Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students watch a series of videos to gain a historical perspective of strategies used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in managing Country with fire. They write a fictional newspaper article using a range of online resources. Students build a deeper understanding of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and scientists can revitalise cool burning practices to substantially reduce carbon emissions.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand the cultural and environmental benefits of using cool burning to manage Country.

21st century skills: 

Communicating Creative Thinking Critical ThinkingCultural Understanding  

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 7 History: 

  • The nature of the sources for ancient Australia and what they reveal about Australia’s past in the ancient period, such as the use of resources (ACDSEH031)
  • Identify the origin and purpose of primary and secondary sources (ACHHS209)

Year 7 English:

  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725)

Syllabus outcomes: EN4-4B, HT4-5

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Literacy, Intercultural Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priorities:

Relevant parts of Year 7 History achievement standards: Students suggest reasons for change and continuity over time. They identify and select a range of sources and locate, compare and use information to answer inquiry questions.

Relevant parts of Year 7 English achievement standards: Students create structured and coherent texts for a range of purposes and audiences.

Topic: Cool Burning, Indigenous Education.

Unit of work: Cool Burning – Secondary.

Time required: 90 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – introduce new content, assist with student research, confirm they understand the communication project, assess student outcomes.

Resources required:

Related professional development: 

Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, resources, wildfire, bushfire, cool burns, seasons, adaptation, savanna, ecology.

Special thanks to:

Fish River Station, John Daly, Dr Jeremy Russell-Smith, Peter Jacklyn, Peter McConchie, Dr Tommy George, David Claudie, Dale Musgrave, Carolyn George and Victor Steffensen.

Cool Australia would like to acknowledge the support of the Bennelong Foundation in updating these lessons.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum. There is great diversity in histories and cultures among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia. This resource includes investigations into and information about some of them. It has an emphasis, but not an exclusive one, on the histories and cultural practices of the Aboriginal peoples of the Northern Territory. It is underpinned by consultation with Aboriginal communities in various parts of Australia. 


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • … understand the cultural and environmental benefits of using cool burning to manage Country.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... participate in group and class discussions
  • ... write a news article
  • ... work collaboratively and independently.

Teacher content information: In Australia, 23-25% of the land is covered in tropical savanna. Each year in the late dry season, hot fires sweep through a large proportion of this area. Hot burns result in about 25% of the landscape being burnt, which contributes between 1% and 3% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions (Note: this figure just accounts for nitrous oxide and methane rather than the total emissions that includes any carbon dioxide not absorbed by new growth.). Before European contact, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the tropical savanna managed Country using fire during the early dry season. Over the past ten years Aboriginal and Torres Str

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: "Australia’s Black Summer was unprecedented in scale and harm. The bushfire season was the worst on record for New South Wales in terms of the scale of the bushfires, the number of properties lost and the amount of area burned." - Climate Council

Learning Through Story

Watch the following clips and complete the 3-2-1 thinking routine below:

Clip 1: Traditional knowledge is the solution -

Clip 2: Historical burning -

Clip 3: Working with scientists -

Respond to the clips using the prompts below:

What are three thoughts you have about the history of cool burning?

What are two questions you have about cool burning?

What is one issue you have identified about cool burning?

Investigating The Issues

You will now work in groups or pairs to write a short newspaper article based on one of the clips viewed earlier. You need to write

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