readilearn: I am Australian 

  • Published on January 19, 2018

Australia is a continent populated mostly by immigrants or their descendants. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2016, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Australia was fewer than 3 per cent of the population. This means that over 97 have ancestors who were born elsewhere, though most will feel the influence of no more than two previous generations and consider themselves firmly “Australian”. In fact, the number of Australians born overseas is still increasing and was over 28 per cent in 2016.

What this means for teachers in Australia, is that the composition of their classes will include children from a great diversity of cultural backgrounds. Possibly it is the same for you.

This proxy Australian anthem I Am Australian, written by Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton, is a moving song that honours the diversity of cultures in Australia, from the First Australians to more recent immigrants. It is often sung in schools to help develop an understanding of and appreciation for the richness of the Australian peoples.

It is important to teach children acceptance of and appreciation for each other and their traditions. A supportive classroom will value each child’s contribution and heritage. Getting to know each other at the beginning of a school year provides the perfect opportunity for learning about the traditions of others. However, it can be done at any time of the year.

multicultural family traditions celebrations

readilearn resources that assist you do this are

Learning about family traditions and celebrations–a unit of work for early childhood

Letter to parents–Family traditions and celebrations

Letter to parents–Family traditions and celebrations–editable

Family traditions and celebrations–Parent sheet

Family traditions and celebrations–Parent sheet–editable

My Family Traditions

My Family Traditions–editable

My family–Where we were born–World Map

Name flags for wall map

As well as being available individually, I have now collected them all into one zip folder for easy download–Family Traditions and Celebrations.

Note: If you wish to edit any of the editable documents but find they don’t format correctly on your computer, email me and I’ll see what I can do for you.

Mem Fox Whoever You Are I'm Australian Too

Reading stories that honour diversity about children from diverse backgrounds is a great way to help children develop understanding, acceptance and empathy. Two of my favourite picture books are by Australian author Mem Fox: Whoever You Are and  I’m Australian Too.

Whoever You Are celebrates diversity and, at the same time, commonality. While appearance, words and food may all differ–inside we are just the same–all over the world.

 I’m Australian Too is a celebration of multicultural Australia, depicting children from a wide range of cultural heritages, who are now all Australian too.

There are many other wonderful books about diversity to share with your class. I’m sure you have favourites of your own, or your school librarian will be happy to make suggestions. But if you are looking for more ideas, Multicultural Children’s Book Day has resources to help.

Multicultural Children's Book Day
Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Celebrated on 27 January, Multicultural Children’s Book Day aims to create greater awareness of children’s books that celebrate diversity and to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries. I’m sure you’ll agree with that aim.

There is much to explore on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website; including resources such as, a list of diversity books and activities for teachers and parents, and  a free Classroom Empathy Kit that includes a book list and activities to help children develop empathy. You can even sign up to get a free diversity book for your classroom.

(Note: There is also a great way for authors and publishers to help out by donating their books with multicultural themes.)

Multicultural Children's Book Day
Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

How do you celebrate cultural diversity in your classroom? Let me know your favourite multicultural picture books in the comments.

While the individual resources are available to subscribers only, to assist you celebrate the diversity of cultures in your classroom, the new zip folder Family Traditions and Celebrations will be available free until 19 February (after Chinese New Year).

have you used

Did you know that other readilearn resources include children from diverse backgrounds?

Check out these:

clever children

who am I friends at play cover

logic puzzles Christmas lower primary

Register now to begin using free resources, or Subscribe for access to all resources.

Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.

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    I loved the books you shared — Love Mem Fox’s “Whoever You are.” And great resources and activities. I love reading books about Australia, and one of my favorite movies is Australia. Beautiful video. It told a story.

    I’m pleased you enjoyed the post, Patricia. Thank you for reading. Mem Fox’s “Whoever You Are” is just delightful, isn’t it. I’m pleased you are interested in Australia. Have you visited, or do you have plans to visit?

    You are proudly Australian and that is beautiful so see! I was surprised by the statistic that 97% of Australians were born elsewhere. But how lovely to see the pride shown for the local culture and to learn more about a place that I want to visit one day 🙂

    Hi Christy,
    Thank you for reading and commenting. Apologies for misleading you. It’s not that 97% of Australians were born elsewhere, but 97% do have at least one ancestor that was born overseas. Just less than 30% of Australians were born overseas.
    I hope you do come to visit Australia. It is a great place to visit, and it would be nice to catch up in person.

    Thank you, Robbie. I think cultural diversity is a part of much of the modern world. Learning about each other is a great way to encourage acceptance and respect.

    Loved the video and the message in your post Norah. What a wonderful way to start the children off in the new year getting to know about the different backgrounds of their fellow classmates, It certainly takes the edge off ‘strange’ and a wonderful way to keep prejudice at bay. <3

    Thank you, Debby. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post and the video. The song is one of my favourites and I hope children all around Australia will be singing it this week, though Queensland children are the only ones starting back to school tomorrow. The other states don’t start back for another week or even two. Hopefully that won’t stop the children singing though. 🙂

    That song can easily get into one’s spirit. It’s full of the kind of positive and embracing feeling for one’s place of origin. And yet Australia, like America, is made up of so many immigrants and cultural experiences. I like these resources you offer that reach out beyond the classroom and include parents, too who I often think need more lessons in acceptance than do the children. When we were at Zion last year, I encountered a man on the trail who did not speak English. That’s typical because Zion is a national park that attracts millions of visitors, many international. We smiled at one another as we scooted past, he heading up and me heading down. His son came behind him, a grown man not a child, and apologized for his father’s lack of greeting. The elder man only spoke Korean. I said that was fine and that we exchanged smiles which was a fair enough greeting. We chatted a bit and I detected an accent in the son’s voice. When I asked, he proudly said. “I am Australian!”

    It is a song that speaks to the spirit and is respectful of everyone, regardless of origin. I appreciate that you see value in my work.
    Thank you for sharing the story of your Zion encounter. Smiles speak louder than words, especially when there are no words. It’s interesting that the son considered it important to apologise for his father’s lack of greeting. I wonder why. We Australians often are considered the friendliest people on Earth. 🙂

    I think the son was self-conscious of his father’s lack of English, and he wanted me to know his father was not being unfriendly. Because he obviously valued being friendly! I love your work, Norah! The world needs educators like you and your material can spread good lessons and classroom support.

    That makes sense to me, that the son would be protecting his father’s reputation, so to speak.
    Thank you for your kind words. I do hope many teachers find that the resources lighten their workloads. So many of us work such long hours!

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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