Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Pacific Islanders in Australia

Year level: 9-10

Students explore 150 years of connections between Australians and people of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. They examine attitudes that led to the bringing of Pacific Islander labourers to Australia, their treatment and current contributions to Australian society and economy

Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy.

Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy. National Library of Australia, BIB 1085805


Identity and cultural diversity, Interdependence and globalisation, Peace building and conflict resolution, Social justice and human rights, Sustainable futures

Australian Curriculum links

Learning areas

History

Year 9

The role of an individual or group in the promotion of ONE of these key ideas, and the responses to it from, for example, workers, entrepreneurs, land owners, religious groups (ACDSEH087)

The experiences of slaves, convicts and free settlers upon departure, their journey abroad, and their reactions on arrival, including the Australian experience (ACDSEH083)

Changes in the way of life of a group(s) of people who moved to Australia in this period, such as free settlers on the frontier in Australia (ACDSEH084)

The short and long-term impacts of the movement of peoples during this period (ACDSEH085)

The extension of settlement, including the effects of contact (intended and unintended) between European settlers in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (ACDSEH020)

The experiences of non-Europeans in Australia prior to the 1900s (such as the Japanese, Chinese, South Sea Islanders, Afghans) (ACDSEH089)

Living and working conditions in Australia around the turn of the twentieth century (that is 1900) (ACDSEH090)

Year 10

The continuing nature of efforts to secure civil rights and freedoms in Australia and throughout the world, such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) (ACDSEH143)

The contribution of migration to Australia’s changing identity as a nation and to its international relationships (ACDSEH147)

General capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Ethical Understanding
  • Intercultural Understanding

Cross-curriculum priorities

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Activity 1: Australian Pacific Islanders

Students will examine a variety of documents and images about the work of Pacific Islanders in Australia in the 19th century.

Preparation

  • Internet access or copies of resource materials


Read  Australian Pacific Islanders.

Note
any questions that arise around the different points of view about the arrival, work and deportation of Australian Pacific Islanders.

Read/View the Australian Human Rights Commission timeline A history of Pacific Islanders in Australia.
Discuss:

  • Why were Pacific Islanders brought to Australia?
  • How were Pacific Islanders recruited?
  • How were they treated in Australia?
  • What happened in Australia that triggered the change of attitude and their deportation?
  • Which states were involved?

Note further questions for investigation.

Create your own timeline to show key events in the arrival, work and deportation of Australian Pacific Islanders.

Create
a parallel timeline outlining events and important people in Australian history such as prime ministers, settlement, population, arrivals of convict ships and events relating to the sugar industry.

Examine Pacific Islands labour flows.
Describe the movement of people and note any questions that arise.

Activity 2: Recruitment and working conditions

Students examine a collection of source documents to gain insights into the recruitment and working conditions of the indentured Pacific Islander labourers working in the sugar cane industry in the 19th century.

Preparation

  • Internet access or copies of resource materials  


Write your own definition of the terms: blackbirding, slavery, indentured labour.

Research, in small groups, the recruitment and working conditions of Pacific Islanders working in the sugar cane industry using at least three of the following links:

Form a new group of three with members who have examined different resources.
Create a presentation or role play that describes the recruitment and working conditions of Pacific Islanders from the perspectives of government, landowners and workers (note any diversity within these groups).

Discuss:
How have viewpoints changed over time?
What evidence do you have to support this change?

Debate 'Pacific Islander labourers in Queensland in the 1800s were slaves'. (Use stories and images where possible.) 

Activity 3: Deportation and descendants

Students examine source documents to gain insights into the deportation of Pacific Islander labourers at the beginning of the 20th century.

Preparation

  • Internet access or copies of resource materials


Read

Pacific Island Labourers Act Amendment Act 1884 (Qld) 
Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 (Cth)
Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (Cth) 
Migration Heritage Centre, 1901 Immigration Restriction Act 

Note the key messages contained.

Read Australian Human Rights Commission, Australian South Sea Islanders – A century of race discrimination under Australian law.
Discuss: Does this article represent a balanced view of the source documents?

Read Queensland Historical Atlas, Australian South Sea Islanders 
Discuss: How does this article represent the source documents?

Examine R9352 Barton's black labour policy, 1901 and R9351 Cartoon supporting Pacific Island Labourer's Bill, 1901.
Detail the messages contained in these cartoons.

Discuss:
How might Barton have viewed the cartoon?
How might Pacific Islanders have viewed the cartoon?

Create a two-column table showing the thinking of those who argued for and against returning Pacific Islander labourers to their islands.

Suggest reasons why some Pacific Islanders fought against being deported from Australia in 1901–1906.

Create a conversation or series of letters between someone who remained and someone who was deported.  You may find the National Library of Australia's website helpful.

Activity 4: Australian Pacific Islanders today

Students examine the lives, recognition and contributions of Australian Pacific Islanders in Australia in recent times.

Preparation

  • Internet access or copies of case studies


Examine
the stories of prominent Australian Pacific Islanders:

List any new insights these oral histories give you about the contribution of Pacific Islanders to Australia's identity and relations with Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Read the Queensland Government Recognition Statement.
Describe how the rights of Australian Pacific Islanders have been recognised in the statement.

Read/Listen to the ABC, South Sea Islanders call for an apology

Debate:

  • The statement of recognition responds adequately to the concerns raised by Australian Pacific Islanders.
  • The statement contributes to recognition of the rights outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).

Extension

Contrast the experiences of the Pacific Islanders working on the sugar plantations in the late 1800s with the experiences of people taking part in the Australian Government's Seasonal Worker Program. As background, read the ABC transcript Australia and our Pacific neighbours. Also read about training through the Australian Pacific Technical College.

Investigate: Has forced labour and discrimination occurred in other nations?
Find a story or account and compare the experiences of the labourers in countries such as the USA and India.

Compare representations of people and culture from Pacific islands with people in literary texts such as Slumdog Millionaire and 12 Years a Slave. 

 

Contributors' notes

Contribute
Contribution guidelines

(appears on page)

Cancel
Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy.
National Library of Australia, BIB 1085805
Print | Save
Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy. National Library of Australia, BIB 1085805