Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will begin by assessing the impact that they think the media has on their view of people experiencing homelessness. They will read and summarise an article that uses evidence to argue that the media can impact people’s perspectives. Students will work in groups to read a mainstream media article about homelessness, and critically interpret it through a Chalk-Talk visible thinking routine. The class will then view one or more clips from Life After The Oasis documentary film and assert whether media representations of people experiencing homelessness have had an impact on the people featured. The lesson will conclude with students summarising whether their understanding of the impact of the media has changed.

Life After The Oasis is a 75 minute documentary that explores the issues, interventions and mindsets associated with youth homelessness in Australia. The film revisits characters and stories from the original 2008 documentary The Oasis, and how opportunities and experiences have shaped their lives over the last ten years. Find out how to screen or view the film here.

Warning: The documentary and the clips contained in this lesson, contains explicit language, images of drug use and confronting scenes and may upset some viewers. Teachers should use their personal discretion when showing the documentary. This resource deals with the rising problem of youth homelessness and its associated social and personal issues. There may be students in your class who have experienced some of the issues discussed. You are encouraged to arrive at a set of agreements and ground rules for discussion with your class about the best way to approach the issues being covered in a way that recognises the dignity of our fellow classmates. Click here for tips on setting ground rules for class discussions and here for advice on how to handle sensitive topics and controversial issues in your classroom.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand and interpret the use of language in media and how this constructs meaning for the reader.
  • Students understand the impact of media representations on the way people view and treat each other.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 English

  • Analyse how the construction and interpretation of texts, including media texts, can be influenced by cultural perspectives and other texts (ACELY1739)
  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts (ACELY1742)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse texts, comparing and evaluating representations of an event, issue, situation or character in different texts (ACELY1744)

Year 10 English

  • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)
  • Identify and analyse implicit or explicit values, beliefs and assumptions in texts and how these are influenced by purposes and likely audiences (ACELY1752)
  • Use comprehension strategies to compare and contrast information within and between texts, identifying and analysing embedded perspectives, and evaluating supporting evidence (ACELY1754)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-8D, EN5-2A.

General capabilities: LiteracyEthical Understanding, Critical and Creative ThinkingPersonal and Social capability,

Relevant parts of Year 9 achievement standards: Students analyse the ways that text structures can be manipulated for effect. They 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. Students create texts that respond to issues, interpreting and integrating ideas from other texts. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, comparing and evaluating responses to ideas and issues.

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: Students develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. Students create a wide range of texts to articulate complex ideas. They contribute actively to class and group discussions, building on others’ ideas, solving problems, justifying opinions and developing and expanding arguments.

Topic: Social Issues

Unit of work: Life After The Oasis – English

Time required:  90 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video to the class. Handling Sensitive Topics And Controversial Issues Factsheet (Optional). Web-enabled devices (one per student) OR printed copies of articles linked in the lesson. Chalk-Talk Prompts (printed, one set per group). Article: “A Mixed Bag Of Media On Homelessness” (one per student).

Keywords: Homelessness, homeless, lived experience, youth, media, influence, fairness,  equality, fair go, The Oasis.

Shark Island Productions and Cool Australia would like to acknowledge the generous contribution of The Caledonia Foundation to the development of these resources.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will ... 

  • ... understand and interpret the use of language in media and how this constructs meaning for the reader.
  • ... understand the impact of media representations on the way people view and treat each other.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... identify language used to represent a group of people in a media article.
  • ... make assertions about the effect of language upon the reader's viewpoint.

Teacher content information: On any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are experiencing homelessness. This alarming statistic raises many questions about homelessness in Australia and what is being done by government and non-government institutions to combat the problem. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines a person to be homeless when they do not have suitable accommodation alternatives and their current living arrangement:

  • is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or
  • has no tenure, or if their initial
- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Media coverage of homelessness is a mixed bag.

Your View On People Experiencing Homelessness

How much does the media impact on your view of people experiencing homelessness?

  • 1 = The media has no impact at all on my view of people experiencing homelessness.
  • 10 = My view of people experiencing homelessness is 100% formed based on what I see and read in the media.

Circle or highlight one:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

After reading the article “A Mixed Bag Of Media On Homelessness”, by Lanie Harris and Cathy Beadnell, use a different coloured pen to respond to the question (above) again. Then, describe why your response did or did not change in the space below. 

Critical Reading of Articles About Homelessness

Highlight the article that has been allocated to your group. 

- or - to view worksheets

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