Dying to live

Allan Turner is the father of Zaidee, a seven-year-old girl who in 2004 was the only child in Victoria that year to become an organ and tissue donor after she died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Having learned that Australia lags behind similar countries on donor rates, Allan has devoted his life to finding a solution. He alerts us to the current state of play: 7 out of 10 Australians say they would donate – but fewer than 4 in 10 have actually registered to do so. Furthermore – if family members were not informed by the potential donor, more than half of donations will not proceed. Allan seeks remedies while we focus, with great emotion, on the Australians in need for whom time is running out…

Holly Ralph (41) has cystic fibrosis, an incurable genetic disorder afflicting her lungs and leaving them with just 16% functional capacity. Constantly coughing, she needs medication and oxygen to stay alive and relieve the fluid congestion she’s drowning in. Holly receives a double lung transplant, and her daughter River cares for her as Holly subsequently recovers, goes skiing, and wins a gold medal at the National Transplant Games. Holly longs to thank her donor family in person, something Australian privacy laws prevent – instead she writes a heartfelt letter which will be delivered anonymously.

When Holly is asked to speak at an organ donor event, she reveals she has just celebrated her one year ‘lungiversary’. 

Kate ‘Kitty’ Hansen (32) is a diabetic who has been awaiting a pancreas and double kidney transplant for six harrowing years, enduring exhausting dialysis to ‘wash’ her blood three times a week. Despite her illness, Kate wins a tattoo modelling contest… then sadly loses a toe to amputation. Experiencing three near-death experiences and constantly in pain, she struggles to keep hope alive for the sake of her parents and boyfriend – all while having dark thoughts of giving it up as she waits each day for ‘that call’.

Levi Walters (2) needs a kidney. Both his parents would like to donate as “living donors”, and we see them go through the process of determining who it will be – before learning that mother Alice is the better match. She lovingly gives life to Levi for the second time.

Tony Beret (65) has liver cancer. His only chance of survival is to receive the gift of life from a perfect stranger. His partner, Peter, waits anxiously as the difficult operation is performed. But before long, part of Tony’s new liver begins to die…

Henry Archoo (76) is an Indigenous Bardi man living on country in the Kimberley. Blind in one eye and virtually blind in the other, he awaits a corneal transplant. His wife Barbara cannot walk, and yells directions as Henry pushes her around in her wheelchair – she is his eyes and he is her feet. Henry receives his new cornea and, with a new outlook on life, is able to return to his favourite pastime of painting the landscapes around him.

Peter ‘Woody’ Wood (48) first experienced kidney failure at age eleven and now awaits his third transplant. After years of dialysis, he’s rapidly running out of usable veins for this life-saving treatment. Against all odds, Woody receives anotherdonor kidney, which threatens to reject within a year… but then miraculously recovers.


Curriculum Links

This series can be linked to the following subjects in the Australian Curriculum:

  •  Health and Physical Education
  •  Science
  •  English

And the General Capability of:

  •  Ethical Understanding

Dying to Live can be directly connected to the following Years 9 and 10 Health and Physical Education content descriptors:

  • Critically analyse and apply health information from a range of sources to health decisions and situations.
  • Plan, implement and critique strategies to enhance health, safety and wellbeing of their communities.
  • Critique behaviours and contextual factors that influence health and wellbeing of diverse communities.

The film can also be linked to the following content descriptors in the Year 10 Science curriculum:

  • Transmission of heritable characteristics from one generation to the next involves DNA and genes.
  • Scientific understanding, including models and theories, is contestable and is refined over time through a process of review by the scientific community.
  • Advances in scientific understanding often rely on technological advances and are often linked to scientific discoveries.
  • People use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they accept claims, explanations or predictions, and advances in science can affect people’s lives, including generating new career opportunities.
  • Values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research.

The film can be used as part of the English curriculum and connected to the following Years 9 and 10 English content descriptions:

  • Students engage with a variety of texts for enjoyment. They interpret, create, evaluate, discuss and perform a wide range of literary texts in which the primary purpose is aesthetic, as well as texts designed to inform and persuade. These include various types of media texts, including newspapers, film and digital texts, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, dramatic performances and multimodal texts, with themes and issues involving levels of abstraction, higher order reasoning and intertextual references.
  • These texts explore themes of human experience and cultural significance, interpersonal relationships, and ethical and global dilemmas within real-world and fictional settings and represent a variety of perspectives.

NB: Teachers should be aware that this film deals with highly sensitive issues around childhood illness and death, serious medical conditions and medical procedures; some of which are shown. Some of the vision and stories shown may be disturbing for some students.

An ATOM Study guide is available for download.

Power Meri

Papua New Guinea is Australia’s nearest neighbour, a place characterised by stunning but unforgiving landscape, immense cultural diversity – and a national passion for rugby league. According to human rights organisations, it is also one of the worst places in the world to be a woman.

Power Meri follows Papua New Guinea’s first national women’s rugby league team, the PNG Orchids, on their journey to the 2017 World Cup in Australia. Proud, strong and hopeful, the pioneering women in the PNG Orchids team have overcome more challenges than most to play their much-loved national sport. But after years at grassroots level, they have just three months to transform themselves into a competitive national team.

Power Meri takes audiences on a journey through rarely-seen corners of PNG and behind the scenes of women’s sport. It follows the Orchids through selection trials, arduous training with a fly-in-fly-out Australian coaching mentor, and diverse personal struggles as they face the world champion Australian Jillaroos and compete at the World Cup.

But their mission is greater than winning. In a country with appalling rates of domestic violence, sport is one of the few arenas in which PNG women can show their strength. If they can perform like men on the rugby field, can they change attitudes about the treatment and status of women back home?


Power Meri offers students an opportunity to:

  • critique and challenge assumptions and stereotypes;
  • consider the influence of sport on national and personal identity and on gender equality;
  • examine the roles, status and representations of women in modern day society;
  • weigh up the importance of winning vs participating;
  • consider the different ways people can demonstrate resilience;
  • evaluate the importance of community support to individuals and groups;
  • discuss the relative socioeconomic differences between Australia and Papua New Guinea, and the relationship between the two countries.

This study guide is suitable for secondary students at all year levels. It provides information and suggestions for learning activities in Health and Physical Education, English and Media. It may also be used as a supplementary text in the teaching of Civics and Citizenship and the development of Australian Curriculum general capabilities: Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding and Intercultural Understanding.

Links to the Health and Physical Education curriculum

In Health and Physical Education, students explore the importance of sport participation in the community, and the influence of traditions, norms and stereotypes in shaping cultures and identities. In this context, Power Meri relates to the following outcome areas:

Personal, social and community health• Being healthy, safe and active• Contributing to healthy and active communities
Movement and physical activity• Understanding movement

Links to the English curriculum

In English, students are encouraged to study texts which explore themes of human experience and cultural significance, interpersonal relationships, and ethical and global dilemmas within real-world and fictional settings and represent a variety of perspectives.

Language• Language variation and change• Purpose, audience and structures of different types of texts• Text cohesion• Visual language
Literature• Literature and context• Personal responses to ideas, characters and viewpoints in texts
Literacy• Texts and contexts in which they are used• Listening and speaking interactions• Purpose and audience• Analysing and evaluating texts

Links to the Arts (Media) curriculum

In Media Arts, students refine and extend their understanding of structure, intent, character, settings, points of view, genre and conventions through opportunities to reflect on, analyse, interpret and evaluate a range of media texts. Specifically, students:

  • Analyse how technical and symbolic elements are used in media artworks to create representations influenced by story, genre, values and points of view of particular audiences
  • Evaluate how technical and symbolic elements are manipulated in media artworks to create and challenge representations framed by media conventions, social beliefs and values for a range of audiences (ACAMAR078)
  • Identify specific features and purposes of media artworks from contemporary and past times to explore viewpoints and enrich their media arts making (ACAMAR072)
  • Analyse a range of media artworks from contemporary and past times to explore differing viewpoints and enrich their media arts making (ACAMAR079)

Teachers are advised to consult the Australian Curriculum online at http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ and curriculum outlines relevant to their state or territory for further information.

An ATOM Study Guide is available for download.Documentary FeatureStudy Guides

Midnight Oil: 1984

In 1984, Midnight Oil release their iconic record Red Sails in the Sunset. They embark on a relentless tour around the nation performing raw and electrifying music that reignites the imagination of young Australians. That same year, their lead singer Peter Garrett commits to run for a Senate seat in New South Wales for the Nuclear Disarmament Party (NDP).

Midnight Oil had been building a strong following since 1977. Their live performances were legendary. Their popularity gave a voice to the feelings of a young generation concerned about nuclear power, Indigenous affairs, environmentalism and US dominance of Australian culture. With the full support of the band, Garrett launches himself and his fellow band mates into a strenuous and demanding alliance between rock music and politics.

The NDP campaign resonated powerfully with young people concerned about nuclear weapons and war. A demographic previously alienated from politics was suddenly energised and ready to vote Garrett into the Senate. Working from makeshift offices with few resources and aided by NDP Campaign Manager Mark Dodshon, Garrett darts from schools to rallies, talking to the media and spreading the message of the campaign. As the NDP starts to poll strongly politicians from all sides go on the attack.

Meanwhile the pressure of performing on both the live stage and the political stage takes its toll on the band. With their lead singer campaigning throughout the day and performing at night it becomes an anxious and conflicted time for the band. The added adrenaline and excitement surrounding Garrett’s Senate campaign draws a lot of media attention and their profile goes from the back pages of the entertainment section to the front pages of the news.

Thirty years in the making and featuring never seen before footage of the band on and off the stage, Midnight Oil: 1984 is the untold story of the year Australia’s most iconic rock band inspired the nation to believe in the power of music to change the world.


Midnight Oil: 1984 is suitable for secondary students in Years 10 – 12 undertaking:

  • Australian and Global Politics
  • Australian History
  • English
  • Media
  • Music

In Australian and Global Politics, Midnight Oil: 1984 offers students the opportunity to engage in discussions about key political and social issues, and to reflect on the importance of being informed citizens, voters and participants in their local, national and international communities. Activities have been designed to prompt awareness of the nature of power and policy formulation through a discussion of the role and influence of individuals, interest groups and minor political parties in Australian politics.

In Australian History, Midnight Oil: 1984 allows students to discuss, interpret and evaluate how Midnight Oil as a band and the music of Midnight Oil have contributed to Australian society and culture. The film is a relevant resource to teach the Year 10 Australian Curriculum elective: Popular Culture.

In English, Midnight Oil: 1984 expands and enriches students’ understanding of human experiences. Activities have been designed to allow students to discuss, interpret and evaluate the film, including its ideas, characters, themes, contexts and cultural significance; and to identify, analyse and evaluate the way the film uses structures, features and conventions to construct meaning.

In Music, Midnight Oil: 1984 develops students’ knowledge of musical genres, styles and cultures and their understanding of artistic processes. Activities have been designed to allow students to discuss, interpret and evaluate the music of Midnight Oil and the band members’ careers as musicians; and to observe, research and critically discuss the stylistic, technical, expressive and aesthetic features of music within a particular style and period.

In Media, students can use Midnight Oil: 1984 to describe, analyse and interpret a professional media product in terms of how it communicates ideas to a specific audience. Activities have been designed to allow students to describe and discuss ways that a documentary depicts events, people, places and themes.

Teachers are advised to consult the Australian Curriculum online at https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ and curriculum outlines relevant to their state or territory for further information.

The study guide activities promote student engagement and active participation via individual reflection, class discussions, and small group and team work. Multiple activities are provided to allow teachers to select those which will best suit the demands of the subject and the needs of the students.

If you do not own copies of Midnight Oil’s music, you can listen online by accessing Midnight Oil’s artist profile on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/artist/72KyoXzp0NOQij6OcmZUxk. Watch music videos of Midnight Oil’s songs online at https://www.midnightoil.com/videos/.

It is recommended that teachers preview Midnight Oil: 1984.

Midnight Oil: 1984 ATOM Study Guide is available here.

The Show Must Go On

‘The Show Must Go On’ is the first film to tell the story of the mental health of the 42,000 people working in the Australian arts and entertainment industry. While ‘show business’ is often seen as glamorous, fun, exciting, and well paid, recent and alarming world first research from Entertainment Assist and Victoria University paints a darker picture for entertainment workers. Anxiety symptoms are 10 times higher, sleep disorders are 7 times higher and symptoms of depression are 5 times higher than the national average. Suicide attempts in the industry are double the national average.

This film follows former ‘Home and Away’ actor and debut documentary filmmaker Ben Steel on a soul-searching investigation into why are there so many arts and entertainment workers developing and struggling with mental well-being issues. Ben shares his intimate experiences living with depression and anxiety for the past few years, and along the way, we are witness to his intimate conversations with key creatives and crew, actors, dancers, musicians, performers- many of them household names – who have likewise struggled and how they have survived.

While this film may not reach and save every life, we hope it will have enough impact to at least save one, and that it will spark much needed conversations about mental health.


‘The Show Must Go On’ can be linked to the following subject areas within the Australian Curriculum: 

  • English
  • Health and Physical Education
  • The General Capabilities of ‘Ethical Understanding’ and ‘Personal and Social Capability’

‘The Show Must Go On’ can also be used as a supplementary text for the following senior school subjects: 

  • Ethics
  • Health and Human Development
  • Media Arts
  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • Psychology

Teacher discretion and sensitivity is advised when approaching a study of this documentary, as some students may have direct personal experience with depression and other mental health issues. 

Relevant Content Descriptions for Year 9 and 10 English:

  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635)
  • Compare and evaluate a range of representations of individuals and groups in different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1639)
  • 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)

Relevant Content Descriptions for Year 9 and 10 Health and Physical Education: 

  • Evaluate factors that shape identities and critically analyse how individuals impact the identities of others (ACPPS089)
  • Plan, implement and critique strategies to enhance health, safety and wellbeing of their communities (ACPPS096)
  • Critique behaviours and contextual factors that influence health and wellbeing of diverse communities (ACPPS098)

An ATOM Study Guide is available here.

Storm in a Teacup

Storm in a Teacup is an intimate portrait of Western Australian artist Leon Pericles as he embarks on his biggest challenge yet: an exhibition of his life’s works at a time when he has the least support. His wife Moira played a huge part in Leon’s success as his creative counsel and business manager. But now Moira has Alzheimer’s and Leon must juggle his role as artist, husband and carer.

Told through the eyes of their daughter Nia, Storm in a Teacup is an uplifting, raw and emotionally engaging documentary that explores love, life and loss.


This study guide is mainly aimed at mid to senior secondary school levels, with general relevance within the class activities to, and interconnecting between, English, the Arts (Media Arts, Visual Art, Fine Arts), Health, Family and Community, Society and Culture. Key general topics arising from the film are: dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease) and its life-changing effects on the individual, those in the immediate family sphere, and the community at large; what it is like to pursue the life vocation and responsibilities of an artist; the historical, memorial, social and cultural importance of archival family records and artefacts such as film, video and photographs; and the connections of memory and knowledge across the generations.

Storm in a Teacup can be linked to the following subject areas within the Australian National Curriculum:

  • English
  • The Arts: Media Arts; Visual Arts
  • Health and Physical Education

Storm in a Teacup is also recommended as a supplementary text for studying the following senior school subjects:

  • Media
  • Health and Human Development
  • Philosophy

Storm in a Teacup may also be linked to the Australian National Curriculum general capabilities of: Personal and Social Capability; Critical and Creative Thinking; and Ethical Understanding.

English curriculum content descriptions relevant to Storm in a Teacup (Year 10):

  • Create literary texts with a sustained ‘voice’, selecting and adapting appropriate text structures, literary devices, language, auditory and visual structures and features for a specific purpose and intended audience (ACELT1815)
  • Identify and explore the purposes and effects of different text structures and language features of spoken texts, and use this knowledge to create purposeful texts that inform, persuade and engage (ACELY1750)

Media Arts curriculum content descriptions relevant to Storm in a Teacup (Years 9 and 10):

  • Manipulate media representations to identify and examine social and cultural values and beliefs (ACAMAM074)
  • Evaluate how technical and symbolic elements are manipulated in media artworks to create and challenge representations framed by media conventions, social beliefs and values for a range of audiences (ACAMAR078)

Visual Arts curriculum content descriptions relevant to Storm in a Teacup (Years 9 and 10):

  • Conceptualise and develop representations of themes, concepts or subject matter to experiment with their developing personal style, reflecting on the styles of artists (ACAVAM125)
  • Plan and design artworks that represent artistic intention (ACAVAM128)

Health and Physical Education curriculum content descriptions relevant to Storm in a Teacup (Year 9 and 10):

  • Personal, Social and Community Health: Investigate how empathy and ethical decision making contribute to respectful relationships (ACPPS093) 
  • Evaluate situations and propose appropriate emotional responses and then reflect on possible outcomes of different responses (ACPPS094)

An ATOM Study Guide is available for Storm in a Teacup.

Father of the Fair Go

Maurice Blackburn – the name might be familiar but the life and times less so.

A range of esteemed leaders – politicians, union bosses, academics, historians, lawyers – come together in Father of the Fair Go to share their admiration, knowledge and wonder of Maurice Blackburn, a thoroughly unique individual in Australian political and social history. 

Using archival footage, animated graphics and a diverse range of interviews, Father of the Fair Go patches together a portrait of a man who is lesser known than he should be. It provides an opportunity for viewers to learn about his contribution to Australia’s political and industrial landscape and his legacy. 

Born 1880, Maurice Blackburn’s worldview was defined by ideals of fairness, justice and equality. From a young age, he noticed the disparity between rich and poor and a fire burned within him his whole life to correct this injustice. As a university student, Maurice’s political ideas became clearer. He joined the Socialist Party first and then later the Labor Party in order to play a role in state and federal politics. 

Believing that everyone was equal before the law regardless of their social standing, it is not surprising that Maurice went on to practice the law and use instruments of the law to tip the scales of justice toward those who were most disadvantaged, such as workers and the poor. 

Through his legal firm, Maurice Blackburn & Co., Maurice worked closely with trade unions and workers themselves, providing pro bono advice on a regular basis, to reform industrial law and to defend workers’ rights. During this time, he became known as a highly skilled negotiator, resolving one of Australia’s longest running strikes – the Seamen’s Strike of 1919. 

Driven by the desire to effect societal change on a broader scale, Maurice entered politics at several stages in his life. He held seats in both state and federal parliament, and while these stints allowed him to fight for important causes, they were also marred by the grubby nature of politics whether it be preselection battles or the conflict between Maurice and official Labor Party policy. Maurice found himself at odds with the Party on several occasions and was ultimately expelled from the Labor Party in 1941, marking the beginning of his stint as an Independent. 

Maurice lived through a turbulent era that included Federation, two World Wars and the Depression. These major historical events threw up questions and issues that Maurice responded to with passion and principle. One of these was conscription, which he opposed his whole political career, much to the dismay of the Labor Party apparatchiki. He also maintained uncompromising stances on war and fascism, which also put him at odds with Labor policy. In his refusal to kowtow to official Party policy, Maurice represents a paragon of political office that puts principle over pragmatism.

Of equal importance in Maurice’s life was his marriage to Doris Hordern, a first-wave feminist, campaigner and activist. Not surprisingly, they met on the campaign trail and formed a couple at a time when the Australian intelligentsia was inspired by the theories and ideals of feminism and socialism. To many, their union saw the formation of a formidable ‘power couple’. 

Maurice’s achievements include resolving some of Australia’s largest ever industrial disputes, reforming industrial law, laying the foundations of the civil libertarian movement and establishing a law firm renowned for its social justice agenda that continues to this very day.

What are the lessons we can take from Maurice’s life? Father of the Fair Go highlights the way political parties are large-scale organisations that achieve consensus through compromise and majority view whereby undiluted, ‘radical’ ideas are jettisoned. All his life, Blackburn bucked this trend and was consequently labelled a ‘maverick’.

After viewing this documentary, one is left with the stirring question:  what do you believe in and to what extent will you fight for these beliefs?


This documentary is suited to Years 9 and 10, in the following learning areas: English, History and Civics and Citizenship. It addresses a number of standards in these areas as well as the general capability Critical and Creative Thinking. Relevant standards for each learning area follow. 

English (Year 9)

  • Analyse and explain the use of symbols, icons and myth in still and moving images and how these augment meaning (ACELA1560) 
  • Create literary texts, including hybrid texts, that innovate on aspects of other texts, for example by using parody, allusion and appropriation (ACELT1773)
  • Analyse how the construction and interpretation of texts, including media texts, can be influenced by cultural perspectives and other texts (ACELY1739)
  • Listen to spoken texts constructed for different purposes, for example to entertain and to persuade, and analyse how language features of these texts position listeners to respond in particular ways (ACELY1740)
  • Use interaction skills to present and discuss an idea and to influence and engage an audience by selecting persuasive language, varying voice tone, pitch, and pace, and using elements such as music and sound effects (ACELY1811)
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements for aesthetic and playful purposes (ACELY1741)
  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts (ACELY1742)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse texts, comparing and evaluating representations of an event, issue, situation or character in different texts (ACELY1744)
  • Explore and explain the combinations of language and visual choices that authors make to present information, opinions and perspectives in different texts (ACELY1745)
  • Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that present a point of view and advance or illustrate arguments, including texts that integrate visual, print and/or audio features (ACELY1746)
  • Review and edit students’ own and others’ texts to improve clarity and control over content, organisation, paragraphing, sentence structure, vocabulary and audio/visual features (ACELY1747)

English (Year 10)

  • Analyse and explain how text structures, language features and visual features of texts and the context in which texts are experienced may influence audience response (ACELT1641) 
  • Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)
  • Create literary texts with a sustained ‘voice’, selecting and adapting appropriate text structures, literary devices, language, auditory and visual structures and features for a specific purpose and intended audience (ACELT1815) 
  • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)
  • Use organisation patterns, voice and language conventions to present a point of view on a subject, speaking clearly, coherently and with effect, using logic, imagery and rhetorical devices to engage audiences (ACELY1813)
  • 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)

History (Year 9)

  • The emergence and nature of significant economic, social and political ideas in the period, including nationalism (ACOKFH019) 
  • The emergence and nature of key ideas in the period, with a particular focus on ONE of the following: capitalism, socialism, egalitarianism, nationalism, imperialism, Darwinism, Chartism (ACDSEH019)
  • Living and working conditions in Australia around the turn of the twentieth century (that is 1900) (ACDSEH090)
  • An overview of the causes of World War I and the reasons why men enlisted to fight in the war (ACDSEH021) 
  • Use chronological sequencing to demonstrate the relationship between events and developments in different periods and places (ACHHS164)
  • Use historical terms and concepts (ACHHS165)
  • Identify and select different kinds of questions about the past to inform historical inquiry (ACHHS166) 

Civics and Citizenship (Year 9)

  • The role of political parties and independent representatives in Australia’s system of government, including the formation of governments (ACHCK075)
  • How and why individuals and groups, including religious groups, participate in and contribute to civic life (ACHCK079

Civics and Citizenship (Year 10)

  • The challenges to and ways of sustaining a resilient democracy and cohesive society (ACHCK094) 

Father of the Fair Go Study Guide is available at ATOM.