Youth On Strike


In March 2019 over 150,000 Australian school students went on strike to demand action on climate change. They risked their studies to unite their generation, while still doing their homework.

Youth on Strike! is the story of how young Australians defied calls to stay in school and organised one of the largest youth-led movements Australia has ever seen, told by twelve students who vlogged the whole thing. From Townsville to Western Sydney, Adelaide to Melbourne, these young people share their stories of who they are and capture what it took to organise a movement. Using only footage recorded by the students, this is their story, unfiltered and in their voice, this is Youth on Strike!.

Inspired by Greta Thunberg in Sweden, the first student strike for climate change back in 2018 was quickly organised in Australia with the help of adults. But this time, the students took it on themselves to show what young people can do.

Across three episodes, we discover the challenges of keeping a youth movement youth-led, how generalisations of this generation are wrong, how students balanced school and the strike work, why young people should be able to vote, and how to get the message about climate change out there. For these students, success is everything. They haven’t put this much work, effort, tears and sweat into the movement for nothing. And they have a point to prove: they can do this without the adults.

The story begins one month out and we follow a countdown to the day of the strike, getting to know the students in personal and honest video blogs where they share their experiences, thoughts, feelings and opinions.

You know the result of the strike, you saw the news, now uncover the behind the scenes story and meet some of the students.

Curriculum Links

In 2010 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) established the Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (CCESD) program. It was part of the organisation’s effort to increase climate literacy among young people.

The importance of climate change education was later reinforced by Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, which Australia and other countries signed in 2016. Under the Paris Agreement Work Program, countries have agreed to develop education programs about climate change.

The discussion of action is a central aspect of climate change education programs.

Youth on Strike! is relevant to the teaching of students in Years 7 – 12.

Key themes

  • Climate change
  • Climate justice
  • Individual and collective action on climate change
  • Political action on climate change
  • Youth activism

Australian Curriculum Learning Areas

  • English
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Science

Teachers are advised to consult the Australian curriculum online at and curriculum outlines relevant to their state or territory.

Australian Curriculum General Capabilities – Critical and Creative Thinking

The Australian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and Creative Thinking recognises that students need to learn to generate and evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities, consider alternatives and solve problems. Responding to the challenges of climate change provides opportunities for students to be creative, innovative, enterprising and adaptable.

Teachers are advised to access further information about the Critical and Creative Thinking general capability online at <>.

Australian Curriculum Cross-Curriculum Prioritie – Sustainability

Youth on Strike! can be used as a resource in multi-disciplinary projects at a secondary level to teach the Sustainability cross-curriculum priority. The Australian Curriculum places emphasis on Sustainability as a priority for study:

‘Education for sustainability develops the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for people to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living. It enables individuals and communities to reflect on ways of interpreting and engaging with the world. Sustainability education is futures-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action. Actions that support more sustainable patterns of living require consideration of environmental, social, cultural and economic systems and their interdependence.’

Teachers are advised to access further information about the Sustainability cross-curriculum priority at <>.

For students in Years 11 – 12, Youth on Strike! has particular relevance to units of work in Australian Politics, English, Environmental Science, Geography and Global Politics. Teachers should access the senior curriculum syllabus documents for their state or territory.

Activities in this study guide provide opportunities for students to make a close reading of Youth on Strike!. In doing so, students will:

• explore and reflect on their personal understanding of climate change as an issue of local, national and global significance;

• understand the impacts of climate change at a local, national and global level;

• examine both climate change and climate action from a historical perspective;

• develop a knowledge and understanding of the growth and influence of the climate change movement within Australia and overseas;

• investigate significant people, events and campaigns that have contributed to popular awareness of climate change;

• analyse the responses of governments and organisations to environmental threats;

• explore opportunities to contribute to adapting to and reducing the impact of climate change on everyday life;

• generate ideas for further study and/or action based upon their learning;

• create a wide range of texts, make presentations and contribute actively to class and small group discussions.

Teachers are encouraged to use the links provided in the Resources section of this study guide to access curriculum units and lessons about climate change, climate justice and climate action.

When The River Runs Dry


The film explores five significant themes:

  1. The state of the Darling River at Menindee
  2. The significance of the river to Indigenous people
  3. The reasons for the fish kill events
  4. The contribution of the irrigated cotton industry and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to the parlous state of the river
  5. Possible solutions to the problems that exist

The film assumes a lot of pre-existing knowledge about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the working of the irrigated cotton industry. There are various Appendixes that explain key ideas at appropriate points of the film, if needed. The relevance of each of these is indicated at the appropriate time. If students have a detailed knowledge of the plan, they can ignore these Appendixes.

Appendix 1 Why do algal blooms kill fish?

Appendix 2 The Murray-Darling Basin Plan explained

Appendix 3 The economy, Irrigation and cotton

The film relies heavily on a large number of brief interview bites. Teachers might allocate individual students to take responsibility for reporting the comments of individual interviewees to the whole class, as suggested at appropriate times as indicated in the following pages.


When the River Runs Dry is a documentary film that is suitable for senior students (Years 10-12) in:

GeographyPlace and SpaceLandscapesSustainabilityBiomesFood and fibreResourcesWater
HistorySettlementEconomic development
Indigenous cultureConnection to countryHistoryVoice to Government
Politics and Civics and CitizenshipGovernmentDelegated authorityRights and responsibilities
EconomicsCompeting economic interestsResources
Environmental studiesEnvironmentsSustainabilityResourcesEnvironmental movements

Tunnel Vision


East West Link was a proposed 2 stage, 18-kilometre, $18 billion road tollway in Melbourne, Australia.

Tunnel Vision is the story of the communities that rose up against the infrastructure project because it threatened to make Melbourne more car dependent, more congested and undermine its liveability, sustainability and environment.

This extraordinary citizens’ movement saw people come together to question the dubious politics, flawed processes and narrow focus on expensive toll roads and demand improved public transport to ease congestion.

The campaign demonstrated that a healthy democracy is one in which citizens are heard and involved in decision making about their future.

The following people appear on screen in Tunnel Vision, either in interviews or archival footage or both. They are listed in order of appearance and their credentials are those that were current at the time of filming.

Curriculum links

As cities and communities continue to grapple with competing transport interests and solutions to congestion, Tunnel Vision explores transport in the context of liveability, sustainability and environmental health by providing an account of the East West Link. The documentary provides students with the opportunity to assess the viability and value of the road project through discussions of the proposed benefits and costs of East West Link; identify the stakeholders; and determine the likely environmental impacts and risks associated with East West Link. Tunnel Vision also explores the theme of self-empowerment and collective activism as vital elements for a healthy democracy and provides an insight into the media’s role in shaping perspectives.

Activities in this study guide provide opportunities for students to:

• respond to Tunnel Vision both personally and in detached and critical ways;

• access, synthesise and apply information from credible sources to further their knowledge and understanding of East West Link;

• account for different interpretations and points of view;

• use their own written, spoken and multimodal texts to explore concepts and ideas and to clarify their own and others’ understanding.

This study guide to accompany Tunnel Vision has been written for secondary students at all levels. It provides information and suggestions for activities in Civics and Citizenship, English, Environmental Science, Geography, Legal Studies and Media.

Teachers should consult the Australian Curriculum online at and curriculum outlines relevant to these learning areas in their state or territory.

Lesson timing

The study guide is structured as a series of lessons that address the issues and ideas explored in Tunnel Vision. The lessons, for the most part, are ordered according to the narrative arc of the documentary.Given the variations in lesson length from school to school, teachers and the differing abilities of students, teachers need to consider the time required to complete activities before embarking on the lesson. Teachers should select information and activities that will best support their students’ viewing and close analysis of the documentary.

Learning areas
Civics and Citizenship (Years 7 – 10)
• Reflect on their role as a citizen and how and why individuals and groups, participate in and contribute to civic life.• Critically evaluate information and ideas from a range of sources in relation to civics and citizenship topics and issues.• Use democratic processes to reach consensus on a course of action relating to a civics or citizenship issue.• Identify and analyse the challenges to and ways of sustaining a resilient democracy and cohesive society.
English (Years 7 – 12)
• Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts through language, structural and/or visual choices.• Determine the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts.• Identify and analyse implicit or explicit values, beliefs and assumptions in texts and how these are influenced by purposes and likely audiences.• Develop and present reasoned points of view on issues of contemporary social relevance.
Environmental Science (Years 11 – 12)
• Examine the interactions and interconnectedness between humans and their environments.• Investigate the extent to which humans modify their environments and the consequences of these changes in local and global contexts.• Explore the conceptual, behavioural, ethical and technological responses to these changes.• Investigate and evaluate issues, changes and alternative proposals by considering both shorter and longer term consequences for the individual, environment and society.
Geography (Years 7 – 12)
• Identify the causes and consequences and management of human-induced environmental change.• Explore the concept of sustainability and determine the causes of unsustainability.• Investigate environmental geography through an in-depth study of a specific environment.• The application of geographical concepts and methods to the management of the environmental change being investigated.
Legal Studies (Years 11 – 12)
• Apply knowledge of legal concepts and principles to a range of actual and/or hypothetical scenarios.• Examine the freedoms that enable active participation in Australia’s democracy within the bounds of law, including freedom of speech, association and assembly.• Examine how citizens can participate in Australia’s democracy, including use of the electoral system, contact with their elected representatives, use of lobby groups, and direct action.• Understand legal rights and responsibilities, and the effectiveness of the protection of rights in Australia.
Media (Years 9 – 12)
• Explore and evaluate how genre and media conventions and technical and symbolic elements are manipulated to make representations and meaning.• Identify and analyse how social and cultural values and alternative points of view are portrayed in media artworks.• Examine and evaluate how social, institutional and ethical issues influence the making and use of media artworks.