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How does Old Masters help us understand the Yirrkala petition?

Curriculum areas: Australian history, Indigenous culture & history

Years: 10

What rights and freedoms does living in a democracy entitle us to? What actions do people sometimes take when they believe their rights and freedoms do not exist or are less than others?

This case study draws on content from the Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. It contextualises the Yirrkala petitions, the first documents bridging Commonwealth law and Indigenous laws of the land, by examining the symbolism and stories in the artworks and considering what they can tell us about Yolngu life, culture, law and connection with country.

This unit of work relates closely to the Australian Curriculum History Year 10. It focuses on rights and freedoms and methods used by civil rights activists to achieve change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The unit is available in two formats:

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