Australian History

Over the last two hundred years the history of European settlement in Australia has brought radical changes for the descendants of both the original Aboriginal inhabitants and the incoming colonists. From 1788 onwards people, ideas and events created colonial societies and eventually a new nation that confronted significant challenges and changes in its first century of existence. Transformations in Australia’s history have occurred sometimes chaotically in response to a sudden rush for land or gold and at other times in a debated and planned fashion, as in the creation of what was, in the early twentieth century, an advanced democracy. Over this time, crises and movements have also led governments and people to modify the status quo to confront critical challenges to the stability and defence of the nation.

In VCE Australian History students explore four periods of time which span some of the transformative events and processes that developed and changed the nature of Australian society and created modern Australia. The first slice of time begins in the 1830s with the expansion of European control over much of southern Australia as squatters appropriated country inhabited by Aboriginal peoples. The remaining three time periods consider transformations undergone by the new Australian nation in the twentieth century.

Unit 3 Transformations: Colonial Society to Nation

Students explore the transformation of the Port Phillip District (later Victoria) from the 1830s through to the end of the tumultuous gold rush decade in 1860. They consider the dramatic changes introduced as the British colonisers swiftly established themselves, taking possession of the land and then it’s newly discovered mineral riches.

Students examine transformations in the way of life of the Aboriginal peoples and to the environment as the European society consolidated itself. They also consider how new visions for the future created by the gold rush and the Eureka rebellion further transformed the new colony.

Students explore the type of society Australians attempted to create in the early years of the newly federated nation. Much of the legislation debated and passed by the Commonwealth Parliament was relatively advanced and Australia was seen as a social laboratory exploring new forms of rights and benefits for its citizens. Students evaluate the effect that Australian involvement in World War One had on the country’s egalitarian and socially progressive aspirations.


  1. Analyse the nature of change in the Port Phillip District/Victoria in the period 1834–1860.
  2. Analyse the visions and actions that shaped the new nation from 1890 to 1920, and the changes and continuities to these visions that resulted from participation in World War One


Unit 4 Transformations: Old Certainties and New Visions

Students investigate the continuing development of the nation in the early part of the twentieth century and the dramatic changes that occurred in the latter part of the century. After World War One the process of nation building was renewed. However, world events soon intruded again into the lives of all Australians. The economic crisis of the 1930s followed by another world war redirected the nation’s priorities for a time as it struggled to regain economic stability and defeat its military enemies. The experience of both the Depression and World War Two gave rise to renewed thinking by Australians about how to achieve the type of society envisaged at the time of Federation. In Area of Study 1 students investigate The Great Depression 1929 –1939.

In Area of Study 2 students explore social, economic and political changes in the latter part of the twentieth century that collectively challenged and/or overturned much of Australia’s earlier carefully constructed social and economic fabric. Students examine two changes drawn from: Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, Aboriginal land rights, equality for women, new patterns of immigration and/or a global economy.



  1. Analyse the social, economic and political consequences of a crisis on the nation.
  2. Able to analyse and evaluate two key social, economic and political changes in late twentieth century Australia.




Units 3 and 4

  • Unit 3 School Assessed Coursework: 25%
  • Unit 4 School Assessed Coursework: 25%
  • End of Year Examination: 50%

Contact Teacher - Amanda Leveridge