Activity Introduction

CA-Asad-Khadim-Eka-Nickmatulhuda-photoframeQuick Summary: Students are introduced to the concept of fear that features in many of the the stories of people seeking asylum. They enhance their understanding of seeking asylum as a result of factors that incite fear by reading and viewing informative and abstract texts. Using a range of thinking, analytical and creative tools, students will engage in a close reading of poetry to understand the power of language to capture emotions, encourage empathy and communicate experiences.

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 engage with the concept and feeling of fear and consider how the experience of people seeking asylum is often a story of fear.
  • Students will understand how creative and imaginative texts, especially poetry, can be used to communicate significant and powerful meaning on complex and challenging issues.
  • Students will enhance their skills in analysing language choices to develop empathy and understanding about issues and fears driving people to seek asylum.

21st Century Skills:

ca fear skills v2

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 10 English:

  • Compare and evaluate how ‘voice’ as a literary device can be used in a range of different types of texts such as poetry to evoke particular emotional responses (ACELT1643)
  • Create sustained texts, including texts that combine specific digital or media content, for imaginative, informative, or persuasive purposes that reflect upon challenging and complex issues (ACELY1756)
  • Refine vocabulary choices to discriminate between shades of meaning, with deliberate attention to the effect on audiences (ACELA1571)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-3B, EN5-1A.

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

Cross-curriculum priority:

Relevant parts of Year 10 English achievement standards: Students explain how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary contributes to the development of individual style. They create a wide range of texts to articulate complex ideas.

Topic: Social Issues.

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

Time required: 120 minutes.

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 audio/visual presentation to present a website to the class. SPECS/SLIMS Framework, Poems (one per pair/groups of three): Home by Warsan Shire, We Refugees by Benjamin Zephaniah, Escape by Mercedes KilleenY-Chart (optional; one per student). Poetic Devices Glossary (optional; one per student). 

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Keywords: asylum seeker, refugee, migrant, poetry, fear, poetic devices, found poetry, push factors.

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


Teacher Worksheet

CA-Boat-Joel-van-Houdt-photoframe4Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: This lesson will engage students with a significant ‘story’ of chasing asylum: fear. Through considering the circumstances that create fear and reactions to fear, students will begin to understand and empathise with people fleeing their homes in fear and seeking asylum in another country. Students will engage with this concept through poetry and will focus on the figurative and literal ways that fear impacts us as human beings. Studying poetry can be challenging, however by anchoring this study with a common emotion and feeling, students can engage more critically with the material and develop their skills in interpreting language used to communicate significant meaning about challenging issues.

Teacher content information: The issue of people seeking asylum and border protection is very political - many different perspectives exist across a range of contemporary and historical media texts. Australia has a long history of migration resul

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: “What does fear make people think, believe, feel, say and do?”

Conceptualising fear

In your view, what does a sense of fear look like, sound like and feel like? You can use this Y-Chart to organise your ideas.

Push Factors

Complete the 'Think, Pair, Share' activity below in response to the question: 'What might force or push someone to leave their home country?' Think individually first, then share with a partner, and then share your thoughts with the class.

What might force or push someone to leave their home country?

I think (think individually)

We think (share your thoughts with your partner)

We share (share your pair's thoughts with the rest of the class)

Now watch the following clips and answer the related questions:

Migration to Europe - why now? BBC News (

After watching the BBC report on migration to Europe since the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011, list s

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