Story of Our Rights and Freedoms - Australia and the U.N

Story of Our Rights and Freedoms - Australia and the U.N

Lesson 2 of 4 in this unit

  • Secondary
  • Year 9 - 10
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • History
  • Civics and Citizenship
  • Social
  • Equality
  • Homelessness
  • Human Rights
  • ...

Lesson summary

In this Finding Out lesson, students will explore the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). They will establish their prior knowledge about the Declaration through the ‘3-2- 1 Bridge’ visible thinking routine, then pose the questions that they have about Australia’s connection with the UDHR. Students will work in groups to conduct quick research around their questions, then share what they find with a partner. Students will work either individually or in groups to create a timeline detailing the development and influence of the UDHR, and use the evidence they gather to support their response to the critical question: “Is the UDHR relevant today?” Students will then reflect on their learning by completing the second part of the ‘3-2-1 Bridge’ visible thinking routine.

Essential questions:

  • What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)?
  • How was Australia involved with the development of the UDHR?
  • Is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights still relevant today?

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum mapping

Australian curriculum content descriptions:

Year 10 History:

  • The origins and significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Australia’s involvement in the development of the declaration (ACDSEH023)
  • Identify and select different kinds of questions about the past to inform historical inquiry (ACHHS184)
  • Select and use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies (ACHHS193)
  • Use chronological sequencing to demonstrate the relationship between events and developments in different periods and places (ACHHS182)
  • Use historical terms and concepts (ACHHS183)
  • Identify and select different kinds of questions about the past to inform historical inquiry (ACHHS184)

Syllabus outcomes: HT5-2, HT5-8, HT5-10

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Understanding.

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: Students explain the significance of events and developments from a range of perspectives. When researching, students develop, evaluate and modify questions to frame a historical inquiry. They process, analyse and synthesise information from a range of primary and secondary sources and use it as evidence to answer inquiry questions. Students develop texts, particularly explanations and discussions, incorporating historical argument. In developing these texts and organising and presenting their arguments, they use historical terms and concepts, evidence identified in sources, and they reference these sources.

Unit of work: Story of Our Rights and Freedoms – Year 10.

Time required: 120+ mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium- provide some guiding information to students and supervise group activities.

Resources required


This lesson is designed to build students’ competencies in the following skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Digital literacy
  • Ethical understanding

Additional info

Throughout the Story of Our Rights and Freedoms lessons, students will consider Civics and Citizenship concepts through a human rights lens. They will critically assess the Australian system of government and the effect that it has on our rights and freedoms.
There is no universally accepted definition of human rights, and our understanding is continually developing. Some definitions include:

  • The recognition and respect of peoples’ dignity
  • A set of moral and legal guidelines that promote and protect the recognition of our values, our identity and access to an adequate standard of living
  • The basic standards by which we can identify and measure inequality and fairness
  • Those rights associated with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

When we talk about human rights we usually refer to principles that have been agreed upon by countries throughout the world. These rights have been set down in international agreements and form part of international law. They can also be written into the domestic law of individual countries. Human rights cover virtually every area of human life and activity. These include:

  • Civil and political rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom from torture
  • Economic and social rights, such as the rights to health and education
  • Individual rights, including the right to a fair trial
  • Collective rights, or those rights that apply to groups of people, such as the right to a healthy environment or to live on one’s ancestral land.

The UDHR is an international document that recognises the basic rights and fundamental freedoms to which all human beings are entitled. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 and marks a key milestone in the history of human rights. The Magna Carta, though limited in who it protected, was an important precursor to the UDHR.

Click here to watch a video about the Magna Carta.

You can view the entire text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the other core international human rights treaties, on the United Nation’s website or by downloading RightsApp (free from the iTunes App store).

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