National Library of Australia

Teachers notes: Governor Arthur’s proclamation

Time, Continuity and Change

A student:

  • describes the significant ideas, people or events that have contributed to Australian identity.
  • analyses how periods of time in history are used to identify ideas and place events, e.g. places developments in medical science according to the centuries in which they happened.
  • examines and explains how people may think differently about the same event or issue, e.g. compares the reasons people voted for the same candidate in an election.

Place and Space

A student:

  • explains why various individuals and groups have different views about issues to do with the care of places, e.g. describes the significance of the land to Aboriginal people.


A student:

  • describes how cultural groups, their beliefs, and the way they organise themselves contribute to making the identity of a society.
  • examines how a person’s gender, race, income and social status influence the way they see themselves and are thought of by others, e.g. looks at how Indigenous people are represented in the mass media.

Language and culture are intrinsically linked. Can one be understood without the other?


  • Describe from the perspective of both European and Indigenous peoples the differing pressures that they each experienced, resulting in conflict and the outbreak of the frontier wars.
  • How is Aboriginal lore different to European law?
  • In Australia there exists an Aboriginal Memorial that commemorates all the Indigenous people who, since 1788, have lost their lives defending their land. Visit the National Gallery’s website to find out who created it.
  • In 1803, when the first settlers arrived in Van Diemen’s Land, the Indigenous population numbered about 4000. By 1830, around the time Governor Arthur had declared martial law, the population had dwindled to between 1000 and 2000. Consider the effect of the decimation of the population of Tasmanian Aboriginal people post-European settlement. Discuss the psychological, spiritual, cultural and social effects this might have had on the surviving Tasmanian Aboriginal population and their descendants.


  • From the perspectives of Captain Cook, Governor Phillip and Eddie Mabo, research and explain the concept of Terra Nullius. Do a role play. Convince a panel of High Court Judges of the basis of your claim for land.
  • What special historical and spiritual significance does Oyster Cove hold for the Aboriginal peoples of Tasmania?


  • Research the role of George Augustus Robinson, the first Chief Protector of the Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples. Contradictory views exist concerning his motives.
  • Hold a debate:
    • Team 1—Robinson was a friend and saviour to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. He tried to preserve them by removing them from the conflict and taking them to Flinders Island.
    • Team 2—Robinson was a greedy, grasping social climber who sought to profit from the plight of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Search these websites for more information on the concept of Terra Nullius