Seeking refuge — The journey

This unit of work, Seeking refuge — The journey, allows students to explore the human face of the journey undertaken by refugees and asylum seekers, and to create a digital story to reflect what they learn.

Texts used include The Happiest Refugee: A memoir by Anh Do, Mahtab’s Story a novel by Libby Gleeson, the non-fiction text Children of War: Voices of Iraqi refugees by Deborah Ellis, and the graphic novel The Arrival by Shaun Tan.

Girl in school in Afghanistan. Photo by People in Need (PIN) CC BY-SA-3.0

Above: Girl in school in Afghanistan. Photo by People in Need, CC BY-SA-3.0

Australian curriculum links

The general capabilities emphasised in this unit of work are literacy, information and communication technology (ICT) capability, critical and creative thinking and intercultural understanding.

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


This unit provides opportunities to explore the ideas that:

  • wars, disaster, persecution and poverty can make it necessary for people to leave their homes
  • the decision to leave home is difficult to make and the journey is often dangerous
  • asylum seekers and refugees can often spend years in difficult conditions in refugee camps and detention centres before they are offered resettlement
  • it can be difficult to adjust to life in a new country, especially when the media negatively portrays refugees and asylum seekers.

Teaching and learning activities

  1. Introduce the unit with the refugee’s journey and Anh Do
  2. The journey as narrative structure
  3. ‘Leaving home’ and ‘On the road’
  4. Seeking refuge and resettlement

For the teacher

Find supplementary resources for Get Connected issues from World Vision Australia.

The Refugee Council of Australia, who allowed the reproduction of the case study Najeeba from Afghanistan  also have a list of books and novels on refugee and asylum seeker issues.

The public broadcaster, SBS, through the series and website Go Back to Where You Came From provides a first-hand account of the international refugee experience.

Teachers notes (.pdf 49.5 kB) are available for Mahtab’s Story by Libby Gleeson.

Note that print downloads do not include updates applied online, including curriculum changes over time and should be used with caution:  .doc 874 kB    |    .pdf 742 kB    |   Copyright