Prisoners and Pups

In the Adelaide Women’s Prison, a small group of prisoners have signed up to take part in a trial program to foster ex-racing greyhounds and get them ready for adoption.

The greyhounds have been born and raised in kennels, never knowing the sights and sounds of life beyond the racetrack. Trained only to chase a lure at high speed, most don’t know their names or how to take food from someone’s hand.

They are among thousands of greyhounds that are bred for racing in Australia every year and then retired – or rejected as poor racers – and put up for adoption.

The prisoners have just eight weeks to socialise and transform these institutionalised dogs into obedient, house-friendly pets. None of them have ever trained a dog before.

After spending most of their lives in cages with other dogs, the greyhounds are confused and frightened by the strange world of people. At the end of the eight weeks, they undergo a strict test to make sure they’ve been ‘civilised’ and are suitable for adoption. If they fail, they can never be placed in a home, and some may even be euthanised.

Curriculum Links

Prisoners and Pups (Study Guide here) is relevant to students from Grades 5/6 to Years 10/11. The curriculum links include


Prisoners and Pups throws up a wide range of very important social, cultural, ethical and political issues that are of both interest and relevance to all Australians. Many of these cross curricula issues are included in both State and National curriculum.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (December 2009-18), frames the Australian National Curriculum It states that

As well as knowledge and skills, a school’s legacy to young people should include national values of democracy, equity  and justice, and personal values and attributes such as honesty, resilience and respect for others….

The Declaration also notes that students

…. are able to make sense of their world and think about how things have become the way they are …. embrace opportunities, make rational and informed decisions about their own lives and accept responsibility for their own actions

This documentary is a relevant teaching and learning resource for further developing a range of students’ understandings and skills and their capacity to contribute to a socially just environmentally sustainable society.

The film explores issues central to the human rights of all of us – personal safety, shelter, social equity, collective responsibility and individual freedoms. These are very pertinent to the goals of the above Australian National Curriculum, being linked to the development of problem solving skills and the clarification of personal values for the common good.

Prisoners and Pups is available for streaming through Australian Teachers of Media.

I Used to Be Normal

I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story is a feature documentary that follows four boyband fans aged between sixteen to sixty-four from New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Melbourne. Their ages and hometowns may vary, but each of their lives has been profoundly shaped by their love of a boyband – whether it be One Direction, Take That, Backstreet Boys or The Beatles. The film presents the often surprising and intimate coming-of-age story of four diverse, funny, honest and insightful girls and women who have all had their lives dramatically changed by their love of a boy band. These four women must navigate the challenges of love, sexuality, family and faith, all while coming to terms with the problems and contradictions that are part and parcel of being in love with a boyband. The film was shot over four years in Australia and the United States, and includes animation, archival footage, and home movies shot by boyband fans from around the world. From The Beatles to the Backstreet Boys, Take That and One Direction, I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story takes the viewer back to the fun, fantasy and feelings of their teenage years.


I Used to be Normal could be used in a range of learning situations in secondary schools.In addition to being very entertaining, the film explores a number of aspects of contemporary life including:

• the factors that establish and consolidate identity;
• adolescent health, sexuality and education;
• popular culture and why it matters;
• obsession, fantasy, admiration and adoration – the psychology of fandom;
• how bands and celebrities are marketed;
• how the recordings and boxes of materials and scrapbooks kept by fans constitute invaluable historical records;
• popular music genres;
• social media;
• family relationships and dynamics

For students in secondary schools these themes could be approached from the perspective of several subject areas including:

• English
• Music
• Psychology
• Gender studies
• Media studies

Many students from ages twelve to eighteen will strongly identify with the intense devotion to the bands depicted in the film. Students may already have their own experiences being part of an adoring fandom or fanbase. They may also be surprised at how insightful and reflective the fans in this film are. Far from the hysterical, hormonal, foolish girls sometimes portrayed in the media, fans of boybands, both individually and collectively, are able to express a range of feelings and ideas that open up the fangirl experience to a sometimes cynical world.

Remembering the Anzacs of World War I

Anzac Stories is a series of six documentary vignettes in which family members pay tribute to their loved ones whose stories are featured at the acclaimed National Anzac Centre in Albany, Western Australia.

The Centre is one of Australia’s most important cultural pilgrimages. It overlooks King George Sound from where nearly 40,000 Australians and New Zealanders departed by convoy for the battlefields.

Anzac Stories covers a range of wartime experiences including those of an army chaplain, nursing sister and military commander. We follow their remarkable journeys from enlistment to the battlefields and life after the war.

The Anzac Stories series and study guide are suitable for primary and secondary students, for use as a stand-alone classroom activity or with a visit to the National Anzac Centre. They are designed to support the Australian History curriculum, particularly for Years 5, 6, 9 and 10.