Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students build an understanding of the value of stories and storytelling. They will watch one or multiple clips from Life After The Oasis documentary film and consider whether their personal views have been influenced by the story in each, then engage in a teacher-facilitated class discussion about stories. Students will explore the biography genre of storytelling by investigating key features of a biography, relating their understanding to biographical texts they have encountered, and plotting the key life events of a person featured in a Life After The Oasis clip. Students will then apply their learning to plan, research, draft and publish their own biographical text.

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 will understand the value of storytelling.
  • Students will understand the features of a biography text type.
  • Students will make connections to real-world experiences.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

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 (ACELT1635)
  • Analyse text structures and language features of literary texts, and make relevant comparisons with other texts (ACELT1772)
  • Create literary texts, including hybrid texts, that innovate on aspects of other texts, for example by using parody, allusion and appropriation (ACELT1773)
  • Review and edit students’ own and others’ texts to improve clarity and control over content, organisation, paragraphing, sentence structure, vocabulary and audio/visual features (ACELY1747)

Year 10 English

  • Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)
  • Analyse and evaluate text structures and language features of literary texts and make relevant thematic and intertextual connections with other texts (ACELT1774)
  • Create literary texts with a sustained ‘voice’, selecting and adapting appropriate text structures, literary devices, language, auditory and visual structures and features for a specific purpose and intended audience (ACELT1815)
  • Review, edit and refine students’ own and others’ texts for control of content, organisation, sentence structure, vocabulary, and/or visual features to achieve particular purposes and effects (ACELY1757)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-7D, EN5-6C, EN5-2A, EN5-3B.

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. Students understand how to use a variety of language features to create different levels of meaning. In creating texts, students demonstrate how manipulating language features and images can create innovative texts. Students create texts that respond to issues, interpreting and integrating ideas from other texts. They edit for effect, selecting vocabulary and grammar that contribute to the precision and persuasiveness of texts and using accurate spelling and punctuation.

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: Students evaluate how text structures can be used in innovative ways by different authors. Students show how the selection of language features can achieve precision and stylistic effect. They develop their own style by experimenting with language features, stylistic devices, text structures and images. Students create a wide range of texts to articulate complex ideas. They demonstrate understanding of grammar, vary vocabulary choices for impact, and accurately use spelling and punctuation when creating and editing texts.

Topic: Social Issues

Unit of work: Life After The Oasis – English

Time required:  180+ mins. This lesson should be delivered over several sessions.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – facilitate class discussion and support students in the creation of a biographical text.

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). Steps To Creating A Biography Factsheet.

Keywords: Homelessness, homeless, youth, story, storytelling, biography, empathy, 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 the value of storytelling.
  • ... understand the features of a biography text type.
  • ... make connections to real world experiences.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... state, in their own words, the value of storytelling.
  • ... recognise the features of a biographical text.
  • ... create a biographical text.

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 tenure is short and not extendable; or
  • does not allow them to have
- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: "We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.” – Jimmy Neil Smith 

Stories From Life After The Oasis

After watching one or more of the stories from Life After The Oasis, join with a partner and discuss your responses to the questions below:

  • What are your first impressions of the story or stories you viewed?
  • Has your world view changed in any way after viewing the story? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Are other peoples' stories important? If yes, why? If no, why not?
  • Can we learn from other peoples' stories?

Are Stories Important?

After discussing ‘stories’ with the class, take some time to think about and write your response to the questions below:

1. Are stories important?

2. Is it important to understand the experiences of others? Why or why not?

3. Do other peoples' stories benefit you personally? If yes, why? If no, why not?

4. Do stories benefit society m

- or - to view worksheets

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