A Fire Inside

When a volunteer firefighter drives his car into almost certain death during the worst fires in Australian history, he does it because he ‘has a job to do’.

Three months later, the fires are out but his nightmares are just beginning. What’s tormenting him, however, isn’t the memory of flames. Turning a sensitive lens on the unprecedented devastation of Australia’s 2019/2020 ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, from a country-wide emergency to the astonishing stories of help that emerged, A FIRE INSIDE presents an inspirational look at the way people respond to crisis and its true cost to the human spirit.

Watching the Film

Before teaching the lessons, ensure you have watched the feature documentary ‘A Fire Inside’, rated MA15+ and have gained approval from parents and guardians before viewing the documentary or specific excerpts.

Students may develop heightened emotions and discomfort during the film whilst learning about the psychological effects and impact the fires had on animals, people, families, communities, and the country. It is recommended that you direct students to a school counsellor if they require additional support and read through the Handling Sensitive Topics and Issues: Handling Sensitive Topics and Issues.

To view the film you can rent or purchase an online copy from Google PlayApple TVPrime Video, or Ritz at home.


Secondary Education Resources

Visual Language – English – Years 7 to 10

Students revise key visual techniques such as size, ratio, salience, colour and symbolism. They use these strategies to analyse the emotional impact of a variety of film stills. They then analyse the combination of stills in the form of a short film clip.

Viewing the Film and Character Analysis – English – Years 7 to 10

Through media integration, students are supported to connect the film to their understanding of the themes of resilience, hope, rebuilding and community.

How did climate change contribute to the Australian bushfires? – Science – Year 8

Students revise their understanding of bushfires and their causes. The class builds upon this knowledge to make connections between climate change, and the rising intensity and frequency of bushfires in Australia.

Bushfires, climate change and the four spheres – Science – Year 10

Students consider the relationship between bushfires, climate change and the four spheres. They’re supported to consider the complexity of these relationships through scaffolded discussion and multimedia content.

The Impact of Australian Bushfires – English – Years 7 to 10

Students consider both the impacts of bushfires and strategies for responding to them. Students use clips from ‘A Fire Inside’ to deepen their understanding of the ways bushfires affect communities and the environment.

The PERMA model – HPE – Years 9 & 10

Students identify aspects of positive relationships and examine their impact on an individual’s wellbeing. Using the information they have gained in the lesson, students work together to make proposals to improve wellbeing at their school

The Importance of Seeking and Offering Help – HPE
– Years 9 & 10

Students will consider the importance of seeking help and articulate their existing support networks. Students will then create campaigns to support communities in need of help and address ways to gain support.

Investigating the reasons why humans help – English
– Year 10

Students make connections between this theme and the characterisation of various key people in the feature documentary ‘A Fire Inside’. These inferences are then used to make larger statements about what it truly means to be altruistic.

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With Thanks to Our Partner


This lesson has been developed in partnership with Finch. Founded in 2011, Finch is an independent film production company that makes meaningful, beautifully crafted documentaries, television and feature films of lasting significance.

© 2021 Finch and Cool Australia.

Cool Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to land, water and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and to Elders past, present and emerging.