Activity Introduction


Quick summary: What happens when you’re faced with a crisis? Do you lose hope, or are you stronger for it?

In this lesson, students view the feature documentary “A Fire Inside”, a documentary about the most catastrophic fires to have swept through our land in Australian history.

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

Learning intentions:

  • Students can connect their prior understanding of the Australian bushfires to key themes in the film
  • Students can identify, share and learn strategies for remaining emotionally safe when exploring challenging content
  • Students can make connections between characters and themes within a film.

21st-century skills: 

 CommunicatingCultural UnderstandingCommunity EngagementCritical ThinkingEmpathyEthical UnderstandingSocial Skills Problem Solving        

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 English: 

  • Reflect on ideas and opinions about characters, settings and events in literary texts, identify areas of agreement and difference with others and justify a point of view (ACELT1620)

Year 8 English:

  • Share, reflect on, clarify and evaluate opinions and arguments about aspects of literary texts (ACELT1627)
  • Understand and explain how combinations of words and images in texts are used to represent particular groups in society, and how texts position readers in relation to those groups (ACELT1628)

Year 9 English:

  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT163)
  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635)

Year 10 English:

  • Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)
  • Use comprehension strategies to compare and contrast information within and between texts, identifying and analysing embedded perspectives, and evaluate supporting evidence (ACELY1754).

Year 9 & 10 HPE:

  • Evaluate factors that shape identities and critically analyse how individuals impact the identities of others (ACPPS089).

Year 10 Science: 

  • Values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (ACSHE230)
  • Global systems, including the carbon cycle, rely on interactions involving the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere (ACSSU189).

Syllabus outcomes: En5-2A
Syllabus outcomes: PDHPE5.1
Syllabus outcomes: SC5-11PW, SC5-12ES

General capabilities: LiteracyIntercultural Understanding

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Relevant parts of Year 7 English achievement standards: 

By the end of Year 7, students understand how text structures can influence the complexity of a text and are dependent on audience, purpose and context. They demonstrate understanding of how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary affects meaning.

Relevant parts of Year 8 English achievement standards: 

By the end of Year 8, students understand how the selection of text structures is influenced by the selection of language mode and how this varies for different purposes and audiences. Students explain how language features, images and vocabulary are used to represent different ideas and issues in texts.

Relevant parts of Year 9 English achievement standards: 

By the end of year 9, students evaluate and integrate ideas and information from texts to form their own interpretations. They select evidence from texts to analyse and explain how language choices and conventions are used to influence an audience. They listen for ways texts position an audience.

Relevant parts of Year 10 English achievement standards: 

By the end of year 10, students show how the selection of language features can achieve precision and stylistic effect. They explain different viewpoints, attitudes and perspectives through the development of cohesive and logical arguments. They develop their own style by experimenting with language features, stylistic devices, text structures and images.

Topic: A Fire Inside

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work: A Fire Inside: Feature Documentary Years 7 to 10.

Time required: 200 minutes (includes viewing the film).

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion and prompt students’ thinking. 

Resources required:

  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Blank A3 or larger paper – enough for several small groups
  • Post-it notes, whiteboard and markers
  • Student Worksheet – one copy per student.

 Keywords: Australian bushfires, film, character analysis, arts integration, feature film, devastation, rebuilding, hope, community, resilience. 

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

AFI_2021_Photoframe_Photo4Teacher Preparation

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. 

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

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.

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ...connect with prior understanding of the key themes in the film
  • ...identify, share and learn strategies for remaining emotionally safe when exploring challenging content
  • ...make connections between characters and themes
- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Table 1

1. Character and theme analysis:

Discuss and write the key events the character faced and actions the character took throughout the documentary.

Record any thoughts or feelings you observed while watching the feature documentary.

Character's Name Key events the character faced/ actions the character took Thoughts or feelings the character shared
Nathan Barnden (Jellat RFS)
Shane Fitzsimmons RFS Commissioner
Petrea King
Barbara Stewart
Brendan O’Connor

Table 2

2. Watching the film:

Record the positive or negative feelings and thoughts you experienced while watching the feature documentary A Fire Inside:

Positive feelings and thoughts Negative feelings and thoughts

Table 3

3. Making connections between characters and themes:

How does your character show examples of or relate to the theme of hope?
How does the character show examples or relate to the theme of
- or - to view worksheets

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