-school publication for use in the library. The following names of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could be used as a means of encouraging students to develop their own 'hall of fame'.

Albert Namatjira

Allan Mansell (Tasmanian Aboriginal man and artist featured in Many Voices)

Auntie Ida West

Eddie Mabo

Ernie Dingo

Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal)(her politics rather than her literature)


Len Waters

Lois O'Donohue

Michael Mansell

Molly Mallett

Nicky Winmar

Vincent Lingiari
Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Lower Secondary Collection

A Kwiambal person, pages 17–19

Sally Morgan, page 57

Cathy Freeman, page 50

Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Collection

Charles Perkins, page 17

Neville Bonner, page 18

Ella Simon, pages 38–40

Nicky Winmar, page 40
In developing biographies, students could comment on how many of these people were removed from their families.
Also refer to the list in Signposts … To Country, Kin and Culture (see Resources) to assist students in developing their biographies.
Many of these people are remembered or recognised for a particular action. Students (and teachers) may not be aware that Kickerterpoller was given boards depicting Governor Arthur's 1829 proclamation to the Aborigines to fix on trees in the country around Emu Bay.
Display Governor Arthur's proclamation from page 29 of Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Middle Secondary Collection to introduce the biography exercise.
Have students discuss the way in which the proclamation tells a story and the story that is being told.
Discuss pictorial representations further. For example: have students search for, and reproduce, Coats of Arms that feature Aboriginal people.
Semiotics note: During the Middle Ages battle armour was essential and, like football supporters today, supporters of warring noblemen distinguished themselves by wearing matching symbols, patterns and colours on their clothing and on the paraphernalia associated with their horses. This custom gave rise to the term 'coats of arms' and became a symbol of identity.

  • Make available copies of cartoons that depict Aboriginal issues and ask students to interpret and provide an explanation orally or in writing. Use Kaz Cooke's Beyond a Joke: An Anti-Bicentenary Cartoon Book (see Resources). If you use this text, you may need to debrief after this session as students may be sensitive to the content.

  • Show students a copy of the 1911 Cape Barren petition and, in groups, have them talk about the issues and elect a person from their group to report back to the whole class. For a copy of the petition see:

  • Compare Bradley's painting and Leunig's cartoon from page 31 of the Australian Readers Discovering Democracy Upper Secondary Collection. Which painting do students prefer and why? Have students look at the question relating to these two paintings and contribute to class discussion.

Discovering Democracy materials

Australian Readers Discovering Democracy (Lower Secondary Collection, Middle Secondary Collection and Upper Secondary Collection)
Discovering Democracy Units Online
Adult Literacy and Basic Education (ALBE) Resource Unit 1994, Tunapi Three: From Family to Community, Department of Education, Tasmania, Devonport
Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) 2002, History of the Indigenous Vote, Education Section, AEC
Bandler, Faith 1989, Turning the Tide: A Personal History of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra
Bennett, Scott 1989, Aborigines and Political Power, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, NSW
Coghill, L, Ketchell, J, Price, K & Martin, K 1997, Footprints ... To Country, Kin and Cultures, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne
Commonwealth of Australia 1993, Mabo: The High Court Decision on Native Title, discussion paper
Connor, L, Moyle, D, Price, K & Smith, S 1997, Signposts ... To Country, Kin and Cultures, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne
Cooke, Kaz 1988, Beyond a Joke ... An Anti-Bicentenary Cartoon Book, McPhee Gribble Publishers, Melbourne
Crawford, Evelyn (199?) Over My Tracks: A Remarkable Life, Penguin Books, Ringwood, Vic
Egan, Ted 1987, The Aboriginals Song Book, Greenhouse Publications, Richmond, Vic (See Handout 5 for one of Ted Egan's songs, 'Gurindji Blues'.)
Everett, Jim & Brown, Karen 1992, Weeta Poona: The Moon Is Risen, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Inc., Hobart
Flood, Sean 1993, Mabo: A Symbol of Sharing, the High Court Judgment Examined and Commentary on Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), Students' Edition, Fink, Glebe, NSW
Gilbert, Kevin 1993, Aboriginal Sovereignty: Justice, the Law and the Land, 3rd edn (includes draft treaty), Burrambinga Books, Canberra
Gordon, Harry 1962, 1965, The Embarrassing Australian: The Story of an Aboriginal Warrior [Reg Saunders], Lansdowne Press, Melbourne
Mallett, Molly 2002, My Past – Their Futures: Stories from Cape Barren Island, Blubberhead Press, Hobart
Miller, Doreen & Haebich, Anna 2002, Many Voices: Reflections on Experiences of Indigenous Child Separation, National Library of Australia, Canberra
Noonuccal, Oodgeroo 1990, Australian Legends and Landscapes, Random House, Sydney
Paterson, AB 2003, Possum Creek and The Animals Noah Forgot, Murray David Publishing Pty Ltd, Davidson, NSW
Price, K forthcoming, Our Land: Our Living History, rev. edn, Department of Education, Tasmania, Hobart
Price, K 1997, 'The Longest Journey', in Different Dreams: Integrated Units Collection Years 7 & 8, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne
Taylor, Gail 1999, Albert Namatjira, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne
West, Ida 1984, Pride against Prejudice: The Reminiscences of a Tasmanian Aborigine, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra
Documents and papers
Petition to Mr Howroyd from Cape Barren Island 21 November 1911. University of Tasmania Archives RS 40/1
Too Dark for the Light Horse – Available: Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Lousy Little Sixpence. Available Ronin Films, ACT

Stolen Generations. Available Ronin Films, ACT

Land of the Little Kings. Available Ronin Films, ACT

From Little Things Big Things Grow 1993, Blood Brothers series, Trevor Graham

One People Sing Freedom – The Black March 1988, ABC. Available
The Forgotten 2002, Message Stick, ABC Television
Australian Aviation Archive

Australian Museum Online: Indigenous Australia

Choose: Stories of the Dreaming

Australian War Memorial website
Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs

Choose: Information resources/Fact Sheets/Fact Sheet 8, 'Abolition of the "White Australia" Policy'

Digger History
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission website

Choose: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice/Stolen Children/ Personal stories from the report.

Useful contacts
Australian Electoral Commission, Education Section

Tel: (02) 6271 4553
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Library

Tel: (02) 6246 1111

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