1 x 2-hour lecture weekly
1 x 1-hour tutorial weekly
Assignment(s), Test(s), Tutorial participation.
Topic description

This topic considers Donald Horne's assessment of Australia: 'A lucky country, run by second rate people who share its luck'. Horne's 1964 text The Lucky Country is a springboard for, rather than a focus of, an investigation into Australia's social and political preoccupations from European invasion in 1788 to the climate crisis of the 2000s.

This topic begins with an examination of the catastrophic consequences for Indigenous peoples of British arrival. We then look at the Australian penal colonies – destinations where fortunes could be made and broken – before considering the social and political impact of the ‘convict stain’. When examining colonial governance, we focus on shifting emphases in Australia's relationships with Britain and the region, and the emergence of the White Australia policy in the lead up to Federation. This policy shape-shifted during the Great Depression and the post WW2 immigration boom, determining that some would be much luckier than others. We explore the various interpretations and manifestations of movements that sought a better deal for Australians: feminism, gay liberation and the movements for Indigenous and refugee rights. We end by looking at the impact of climate change on everyday lives, and its consequences for the political and social life of the nation.

Educational aims

This topic aims to introduce students to key events and the emergence of political ideas and movements in Australia since 1788 within an international context. It aims to consider the impact of British arrival, and how various political ideas and movements developed from first contact to the present day. These will be explored from a human rights perspective, examining their implications for the lives of ordinary Australians. Primary and secondary sources will be used to conduct these explorations, thereby developing students' abilities to distinguish between the two and interpret them accordingly in their relevant contexts.

Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Analyse political events and preoccupations that have shaped Australia since 1788, including an emerging international human rights agenda and its relevance to the political campaigns of Indigenous Australians and immigrants to Australia
  2. Discuss key debates about the place of Australia in the world, past and present
  3. Assess critically representations of the past in primary and secondary sources, with particular attention to the ways in which ideas about gender, race, class, nation and regionalism play a part in shaping individual and collective political identities
  4. Examine primary sources in their historical contexts
  5. Practice independent research and collaborative learning with an attitude that fosters mutual respect