Activity Introduction

CA-Eva-With-Family-Eka-Nickmatulhuda-photoframeQuick summary: Students examine perspectives on people seeking asylum and offshore detention policies by considering rhetorical voices, and analyse how the devices of rhetoric are used by these voices to persuade audiences. Using a variety of thinking and analytical tools, students will refine their knowledge skills and evaluate rhetorical devices in news media texts. In doing so, students will enhance and deepen their understanding of the power of language.

CA-Title-Treatment-ReversalChasing Asylum exposes the real impact of Australia’s offshore detention policies through the personal accounts of people seeking asylum and whistleblowers who tried to work within the system. To watch the documentary, stream it on Kanopy and Clickview or purchase the DVD at the ATOM Education Shop.

Learning Intentions:

  • Students will learn about rhetoric devices and how they can be used to represent particular perspectives on human experiences.
  • Students will understand that the composition of persuasive texts are influenced by purpose and context.
  • Students will understand how ideas, values and attitudes about issues are expressed in texts and explain the impact on audiences.

21st Century skills:

ca rhetorical voices skills

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 11 English

Compare texts in a variety of contexts, mediums and modes by:

  • explaining the relationship between purpose and context (ACEEN021)

Investigate the representation of ideas, attitudes and voices in texts including:

  • evaluating the effects of rhetorical devices, for example, emphasis, emotive language and imagery in the construction of argument (ACEEN025)

Reflect on their own and others’ texts by:

  • analysing the values and attitudes expressed in texts (ACEEN038)
  • explaining how and why texts position readers and viewers (ACEEN040)

General capabilities: Literacy, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, Intercultural Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority:

Topic: Social Issues.

Unit of work: Voices of Chasing Asylum – access the unit overview here.

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – facilitate class discussion and assess student work.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Rhetoric FactsheetStop the bastardry of Australia’s offshore detention centresAustralia can’t go soft on offshore processing of asylum-seekers (print one of each per student or access digitally via Student Worksheet). Highlighters (3 colours) for annotation activity (optional). 

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Keywords: Asylum, refugee, perspectives, advocacy, rhetorical devices, persuasion, language.

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


Teacher Worksheet

CA-Fraser-Daniel-Wieckmann-photoframeTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: This Finding Out lesson is designed to improve student understanding of rhetorical devices and enhance critical thinking around how they can be used to persuade audiences of news media texts about offshore detention and asylum seeking policies. Students will deepen their understanding of how language is used to persuade and how it is positioned in subtle ways to shape audiences' responses to issues surrounding mandatory offshore detention policies.

Teacher content information: All over the world, the issue of people seeking asylum and border protection is a heavily politicised one. Across a range of contemporary and historical media texts, a wide spectrum of perspectives and voices exist. Australia has a long history of migration resulting in a nation of diverse ethnicities and cultural and religious backgrounds. The reasons for movement of people are equally varied, including work and employment opportunities, family connections and the

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Are you being persuaded without knowing it?

Credible and Trustworthy Voices?

Working independently, spend a couple of minutes making some brief notes about the tone, manner, impression and language of the following people in the clips from Chasing Asylum using the following table:

Individual voice Notes about language (tone, themes, word choices)
Peter Dutton
Tony Abbott
David Marr
David Manne
Malcolm Fraser

Rhetoric and Rhetorical Devices

After watching the following TED-Ed lesson about rhetoric, write your own understanding or definition of rhetoric. Refer to how or when it is used and the three main appeals.

How to use rhetoric to get what you want - Camille A. Langston (

Your own understanding or definition of rhetoric: .

Where and when is rhetoric used?

What are the three main rhetorical appeals?

Read through the Rhetoric Factsheet introductory paragraphs and breakdown of th

- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.