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21 October 2020

Australia’s national Defining Moments Digital Classroom is a game changer

The National Museum of Australia, in partnership with Gandel Philanthropy, has launched a pioneering digital initiative which will take Australian history into classrooms around the country.

Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom (ADMDC) is an innovative teaching and learning website which offers rich resources for teachers and students of Australian History, Geography and Civics and Citizenship.

In a year which has highlighted the value of online learning for students forced to study from home due to COVID-19, this unparalleled initiative is a resource for its time as it brings Australian history alive in the digital age and elevates the exploration of our national story in the classroom.

Students, primary and secondary, can explore Australian history via interactive online games and quizzes, animations, videos and virtual tours, plus teaching and learning activities, delivered to schools via a range of digital devices.

The freely available ADMDC draws on the National Museum’s highly respected Defining Moments in Australian History project, and was made possible by the generous $1.5 million donation by John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC in 2018 to support the unprecedented education initiative.

Dr Mathew Trinca, National Museum Director, said the ADMDC is the classroom of the future. 'It will empower teachers with information at their fingertips and inspire young people to embrace history and engage with the nation’s story in new and innovative ways,' Dr Trinca said.

Mr and Mrs Gandel said: 'We are proud to have collaborated with the National Museum on this flagship grant. Much of our giving through Gandel Philanthropy is about providing opportunity for children across Australia, helping them to reach their potential. We believe this is something that will be realised through the ADMDC.'

David Arnold, Program Manager of Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom, said: 'A key element of the ADMDC is learning through direct experience and play. Students will develop research skills, begin to understand the significance of defining moments in history, and have the opportunity to reflect upon their knowledge.'

‘The main aim of interactives is to encourage students to investigate and record what they consider to be defining moments in Australian history through the National Museum of Australia’s Landmarks gallery, their own life and their family’s history, and the history of their local community,’ Mr Arnold said.

Marissa Beard, Schools and Engagement Manager, said, 'This is an excellent one-stop shop for all areas of history content when students need reliable and trustworthy sources.'

The ADMDC includes numerous historic archival film clips from the National Film and Sound Archive.

Chief Engagement Officer at the Archive, Matt Ravier, said, ‘We are thrilled to have selected and contributed more than 50 titles from our collection. This footage brings to vivid life the moments that shaped us as a nation, empowering students to engage with our living memory and discover how history can inform their role as active citizens and builders of Australia’s future.’

Popular historian David Hunt has produced eight animated defining moments which will be used extensively on the ADMDC site to further engage students.

Significant defining moments include:

  • 65,000+ years ago: Evidence of first peoples
  • 1788: Arrival of the First Fleet
  • 1792: Pemulwuy resists the colonists
  • 1851: Gold rushes in New South Wales and Victoria begin
  • 1872: Free, compulsory and secular education
  • 1880: Ned Kelly’s last stand
  • 1901: Federation of the Australian colonies
  • 1902: Women granted the vote in federal elections
  • 1915: Australian troops land at Gallipoli
  • 1919: Influenza pandemic reaches Australia
  • 1928: Bradman’s first century
  • 1967: Indigenous referendum
  • 1976: First arrival of Vietnamese refugees by boat
  • 1978: First gay Mardi Gras
  • 2000: Cathy Freeman lights the Sydney Olympic flame and wins the 400m
  • 2009: Black Saturday bushfires
  • 2010: First female prime minister and governor-general

Explore Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom at:

About Australia's Defining Moments Digital Classroom

Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom (ADMDC) is a pioneering educational website which will transform Australian students’ online history learning experience. It will engage students through interactive activities that make history and social sciences exciting, accessible and relevant. The website will be freely accessible to all students, primary and secondary, and its content aligns with the Australian curriculum.

The ADMDC provides teachers with classroom-ready digital resources including:

  • An engaging, interactive timeline of Australian history
  • More than 120 Defining Moment stories with embedded questions, critical thinking activities and research tasks
  • A virtual museum visit to the Landmarks: People and Places across Australia gallery at the National Museum of Australia
  • Flexible, ready-to-use learning modules and activities that address key topics in the Australian Curriculum
  • Learning resources written by practising classroom teachers
  • Games and interactives that provide fun, engaging and challenging opportunities to learn
  • Over 100 videos, including over 50 archival film clips from the National Film and Sound Archive
  • Interactive and topic-themed quizzes
  • A library of more than 1000 images, including historical photographs, artworks and maps

In addition, students are encouraged to investigate, share and record what they consider to be defining moments in their own lives and their family’s history and in the history of their local community.


Defining Moments in Australian History is the National Museum of Australia’s respected Australian history online outreach project which explores key moments that have shaped Australian history, culture and identity.

Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom takes Defining Moments in Australian History into school classrooms across the country, bringing Australian history alive for students in a truly engaging, rigorous and innovative way; a new digital resource for the classrooms of today and tomorrow.

Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom was made possible by a generous donation of $1.5 million by John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC.

This program is grounded in the knowledge that the Defining Moments website is already a vital resource in many classrooms. Statistics show the website has approximately 660,000 page views annually, mostly during school term-time; visitor numbers have doubled each year since it was launched in May 2015.

Media contact: Diana Streak (02) 6208 5091 or 0409 888 976 |

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