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World War 2
Officers from Curriculum K-12 Directorate have been working with a number of schools on a programming project. The purpose of the project has been to take the programming focus off the restrictive, often slavish, following of every dot point in the old syllabuses to focus on the big picture learning and to incorporate the elements of the Quality teaching document into student tasks to increase the significance of the learning for students.
The programs are NOT lesson plans and do not contain the excessive detail and overlays of some programs that have developed in the HSIE subjects. They have a simple format that provides a small number of large tasks to cover the learn about and learn to statements for each topic.
In using these programs students take more responsibility for their learning, work more in groups and have greater choice about what case studies and examples they engage. Teachers can act more as facilitators, but will still need to intervene in the learning to teach explicitly concepts, skills and terminology when students find difficulty within particular tasks. All the tasks can be used for assessment for or assessment of learning purposes. Teachers can use the tasks to provide feedback to students and assess the products and processes of the task for the purpose of recording data that will be used for school reporting purposes. When using the tasks in these ways for assessment, there is no need to create additional assessment tasks and end of topic tests are not needed because teachers will have already the assessment information needed for school reporting.
Schools can add their own resources and vary the ICT suggestions, within the syllabus requirements, to match their school resources. While every attempt has been made to cover all the syllabus requirements, the units have not as yet been trialled in classrooms. Feedback is welcomed and adjustments will be made to improve the units in response to feedback. Watch for updates.

John Gore


Topic 4

Australia and World War 2


Inquiry questions

  • Why was Australia involved in World War 2?

  • What were some of the experiences of Australians as a result of their involvement in the war?

  • What was the impact of the war on the Australian home front?

  • How did Australia’s relationship with Britain and the USA change during World War 2?


    1. assesses the impact of international events and relationships on Australia’s history

    2. explains the changing rights and freedoms of Aboriginal peoples and other groups in Australia

5.4 sequences major historical events to show an understanding of continuity, change and causation

5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources

5.7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past

Suggested ICT

  • create a formatted, multi-paged document as part of an historical inquiry.

Resources :

  • Defence of Australia – Anzac Day Education Resource – World War 2 - 2002, Commonwealth Dept of Veterans Affairs, PO BOX 21, Woden. ACT. 2606.

  • The Spirit of Anzac – Investigating a century of Army service – 1901 – 2001:Evidence and Activities. 2000 Australian Army, Ryebuck Media Pty Ltd. Commemorations Branch, Dept of Veterans Affairs, PO BOX 21, Woden. ACT. 2606.

  • Standard Stage 5 History Textbooks.

  • Websites: War Memorial site (Dept of Veterans Affairs) (compliments the TV series) Hard copies of the Australians at War Education Resource are available from the Australian War Memorial shop or through its online shop at: for $25.00 each.
Secondary Schools - Code 12453

For enquiries concerning ordering, contact the sales unit on:

Telephone: (02) 6243 4438 Facsimile: (02) 6243 4469 E-mail:
Suggested site studies include:

  • a local or national war memorial site

  • a local site

  • a virtual site of a theatre of war/event in World War II

  • a museum study.

Learn Abouts

Learn Tos

Assessment: The activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all assessment for learning activities. Some activities might be selected and included in a school assessment schedule for assessment of learning.

  • Australia’s involvement in WWII

  • explain the reasons for Australia’s involvement in WWII

Teacher note:

A Glossary of terms may need to be created at the beginning of the unit and added to as per need. E.g. Appeasement, Australian Imperial Force (AIF), Blitzkrieg, Censorship, Communism, Conscription, Enlistment, Fascism, Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angels, Lebensraum, Militarism, Nazi, Propaganda, Rationing, Reparations.

Revise some terms from the WW1 unit that may be relevant.
Task 1. This is a variation on Task 1 outlined in Topic 2 (Australia and World War 1). If the class did this activity in Topic 2, the class can build on the knowledge obtained on WW1 and determine how the reasons for Australia’s involvement in WW2 were similar/different to WW1. Alternatively, this activity can be completed on WW2 alone.


Task 1. Mapping and Research
As a background to Australia’s involvement in World War 2, you will be researching the reasons why countries went to war. You will be divided into groups and your group will be allocated a country to research from the following list: Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Turkey and USSR

1. Answer the following questions:

  • Where is this country situated on a map?

  • What reasons did this country have to go to war?

  • Who was the leader of this country?

  • Who were their allies?

  • What involvement did it have in the war?

2. Divide an A4 sheet of paper horizontally. Write your answers to these questions on one half of the paper. On the other half of the paper, write the name of your country in large letters. When asked by the teacher, display your poster on the classroom wall.

3) Complete the Handout Countries in World War 2, by obtaining answers from other students’ displays.

Task 2. Research task

1. Using your textbook, the Internet and other resources find out why Australia became involved in WW2. You will need to consider the following:

  • Australia’s relationship with Britain.

  • Young men’s sense of adventure.

  • Perceived threats from overseas.

  • People’s views of war.

  • Pay and working conditions in 1930s.

  • Feelings of pride and bravery.

  • The enlistment campaign by the Australian government.

2. Find some examples of recruitment posters from WW2 by using your library or the following websites:




Look at how the posters are set out and consider how they try to encourage young men to enlist in the armed forces.

Explain why these posters were designed this way?

  • the experiences of Australians serving in WWII, with particular emphasis on ONE of the following:

    • Kokoda or another New Guinea campaign

    • prisoners of war

    • a campaign in another theatre of war

    • Australian nurses serving in the war

    • identify the places where Australians fought in WW2

  • the impact of the war on Australian civilians with a particular emphasis on ONE of the following:

    • bombing of Darwin

    • Japanese submarine attack on Sydney

    • internment of ‘enemy aliens’

    • significant local event or issue

    • describe the experiences of Australians serving in WWII, with emphasis on the chosen study

  • explain the impact of the war on Australian civilians with a particular emphasis on the chosen event or issue

  • wartime government controls including:

  • conscription

  • manpower controls

  • rationing

  • censorship

  • describe the controls on civilian life imposed by the wartime government

  • outline the arguments for and against such controls in wartime.

  • the changing roles of Australian women in WW2

  • Australia’s changing relations with Britain and the USA during WWII

  • describe the changing roles of women during WWII

  • explain how and why Australia’s relationship with Britain and the USA changed during WW2

Task 3. PowerPoint presentation
1. Form groups of 4, and select ONE of the following:

  • Kokoda or another New Guinea campaign eg Milne bay

  • Prisoners of war, eg Changi, Burma

  • campaign in another theatre of war, eg

  • North African campaign (Rats of Tobruk, El Alamein)

  • Middle East

  • Mediterranean (Greece and Crete)

  • European campaigns in Britain, France,

  • fall of Singapore,

  • war in the Pacific eg Coral Sea

  • Australian nurses – served in all major conflicts.

2. Prepare a PowerPoint presentation on your selected area. Your presentation should provide the following information:

  • A map showing where the Australians were fighting.

  • Dates of their involvement.

  • Who the Australians were fighting.

  • An outline of the major events in this conflict.

  • The significant experiences of the participants, eg, dangers, hardships, living conditions, injuries and casualties,

  • The commanders in this conflict. Were they good leaders? How and Why?

  • Primary sources to illustrate your subject.

  • What was the outcome of this conflict?

  • How your subject contributed to the war effort.

    Task 4. Empathy task – Letter

    1. Select one of the following to consider the impacts on Australian civilian life during WW2.

    • bombing of Darwin

    • Japanese submarine attack on Sydney

    • internment of ‘enemy aliens’

    • a significant local event or issue eg conscription, censorship, rationing, the Black market, changing women’s roles eg the land army.

2. For your selected topic, use your textbook, the Internet and other resources to research the effects on civilian life.
3. Iimagine you are one of those civilians living during WW2. Write a letter to a friend overseas describing your experiences. You should include:

  • A description of the event or issue.

  • A description of how this event or issue has changed your life. (Consider how life was before this event or issue)

  • Descriptions of how you feel about these changes.

  • Historical terms appropriate to the time period.

Task 5. TV Panel Interview
1. Working In groups of 4, list some of the controls (information, censorship, movement) that were placed on the Australian people during WW2. Draw up three columns and in column one name the control, in column two explain Why the control was introduced? And in column three What impact did it have on the civilian population?

2. Create an interview for post WW2 radio, where the government minister responsible for these controls in WW2 is being interviewed about his government’s policy.

The radio Panel will consist of:

- the Journalist asking the questions,

- the government minister

- a panel member who is hostile to the minister

- a panel member who is sympathetic to the government minister

  • Your group will need to create questions and answers for each of the panel members that show the opinion of each panel member, except for the Journalist who should be unbiased. The reasons for and against controls should be examined.

  • Your interview should also include some argument between members with opposing opinions. Each member will be trying to prove and justify his/her opinion. Therefore, your group should try to supply some historical evidence based on your research to support their opinions.

3. Present this interview to the class as a role-play.

    Task 6 Speech

1. Using your textbook, the Internet and other resources find out about the changing roles of women during WW2 and how Australia was drawn closer to the USA and away from Britain.
2. Imagine you are a politician in 1947 who is speaking to a group of high school students at a speech day about the changes that occurred during WW2 to the role of women and the now changed relationship between Australia, the USA and Britain.
Write a speech of about 350 words (two pages),

Include in your speech historical evidence where possible. Use historical terms and phrases appropriate to the time and present a coherent argument.

Some students will be asked to read their speech to the class.

Countries in World War 2


Reasons for war



Reasons for alliances









HSIE AND STAGE 5 January 2005 Page of

NSW Department of Education and Training

Curriculum K-12

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