Defining moments

This inquiry unit helps you to initiate a depth study into the idea of egalitarianism in Victoria’s history. Students will explore:

  • the concepts of egalitarianism and equality
  • the significance of a historical moment in relation to egalitarianism
  • whether modern Australia is an egalitarian society.

Download the 'Defining moments' curriculum outcome documents below to see how this unit aligns with AusVELS for level 9 and the Australian Curriculum for Year 9.


  • Are we an equal society in Australia? Challenge students to come up with a working definition of 'equality'.
  • As a class, use Wallwisher to brainstorm the rights and liberties we have in Australia.
  • Present new vocabulary in the form of a word splash and play short word games to help deepen student understanding of these terms. Words to be introduced could include: egalitarianism, secular, equality, socialism, suffrage.
  • Introduce students to the concept of 'egalitarianism in education' as a model for their further inquiries. You can find a variety of resources on the Learnist website. 


  • Support students to form groups. Each group should choose a key event in Australia between the years 1750-1918 that involves the concept of egalitarianism. Suitable examples include Eureka Stockade, women’s suffrage, indigenous rights and the fight for the eight-hour day.
  • Encourage students to predict how their topic will connect to the concept of egalitarianism. Help them devise key questions to guide their inquiry.
  • Discuss and model good group-work skills by asking each team to establish a team contract that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each group member. (Students should continue to refine their contracts as they progress through their inquiry.)
  • Show students useful resources to help them record their research, for example Google docs, Evernote or bibliography generators.
  • Introduce students to the State Library of Victoria’s ergo website to find material relevant to their chosen topics. Also point them to the ergo research skills page for tips on how to find, filter and organise information.


  • In groups, ask students to create multimodal recreations of their chosen historical event and its link to the concept of egalitarianism. Their presentations should include research on the following: the role of an individual or group in the event, diverse primary accounts of the event, a timeline of key occurences, short and long-term impacts of the event and diverse third-party interpretations of the event.
  • As a class, establish shared success criteria for the final presentation. Adjust team contracts to account for new roles and responsibilities or deadlines, if necessary.
  • Create opportunities for groups to brief their peers on their progress and raise any questions, misconceptions or problems.


  • Invite groups to make their presentations to the class, and participate in self- and peer-assessment on the process.
  • Use the timeline activity to create a shared class timeline of the history of egalitarianism in Australia, summarising the key events from each groups’ inquiries.
  • Ask students to individually reflect on the prompt: ‘Australia is an egalitarian society today’. Students may choose to write an essay, prepare an oral presentation, create a visual response or choose another form of presentation.


  • Ask students to return to the graffiti board from the working definition activity.  As a class, reflect on how students' understandings of the concept of egalitarianism have changed over the course of this inquiry unit.