Student Task Sheet: The Freedom Rides

You are going to investigate the Freedom Rides of 1965. As a group you will present an oral report to the rest of the class. You will also prepare and provide an information sheet for the other members of the class.


In 1965 a group of 30 Sydney University students made a 3,200 km bus trip to country towns in northern and western NSW, where Aboriginal children were not allowed to swim in the local swimming pool out of school hours. One student, Charles Perkins, was Aboriginal, most of the others were not.

The students wanted to find out about the lives of the Aboriginal people of these towns, and about the segregation and separation of these people from the other townspeople.

They were inspired by the Freedom Rides that were happening in the United States of America, organised by civil rights activist Martin Luther King, who believed in non-violent strategies.

Summary of reading from Discovering Democracy Upper Primary Units pp 117–18

Watch the video of the Freedom Rides and answer the following questions. You may think of more …

  • Discuss the meanings of the following words: injustice / prejudice / segregation / separation / discrimination / racism / rights / activism
  • How would you feel if you were excluded from an activity or place because people felt that you were different from them?
  • How would the Aboriginal children in the towns visited by the Freedom Rides have felt before the students came? And after they came?
  • What did the Freedom Riders hope to achieve? What strategies did they use?
  • Was their protest effective? Did they achieve their goals? How? Why?
  • What was the role of the media in the Freedom Rides?

Your group must prepare an oral report on the Freedom Rides for the rest of the class. You need to include the following:

  • What was the purpose of the Freedom Rides?
  • What inspired them?
  • Who were the Freedom Riders?
  • What was Charles Perkins' role in the Freedom Rides?
  • What role did the media have?

Each member of the group must be involved in both the preparation and presentation of the oral report, and the preparation of the information sheets for the other students.

A copy of the following will be included in your portfolio:

  • the information sheet provided to other students
  • an evaluation of your presentation
  • a group work self-evaluation.

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