Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students explore the personal qualities and strategies that can be used when having difficult conversations. They begin by creating a mind-map of personal qualities used to improve difficult conversations and then identify some of these qualities and the strategies used to employ these qualities in a clip from the documentary Dying To Live. Students then work in groups to create a poster about personal qualities and strategies to share with the class. Finally, students are invited to imagine they are preparing to have a difficult conversation about organ and tissue donation with their families and to create a script for this conversation that incorporates personal qualities and strategies.

Dying To Live is a documentary feature film that examines organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Australia through seven different stories that highlight the social, physical and emotional effects of being on the organ donor waiting list. The film also aims to dispel myths about organ and tissue donation while encouraging family conversations, so that family members are aware of their loved ones’ donation intentions. Find out how to screen or view the film here.


Learning intentions:

  • Students understand what personal qualities can be helpful when having difficult conversations.
  • Students understand that certain strategies can be strengthen the impact of personal qualities.

21st century skills: 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 & 8 Health and Physical Education

  • Investigate the benefits of relationships and examine their impact on their own and others’ health and wellbeing (ACPPS074)
  • Analyse factors that influence emotions, and develop strategies to demonstrate empathy and sensitivity (ACPPS075)
  • Evaluate health information and communicate their own and others’ health concerns (ACPPS076)

Syllabus outcomes: PDHPE4.3, PDHPE4.8, PDHPE4.11, PDHPE4.13, PDHPE4.16.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, Intercultural Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures OI.8.

Relevant parts of 7 & 8 Health and Physical Education achievement standards: Students analyse factors that influence emotional responses. They investigate strategies and practices that enhance their own, others’ and community health, safety and wellbeing. 

Topic: Social Issues, Learning Through Film 

Unit of work: Dying To Live – H&PE – Years 7–10

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Facilitate discussions and oversee poster-making activity.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video to the class. Poster making materials. Poster Assessment Rubric. Butcher’s paper and pens, or devices with mind-mapping software (for brainstorming). Individual (or group) online devices for additional research and image-sourcing (optional). 

Related Professional Development:  Exploring General Capabilities: Ethical Understanding

Keywords: Dying To Live, organ and tissue donation, conversation, personal qualities.

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

Cool Australia, Aquarius Productions and Intrinsic Story would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of GoodPitch² Australia, Shark Island Institute, and Documentary Australia Foundation in the development of these teaching resources.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Learning intentions:

Students will…

  • …understand what personal qualities can be helpful when having difficult conversations.
  • …understand that certain strategies can strengthen the impact of personal qualities.

Success criteria:

Students can…

  • …create a mind-map.
  • …write and annotate a script.
  • …analyse a clip.
  • …work collaboratively.
  • …engage in group and class discussions.

Teacher content information: Organ and tissue donation are not always easy topics for discussion. However, with an average of 1,500 Australians on the transplant waiting list, increasing rates of donation is vitally important: a donation can both save and improve lives.

Although the majority of Australians (69%) are generally willing to become organ and/or tissue donors, only 1 in 3 have registered to become donors. And because families have the final say about whether someone donates their organs or tissues, conversations about the intentions of loved ones are critical. W

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Around 1,400 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists at any time.

Part A: Personal qualities for a difficult conversation

Consider the following question and record your responses below:

  • Why do we need strategies for engaging in difficult conversations?

My response:

Part B: Identifying personal qualities

Step 1. Consider the clip you watched about Kate's journey with organ donation and answer the following questions (you could work in groups or as a class to answer these questions – check with your teacher):

1. What difficult conversations did you identify in this clip?

2. What did you find interesting about the way people had these conversations?

3. What personal qualities did the people in the clip use in these difficult conversations?

4. Did you identify any other personal qualities not included in your mind-map? Which ones and how were they used?

5. What strategies did they appear to use when employing these qualities (for

- or - to view worksheets

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