Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Australia

Map for Australia
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  • People view a large sculpture of a hen sitting on the beach.
  • The giant flag mast on Parliament House Canberra, Australia.
  • Australia’shot dry land is dominated by red soil and flat, dry land stretching into the distance .
  • Pacific Islanders from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu standing on the deck of a sailing ship.
  • Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy.
  • Former Pacific Island indentured labourers waiting for deportation from Cairns, Australia, to their homes in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, 1906.
  • Row boats take Pacific Islanders out to a sailing boat floating in the distance.

Sources

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian Government
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Aid
World Bank

Case studies

Australian Pacific Islanders

Row boats take Pacific Islanders out to a sailing boat floating in the distance.
During the second half of the 19th century Pacific Islanders were vital labour for the sugar industry, but many were deported when Australia became a nation in 1901.
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Cholera in Papua New Guinea

Lack of safe drinking water and unsanitary conditions in Daru, Papua New Guinea, increase the risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases.
Provision of safe water, proper sanitation and the promotion of improved hygiene and food handling practices are the most effective ways of improving health limiting the spread of cholera.
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Globalisation and the car industry

Henry Ford introduced the assembly line that allowed for mass production leading to cars becoming more affordable.
Car manufacturing has been a global industry since its beginning. It has been a major employer and, over the last 100 years, has provided safer and more accessible transport for increasing numbers of people, including in newly industrialised countries. However car-related pollution and congestion have become an issue in many major cities.
Read more
Flag of Australia

Population:

22,683,600

GNI per capita (PPP US$):

43,300

Adult literacy rates:

99%

Access to water:

100%
Did you know?

Used on early European maps, Terra Australis means ‘southern land’.

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Geography

Physical geography

Australia is the world's smallest continent but the sixth largest country in the world (7,682,300 square kilometres). The Great Dividing Range runs north–south, separating the eastern coastal plain from the flat, dry inland. The highest point is Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 metres) in the south-east. The eastern coastal strip is fertile.

Climate

Australia’s large size provides a wide range of climatic conditions from the alpine, in the south-eastern mountains, to the tropical in the north. Temperate conditions with consistent rainfall averages are confined to the fertile, densely populated eastern coastal sectors and the south-west.

Environment

Australia's unique environment has many distinctive plants, including eucalyptus, wattles and banksias. Animals include marsupials such as kangaroo, koala and possum; the monotremes, platypus and echidna; and birds including emus, cockatoos and kookaburras.

Forests cover an estimated 19% of the total surface area, primarily on the Great Dividing Range, which stretches from north-east Queensland through New South Wales and into eastern Victoria.

Australia has a number of World Heritage listed natural sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Coast, Kakadu National Park, and Uluŗu-Kata Tjuta.

Population

The majority of the 22,683,600 people live along the eastern coast with 89% living in urban areas. Australia has one of the lowest population densities in the world, with an average of three people per square kilometre. However, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney there are 4,000 people per square kilometre. The major cities are Sydney (4.6 million people), Melbourne (4.2 million), Brisbane (2.1 million) and Perth (1.8 million).

People

Culture and identity

Australia’s Indigenous peoples have lived in the country for more than 50,000 years. There are 200–250 language groups represented across Australia, with diverse and dynamic cultures, art forms and technologies.

People of many nationalities, predominantly English, Scottish and Irish descent, have settled in Australia since 1788. More than 6.4 million people (27.7%) from over 200 countries have migrated to Australia. People born in the UK continued to be the largest group of overseas-born residents, accounting for 5.3% of Australia's total population at 30 June 2013. This was followed by persons born in New Zealand (2.6%), China (1.8%), India (1.6%) and Vietnam (0.9%).

A diverse range of art, literature, music, film, dance and theatre reflects Australia's multicultural heritage. Australians are particularly renowned for their love of sports.

Health

Australia is considered to be one of the healthiest countries in the world. Life expectancy is high, about 82 years, and the infant mortality rate low, at four per 1,000 births. Australians generally have universal access to the doctor of their choice for out-of-hospital care, free public hospital care and subsidised pharmaceuticals under a tax-funded national health insurance scheme. However, the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is much worse than the general population. About 0.1% of Australia’s total population (27,000) are living with HIV.

Religion and beliefs

Approximately 64% of the population identify as Christian and around 7% identify as one of the four main non-Christian religions: Buddhism (2.5%), Islam (2.2%) and Hinduism (1.3%) and Judaism (1%). The rest follow another or no religion.

Food and shelter

With a range of climates and a multicultural community, Australians produce and eat a wide range of foods. Cereals, dairy produce, fish, meat and poultry, and fresh fruits and vegetables form the basis of a plentiful diet. There is increasing recognition of indigenous plants and animals so bush tomatoes, wattle seeds, desert limes, quandongs, kangaroo and emu are becoming more common restaurant foods.

The most common housing style is the single-storey detached house, often on a large block of land. Australian homes are usually well-serviced with running water, gas, electricity, sewerage systems and telephones.

Economy

Wealth and poverty

Australia is a wealthy country and is able to provide high quality education and health services and social security for vulnerable groups. Yet there is a sizeable gap between rich and poor, with the highest 10% of the population earning about 25% of household income while the lowest 10% of the population earn 2%.

Education and work

Australia has a well-developed education system. Attendance at school is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16, either at a free government school or at a recognised private educational institution. A third of the labour force has a tertiary qualification.
About 65% of the population aged over 15 are in paid employment. Of these 76% work in services, while industry employs 21% and agriculture employs 3%.

Industries and products

Mining, agriculture, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals and steel are the major industries.

Trade

Australia’s main export earners include coal, iron ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery, and transport equipment. Tourism and other service exports are also important. Australia’s main export destinations are China (30%), Japan (19%), South Korea (8%), and India (5%).

Australia’s major imports include machinery and transport equipment, computers, telecommunications equipment, crude oil and petroleum products. The biggest sources of imports are China (18%), USA (12%), Japan (8%), Singapore (6%), Germany (5%) and Thailand (4%).

Government

Australia is a parliamentary democracy made up of six federated states and two territories. Australia is currently governed by the Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. As a member of the British Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II is Australia’s Head of State, represented in Australia by the Governor–General, Quentin Bryce.

Australia faces some criticism from human rights groups about the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and also about the detainment of asylum seekers.

Achievements and challenges

Australians, overall, enjoy a high standard of living and the country prides itself on its harmonious multicultural society, offering all a ‘fair go’.

Soil erosion and salinity from poor farming practices, pollution and depletion of the ozone layer from industrial development and the management and conservation of unique environments, such as the Great Barrier Reef, are some of the major environmental issues facing Australia. Cyclones along the northern coasts, severe droughts and bushfires are regular occurrences and often present serious challenges.

Exports of natural resources such as iron ore and coal provide the majority of earning but the high Australian dollar has hurt the manufacturing sector. 

Overseas assistance program

The Australian Government's overseas aid program focuses primarily on the Asia–Pacific region. It works with the governments of neighbouring countries to help them improve the way they deliver economic and community services.