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