Teacher Information and Additional Resources

Teacher Information

As human beings, we all want to enjoy those rights which contribute to our freedom, independence, security and sense of belonging. But how do we define ‘human rights’? Are there different types of human rights? Are they the same for all people and all societies and cultures, and who should decide which ones we include and exclude? Are there some that are always fundamental and essential?

This unit will address these questions by exploring how the rights of the individual came to be, Australia’s historical record of human rights, and emerging challenges to human rights on a global scale in the 21st century. Students will have the opportunity to work in groups and discuss the beginning of human rights and how the concept has changed over time to become more inclusive and specific. Students are also encouraged to think critically about a ‘globally implemented system’ of human rights for all people and the potential advantages and disadvantages for individuals, societies and cultures.  

Curriculum links

Links to the Australian Curriculum

Learning outcomes

The National Digital Learning Resource Network

Access to the National Digital Learning Resource Network digital content is available through your education body's licensing agreement with Education Services Australia.

Content About Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Please be aware that The National Digital Learning Resource Network’s digital learning objects, Australian Screen’s clips and the Apology to the Stolen Generations of Australia contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have passed away. This may cause distress to some Indigenous students. 

Additional Resources

Additional resources for each area of study are listed below:

Focus Question 1: What Are Human Rights?

Value Placed on Human Rights (Task 2)

Hanic is an imaginary country based on Confucian values. This value system stresses the importance of the group above the individual and therefore raises the question of whether Western-based individualist ‘universal’ rights are really universal, or whether human rights are culturally based. This issue is raised again in Where Do Human Rights Come From?

Definition of Human Rights


Additional or alternative case studies of abuses of human rights can be provided to students.


The following films or selected scenes can be shown to students as case studies of human rights violations. Australian Government Classifications have been provided and teachers are advised to visit the Australian Government’s Classification website to judge the suitability of the films for their students.

Focus Question 2: Where Do Human Rights Come From?


United Nations

The full version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may be used as an additional reference in the classroom.

Digital Learning Object

Know your rights: five missions (TLF-ID L1348)

Assessment Task


For suggestions about the digital movie-making process, visit sites such as:

Tools that enable students to publish slideshow presentations online include:

The students’ digital movies and photographic essays can be published online to video-sharing websites such as:

Focus Question 3: How Do We Characterise Human Rights in Australia?

Activity 3a: Establishing and Protecting Human Rights in Australia (Task 3)

The High Court in this case decided that not having a lawyer did create an unfair trial. They decided that he should have a retrial, but that the trial would not be allowed until he could afford a lawyer or had one appointed by legal aid. In deciding this, the judges reversed the earlier decision of the High Court, in effect saying that it was a bad decision.

Digital Learning Object

  • Changing faces: three interviews (TLF-ID L1010) 

Activity 3b: The Rights of Indigenous Australians

The materials included in the Indigenous Australians’ rights tasks are highly selective. This is a sensitive topic which teachers need to be prepared for. The focus is on civil and political rights. Teachers may want to broaden this scope to consider:

  • whether having citizenship rights in theory means that these rights are actually able to be exercised

  • whether Indigenous people need positive discrimination to help create equality.

Digital Learning Objects

  • Making a difference: The Day of Mourning Protesters (TLF-ID L5207)

  • Making a difference: Pat O’Shane (TLF-ID L5214) 

Activity 3c: Applying a Bill of Rights

Digital Learning Object

  • Human rights (TLF-ID L9522) 

Assessment Task

There have been two major attempts to change the Australian Constitution by referendum to provide a limited extension of the existing freedoms established in the constitution. These were rejected in 1944 and 1988.


In addition to the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, this website provides information about the following states’ deliberations over establishing a Bill of Rights:

  • Queensland – Rejection of a Bill of Rights (1998)

  • Tasmania – Examination of a Bill of Rights (2006)

  • Western Australia – Examination of a Bill of Rights (2007)

Excerpts of information linked from this website may be useful for students’ cases for and against establishing an Australian Bill of Rights. 

Focus Question 4: How Do We Preserve and Improve Human Rights?

Activity 4a: Globalisation, Internationalism and Human Rights

Show your students the clip Fair-trade soccer balls, on the teachfind website, from the 12-minute mark. At this point in the clip a teacher is showing her class an eight and a half minute video about fair-trade soccer balls. The remainder of the clip shows the class discussion that followed the video clip and the action that students took to introduce fair-trade soccer balls to their school.

For the teacher | Human Rights Introduction | 1: What Are Human Rights? | 2: Where Do Human Rights Come From? | 3: How Do We Characterise Human Rights in Australia? | 4: How Do We Preserve and Improve Human Rights? 

Overview of activities:  Focus Question 1Focus Question 2 | Focus Question 3 | Focus Question 4

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