Stories to unite us

This unit of work, Stories to unite us, allows students to explore aspects of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, using the picture books You and Me: Our Place and Stories from the Billabong.

You and Me: Our Place, written by Leonie Norrington and illustrated by Dee Huxley, highlights the connections between young and old Aboriginal Australians, and between cultures. Stories from the Billabong is a collection of traditional Aboriginal stories from the Yorta Yorta people, retold by James Vance Marshall and illustrated by Francis Firebrace.

Fishing - Yellow Water billabong, Kakadu National Park. Copyright Tourism NT

Above: Fishing – Yellow Water billabong, Kakadu National Park. Image copyright Tourism NT

Australian curriculum links

The general capabilities emphasised in this unit of work are literacy, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability and intercultural understanding.This unit addresses the cross-curriculum priority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

See how this unit relates to Australian Curriculum: English content descriptions and NSW Syllabus outcomes.


This unit provides opportunities to explore the ideas that:

  • people are precious and unique
  • Aboriginal Australians have an oral story telling tradition
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are represented throughout Australia.

Teaching and learning activities

  1. Introduce the unit with You and Me: Our Place
  2. Activities for Stories from the Billabong
  3. Activities for the story ‘Why the platypus is such a special animal’
  4. Conclude the unit by completing the CSI chart

For the teacher

Find teacher notes (.doc 76.5 kB) for You and Me: Our Place. Find animated dreamtime stories at Dust Echoes.

Students can interactively learn about the close relationship of the Burarra people to their land, near Maningrida in Arnhem Land, through Burrara Gathering. Listen to Aboriginal stories about bunyips and read Aboriginal stories arising from astronomy. ABC’s Indigenous portal covers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lifestyles, culture and issues.

The Indigenous Resources (now archived) section at Aussie Educator also has extensive links. Learn more about embedding Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives into classroom practice using the 8ways framework. Consider consulting with and involving your local Aboriginal community, perhaps inviting a storyteller into the classroom. If your school has one, approach your Aboriginal Education Officer for community contacts. Useful publications include Working With Aboriginal Communities: A guide to community consultation and protocols (.pdf 1.7 MB).

Note that print downloads do not include updates applied online, including curriculum changes over time and should be used with caution:    .doc 341 kB    |    .pdf 377 kB   |   Copyright