Activity Introduction

young personQuick summary: Why is having people live in poverty bad for us as a country? Even if I’m not living in poverty or don’t know someone who is, why should I care? Excessive inequality in any society is harmful. A system that leaves people behind is bad for the economy as well as people. When resources and power are concentrated in fewer hands, economic growth is diminished. People trapped in poverty face harsh barriers to finding paid work or gaining skills to improve their chances in the competitive job market. When people have to go without meals, sleep on the streets or can’t afford healthcare, we see the impacts of poverty and inequality. By reducing poverty and inequality, we can enjoy the collective peace of mind that comes with a more socially and politically stable country and know that when people fall on hard times, they still have enough to meet their basic needs.

In this lesson, students explore poverty and inequality through a series of short video clips whereby they respond to the experiences of living on government income support payments. Students further explore the ideas of poverty and inequality by engaging with a number of data sets and online reports, analysing their content. Students then articulate their understanding of poverty and inequality and formulate solutions for addressing these issues through the development of a digital presentation.

Learning intentions:

  • Students can identify that poverty and inequality can negatively impact people’s lives
  • Students can identify that poverty and inequality can negatively impact society
  • Students can explain why poverty is a risk factor for Australia’s overall health
  • Students can utilise technology to promote solutions for reducing poverty and inequality in Australia.

21st-century skills: 

  Community EngagementCommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracyEmpathyEthical UnderstandingGlobal CitizenshipProblem FindingProblem Solving           

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Years 9 & 10 Health and Physical Education:

  • Critique behaviours and contextual factors that influence health and wellbeing of diverse communities (ACPPS098)
  • Propose, practise and evaluate responses in situations where external influences may impact their ability to make healthy and safe choices (ACPPS092)

Syllabus outcomes: PD5-1, PD5-2, PD5-3

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative thinking, Personal and Social Capabilities, Ethical Understanding

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: 

By the end of Year 10, students critically analyse contextual factors that influence identities, relationships, decisions and behaviours. They analyse the impact attitudes and beliefs about diversity have on community connection and wellbeing. They evaluate the outcomes of emotional responses to different situations. Students access, synthesise and apply health information from credible sources to propose and justify responses to health situations. They apply decision-making and problem-solving skills when taking action to enhance their own and others’ health, safety and wellbeing.

Topic: Poverty and Inequality in Australia

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding:  Medium – facilitate class discussion

Resources required:

  • A device capable of creating audiovisual recordings, such as an iPad or camera (optional)
  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • A device that allows students to conduct research in a safe manner
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Keywords: Action, data, health, inequality, poverty, social determinants, JobSeeker, welfare, income support, economy.

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


Teacher Worksheet

young personTeacher Preparation

The content and information in these lessons may be overwhelming and cause some students to experience heightened emotions. Please ensure you allow students to ask questions and to discuss any issues or concerns. Before teaching the lesson, you may consider conducting a class check-in or circle time to establish a safe learning environment. Inform students that this might be a complex topic for them to comprehend. However, let your students know that differences in people’s incomes and wealth are nothing to be ashamed of and that these may be beyond the control of individuals and families – for example, some have more luck than others in landing a good job. Assure students that organisations and campaigns are working towards decreasing poverty in Australia, and if they would like more information, they can visit the Anti Poverty Week website ( and the Poverty and Inequality website (

Learning intentions

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Student Worksheet

Thought-starter: Before COVID-19, inequality in Australia in terms of income and wealth was extensive. Those in the highest 20% by household income had six times the income of those in the lowest 20% (ACOSS, 2021)

1. Watch, Think and Write 

Watch: First, watch the suggested clip in its entirety before writing anything down.

KAREN SBS World News Oct 2020 (

Think: Once you have watched the clip, write down your thoughts in the 'think' column. If you need some guidance, you can use the below reflections to guide your thoughts:

  • What information was new to you?
  • What do you think about the support that the government offers?
  • What opinions were presented in the clip?
  • What do you think was fair or unfair about the situations identified in the clip?
  • Is Karen someone that you think is representative of a person experiencing poverty?

Write: Lastly, in the final column, identify the inequalities that Karen has experienced and suggest

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