The following texts proposed by the English and English as an Additional Language (EAL) Text Advisory Panel have been approved by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) as suitable for study in Units 3 and 4 in 2024. Texts were selected in accordance with the following criteria and guidelines.

Criteria For Text Selection

Each text selected for the VCE English and EAL text list will:

  • have literary merit
  • be an excellent example of form and genre
  • sustain intensive study, raising interesting issues and providing challenging ideas
  • reflect current community standards and expectations in the context of senior secondary study of texts.

The text list as a whole will:

  • be suitable for a diverse student cohort from a range of backgrounds and contexts, including students studying EAL
  • reflect the cultural diversity of the Victorian community
  • include texts by Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • include a balance of new and established works*, including a Shakespearean text (List 1)
  • provide a balanced ranged of mentor texts (List 2)
  • include texts that display affirming perspectives
  • reflect engagement with global perspectives.

*Established works include texts that are recognised as having enduring artistic value.

Guidelines For Text Selection

The text list for VCE English and EAL must adhere to the following guidelines.

  • The text list must contain a total of 36 texts:
  • 20 for List 1: Reading and responding to text
  • 16 for List 2: Creating texts (four sets of four texts aligned with the Framework of Ideas).
  • List 1 must represent a range of texts in the following approximate proportions:
  • eight novels
  • two collections of short stories
  • two collections of poetry or songs
  • three plays
  • three multimodal texts**
  • two non-fiction texts.

**Multimodal texts are defined as combining two or more communication modes, for example, print, image and spoken text, as in films or graphic novels.

  • List 2 must include four sets of four texts aligned with each of the ideas from the Framework of Ideas that:
  • link to the aligned idea from the Framework of Ideas
  • represent a range of mentor texts, such as short stories, essays, speeches, monologues, feature articles, extracts from longer texts, poetry and songs
  • include a range of combinations of texts.
  • The text list must also contain:
  • at least five texts for List 1 and eight texts for List 2 by Australian authors
  • print and multimodal texts that are widely available
  • titles that are different from those on the VCE Literature text list.
  • The text list must be reviewed annually, with approximately 25% of the texts being changed. Typically, texts will not appear on the list for more than four consecutive years.
  • Texts will be accompanied by full bibliographic details where necessary.

Information For Schools

Teachers must consider the text list in conjunction with the relevant text selection information published on page 21 of the VCE English and EAL Study Design 2024–2027 for Units 3 and 4.

A total of five texts across the Unit 3–4 sequence must be selected from the text list published annually by the VCAA.

Across Unit 3, Area of Study 1 and Unit 4, Area of Study 1, students must read and study two selected texts from List 1.

The text type selected for study in Unit 3, Area of Study 1 must be of a different text type from that selected for study in Unit 4, Area of Study 1.

For Unit 3, Area of Study 2, students must read and study three mentor texts aligned with an idea from the Framework of Ideas from List 2.

No more than one of the selected texts from List 1 may be a multimodal text, for example, a film or graphic novel. Other multimodal texts may be used to support the study of selected texts.

No text studied at Units 1 and 2 may be studied at Units 3 and 4.

Either one of the texts selected from List 1 or two of the texts selected from List 2 must be by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or other Australian authors or creators that directly explore Australian knowledge, experience and voices.

The annotations in this document are provided to assist teachers with their selection of texts in accordance with the requirements in the VCE English and English as an Additional Language Study Design 2024–2027; they do not constitute advice about the teaching, learning or assessment of texts.

When selecting texts that do not come from the multimodal category, it is important to avoid genre confusion. A film version of a novel, short story, play or non-fiction text is not acceptable for the purposes of the examination, although it might be used in the classroom for teaching purposes.

While the VCAA considers all the texts on the text list suitable for study, teachers should be aware that some texts may contain sensitivities in relation to certain issues. In selecting texts for study, teachers should make themselves aware of these issues and plan for appropriate support where necessary before introducing the text to students.

The VCAA does not prescribe editions; any complete edition may be used. The bibliographic information in this document is provided to assist teachers to obtain texts and is correct, as far as possible, at the time of publication. Publishing details may change from time to time and teachers should consult the VCAA Bulletin regularly for any amendments or alterations to the text list.

All texts set for study – excluding multimodal texts – can be accessed from Vision Australia in an audio format for students who are blind, have low vision or live with a print disability*.

* Vision Australia have advised that the reasons for print disability vary but may include:

  • vision impairment or blindness
  • physical dexterity problems such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis or paralysis
  • learning disability, such as dyslexia
  • brain injury or cognitive impairment
  • literacy difficulties
  • early dementia

Reproduction Of Prescribed Texts

Schools are allowed to copy, and/or put online (‘communicate’) within the school’s secure learning system, an amount from a text that ‘does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the owner of the copyright’, with an appropriate source attribution. The previously prescribed limits on copying provide a useful guide as to what may be considered reasonable: one whole chapter or up to 10% of a book still commercially available; for poetry anthologies, up to 10% of the anthology (still commercially available) and provided the poem(s) are not commercially available as separate works; one or more articles per issue of a ‘journal’, magazine or news publication (print or online), provided the articles are on the same topic.’

Schools make these copies in reliance on the Education Statutory Licence within the Copyright Act, for which the school sector pays an annual fee. For detailed guidance on the Education Statutory Licence and related copyright requirements, schools can access the information provided by the National Copyright Unit at Smartcopying, and seek advice from their school sector’s NCU Copyright Officer.

Key To Codes

Both List 1 and List 2 are presented alphabetically by author. List 1 is presented according to text type; List 2 is divided according to the Framework of Ideas.

Abbreviations in brackets after the titles signify the following:

  • ‘(A)’ – this text meets the Australian requirement.
  • ‘(#)’ – bracketed numbers indicate the number of years that a text has appeared on the VCE English and EAL text list. For example, (1) indicates that 2024 is the first year that a text has appeared on the text list.

List 1


Achebe, Chinua, Things Fall Apart (4)

Arnott, Robbie, Flames (A) (3)

Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice (4)

Erpenbeck, Jenny, Go, Went, Gone (3)

Franklin, Miles, My Brilliant Career (A) (1)

García Márquez, Gabriel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1)

Jackson, Shirley, We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2)

Ogawa, Yōko, The Memory Police (1)

Short Stories

Hadley, Tessa, Bad Dreams and Other Stories (2)
Stories for study: All

Munro, Alice, Runaway (4)
Stories for study: All


Harrison, Jane, Rainbow’s End (A) (2)

Shakespeare, William, Much Ado About Nothing (4)

Sophocles, Oedipus the King (1)


Papertalk Greene, Charmaine and Kinsella, John, False Claims of Colonial Thieves (A) (3)

Wordsworth, William, William Wordsworth: Poems Selected by Seamus Heaney (4)

Multimodal Texts


Johnson, Stephen (director), High Ground (A) (2)

Wilder, Billy (director), Sunset Boulevard (2)


Ottley, Matt, Requiem for a Beast (A) (2)

Non-Fiction Texts

Laveau-Harvie, Vicki, The Erratics (A) (3)

Noah, Trevor, Born a Crime (2)

List 2

Framework of Ideas Texts for study
Writing about personal journeys Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ (1)

Duong, Amy, ‘The Red Plastic Chair is a Vietnamese Cultural Institution, and My Anchor’ (A) (1)

Hodge, Maya, ‘bidngen’ (A) (1)

López, Matthew, Walter’s speech (end of Part 1) from The Inheritance (1)

Writing about play Gay, Virginia, Monologue from Cyrano (A) (1)

Roffey, Chelsea, ‘An Open Letter to Doubting Thomas’ (A) (1)

Russon, Penni, ‘All That We Know of Dreaming’ (A) (1)

Winton, Tim, ‘About the Boys’ (A) (1)

Writing about country Chekhov, Anton, ‘Gooseberries’ (1)

Clarke, Maxine Beneba, Chapter 2, The Hate Race (A) (1)

Kassab, Yumna, ‘The Conquest of Land and Dream’ (A) (1)

Lynch, Cassie, ‘Split’ (A) (1)

Writing about protest Gillespie, Mark, ‘Friday Essay: On the Sydney Mardi Gras March of 1978’ (A) (1)

Pankhurst, Emmeline, ‘Freedom or Death’ (1)

Vonnegut, Kurt, ‘Harrison Bergeron’ (1)

Wyatt, Meyne, Monologue from City of Gold (A) (1)


These annotations are provided to assist teachers with text selection. The comments are not intended to represent the only possible interpretation or a favoured reading of a text.

List 1 is presented alphabetically by author according to text type. Films are listed by title.

List 1


Achebe, Chinua, Things Fall Apart, Penguin Classics, 2006,
ISBN 9780141023380 (4)

Set in Eastern Nigeria during the time of colonial expansion into Africa, Things Fall Apart tells the story of Okonowo, a proud and highly respected tribesman from Umuofia, somewhere near the Lower Niger. From immature young man to respected clansman, Okonowo must deal with the challenges of growing up in a changing world. Ashamed of his father, obedient to the gods and responsible for his many wives and children, Okonowo is ‘turned upside down’ after he accidentally shoots an elder’s son, and missionaries and colonial administrators arrive in his small village, intent on shifting the power structure.

Chinua Achebe explores what it means to be an African man in a tribal society whose very existence is under threat from colonisers. Achebe immerses the audience in another world, using the themes of cultural difference, tradition and change, masculinity, religion and family to give the reader insight into a raw, brutal and beautiful life.

Arnott, Robbie, Flames, Text Publishing, 2020, ISBN 9781922268211 (A) (3)

The unique and magical setting of Tasmania drives this original tale. Magical realism is at the heart of this story and students should be open to and expect the bizarre and unforeseen. The text opens with the return of a cremated woman who appears to her estranged husband and immolates herself on his lawn. The story then follows her son’s desperate search to find a suitable coffin for his sister, whom he assumes is terrified of inheriting her mother’s fate. We learn more about this quest and are introduced to people such as Thurston Hough, the enraged coffin builder, and Karl, the fisherman who successfully forms a partnership with a seal to catch ‘Oneblood’ tuna. We see events and perspectives written in different formats in each chapter.

Robbie Arnott creates humans and other entities, such as a personification of fire and a river god in the form of a water rat. Ideas of grief, family connection, betrayal, the development of heterosexual relationships (and a same-sex relationship) and conservation are among the many concerns examined.

Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice, Penguin Classics, 2003,
ISBN 9780141439518 (4)

First published in 1813 and originally titled ‘First Impressions’, Pride and Prejudice follows the setting up and unravelling of misunderstandings between the spirited Elizabeth Bennet and the wealthy Fitzwilliam Darcy. The introduction of siblings, cousins and suitors complicates the plot and deepens Elizabeth’s awareness of herself. The text follows the ways in which characters respond to the attentions of others.

Replete with irony and free indirect discourse, Pride and Prejudice is an extended meditation on the extent to which one must know oneself before they can truly know another. It also provides insight into the obsessions of Georgian England: marriage, rank and etiquette. While Austen’s original readers would undoubtedly have appreciated the twists and turns of the marriage plot, modern audiences will appreciate the way in which Elizabeth and her four sisters navigate expectations imposed by self and society, as well as the notion of an ‘accomplished woman’.

Erpenbeck, Jenny, Go, Went, Gone, Granta, 2018, ISBN 9781846276224 (3)

Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel explores the bonds of empathy, truth, communication and the nature of our relationship with ourselves. It opens with a Berliner university lecturer, Richard, who is looking forward to his retirement. His middle-class quandary recedes as he slowly sees and acknowledges the influx of refugees arriving in Germany from North Africa since 2013. Richard’s world is created both by his reaction to the present tragedy and by his failure to process his experiences as an East German and the son of a World War II German soldier.

The narrative voice shifts away from him to the refugees as Richard grows closer to them. Their haunting and at times opaque stories show the difficulty of dealing with the terror of dispossession and its aftermath. Erpenbeck shows how each character is facing a different pain in response to the loss of their home, family or identity, and the attempts to reconstruct them anew. The novel also shows that the supposed safety of Europe is never assured, and that discrimination and oppression are still practised through bureaucracy and other easier, less violent methods.

None of the characters are saints: Richard is repeatedly shown to be selfish and shamelessly kept a mistress while he was married; some of the refugees are criminals and hot-headed. Yet the novel grants all of them humanity, partly through relating their experiences and partly through the book’s prose, which is terse, unmoving and emotionally uninvolved, much like Richard. The novel uses word play and misunderstandings, and occasionally incorporates languages other than English to explore the barriers that language can create. Through it all, the novel maintains its focus on the need to bridge the gap between cultures, ideologies and, most importantly, people.

Franklin, Miles, My Brilliant Career, Text Classics, 2012,
ISBN 9781921922190 (A) (1)

Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career, first published in 1901, is a deservedly admired Australian classic. The story describes the travails of Sybylla Melvyn, whose intelligent and rebellious nature is curbed alike by her gender, her poverty and her isolation in the bush. She longs for music and literature, the theatre and the company of people like herself but spends much of her girlhood in household drudgery, exacerbated by her father’s alcoholism. Feisty and unconventional, Sybylla is a very modern heroine who refuses to marry for economic comfort without love. She refuses to conform to society’s expectations of feminine behaviour even when this means conflict with her family. Sybylla’s ambition is to be a writer and, through this, to achieve independence.

My Brilliant Career touches on timeless problems such as the treatment of the homeless and the situation of married women who have no money of their own, such as Sybylla’s mother. Sybylla’s voice is fresh, honest and at times lyrical. A reflection on growing up, the book is a view of life in Australia over a century ago that is still relevant today.

García Márquez, Gabriel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Penguin, 2014,
ISBN 9780241968628 (1)

This novella by Gabriel García Márquez, Columbian novelist and journalist and Nobel Prize winner, explores the events that lead to the killing of a young man. There is no secret that the killing will take place; García Márquez tell us of it in the first line of the novella. The text is not, then, a whodunnit but rather an explication of how such a killing could have happened. Based on a true story, García Márquez unpacks the attitudes, conventions, prejudices and stereotypes that construct and constrain the players in the drama, that create the multiple truths of the tale, and that begin to explain the many points of failure. This is a beautifully written story, at times funny and at others deeply tragic.

First published in 1981 to great acclaim, there is also a film adaptation (made in 1987) of the same name.

Advice to schools: Teachers should be aware that there is a description of a murder at the end of the novella.

Jackson, Shirley, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Penguin Classics, 2009, ISBN 9780141191454 (2)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a 1962 mystery novel, is the final work of American author Shirley Jackson. The theme of persecution of those who exhibit ‘otherness’ is at the forefront of this novel, explored through the protagonists, Merricat and Constance, who become outsiders in a small town and are reviled by the small-minded villagers. This novel revolves around an unsolved crime: the murder of Merricat and Constance’s family six years earlier. Constance was initially blamed for the poisoning but was acquitted at her trial, leaving the public with no clear answer about who was actually to blame. Some aspects of their fraught family life are revealed through the ramblings of slightly confused, wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian, who lives with the girls.

The story is narrated by 18-year-old Merricat, who practises sympathetic magic and frequently imagines living on the moon. Her sister Constance has an anxiety disorder. They have cut themselves off from the outside world since the family tragedy. They are strongly attached to each other, and their isolation appears to be a defence against living by the rules and norms of outside society. The arrival of Cousin Charles threatens to disturb the way they have been living, so Merricat acts to preserve the power they have over their day-to-day lives. They are shunned by the villagers, some of whom later appear to be penitent and try to make amends.

Ogawa, Yōko, The Memory Police, Vintage, 2020, ISBN 9781784700447 (1)

Acclaimed Japanese novelist Yōko Ogawa’s most recent novella, The Memory Police, tells the story of an island where everyday items begin to disappear from the lives of the residents. Memory and knowledge are adjusted with each disappearance, affecting words and language and how individuals can communicate. These disappearances are designed and facilitated by the shadowy Memory Police. The narrator of the novella, herself a novelist, acts to resist the activities of the Memory Police and hides the editor of her books – one of the few people who can remember historical events despite the actions of the Memory Police. The events begin to take a darker turn when the residents begin to lose parts of their bodies.

Tapping into current experiences of cognitive dissonance – where the losses of species and glaciers occur unremarked upon – and harking back to George Orwell’s ‘memory hole’ in 1984, Ogawa provides the reader with a surreal landscape on which to explore contemporary anxieties and issues. The beauty of the writing and her delicate use of language heightens the poignancy of the message of how our stories, our language, our words and our memories not only make us human but can offer solutions to what confronts and challenges us. Without stories and memories, we risk extinction.

Short Stories

Hadley, Tessa, Bad Dreams and Other Stories, Vintage, 2018,
ISBN 9781784704049 (2)

British-based, contemporary author Tessa Hadley appeared on The New York Times Notable Book of the Year list for her short story collection Bad Dreams and Other Stories. Hadley’s short stories are praised for their ability to illuminate ordinary life. This collection captures characters as they face a crucial moment of transition, highlighting ordinary acts and events, elevating them into the extraordinary. The real things that happen to her characters are often as mysterious as their dreams. Hadley explores the large consequences of small actions through mostly female protagonists in the 20th and 21st centuries, capturing their inner thoughts as they face a turning point in their lives, often without realising it.

Hadley’s collection interrogates the lives of characters both young and old. Themes of identity, transformation, social self-awareness, the power of knowledge and the consequences of everyday actions are explored through Hadley’s distinct voice. Hadley’s writing is easily accessible and clear-sighted as she beautifully captures both the predictable and unpredictable nature of people. Students will find her writing offers a great deal of discussion on topics faced in the 21st century.

Munro, Alice, Runaway, Vintage, 2006, ISBN 9780099472254 (4)

This anthology of short stories by the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature conveys the inner lives of Canadian women living in the 20th and 21st centuries, and how they endure the daily trials of modern life. Alice Munro presents and explores the lives of these women through flashbacks and other narrative devices. Many of the stories are connected by characters and plot twists.

Munro’s writing is clear and cogent, but she does not illuminate or offer judgment. Her dialogue is crisp and restrained, allowing readers to be drawn into the inner world of the characters, and it is they who are left to question and query the nature and value of relationships. Munro provides scope for in-depth discussion of modern life, morality and self. Her writing is capacious, with the breadth of a novel and the artistry of the short story form.


Harrison, Jane, ‘Rainbow’s End’, Contemporary Indigenous Plays, Currency Press, 2007, ISBN 9780868197951 (A) (2)

Set on the fringes of the Victorian town of Shepparton in the 1950s, Jane Harrison’s play illuminates the consequences of dispossession and colonisation for Koori peoples. The play opens on the Dear family, living with few possessions and in inadequate housing, listening to reports of the Queen’s tour of Australia. From here, Harrison explores the various ways the Dear family struggles to secure housing and physical safety, contrasting the Menzies’ era of enabling the great Australian dream of home ownership with the realities of systematic discrimination and racism.

While the men in the Dear family are often absent (such as Papa Dear who is away seeking justice and voice for his people) or dangerous (such as Dolly’s cousin), the women of three generations work to maintain and protect their family and to find purpose, joy and love in their lives.

Harrison’s play provides context, understanding, compassion and a way towards reclamation and reconciliation. As Larissa Behrendt suggests in her introduction to the collection, Rainbow’s End ‘is a durable, resilient stone that both builds upon Indigenous traditions but also lays the foundation for the generations that will follow’.

Shakespeare, William, Much Ado About Nothing, Cambridge School Shakespeare, Cambridge University Press, 2014, ISBN 9781107619890 (4)

One of Shakespeare’s comedies, this play features characters from all parts of the social spectrum. Although set in Messina, Italy, the cast of soldiers, nobles, civic officials and women are easily recognisable to the English audiences of Shakespeare’s time and the comedy is typical of Shakespeare’s world.

The text provides value in the verbal sparring between Beatrice and Benedick and the somewhat pathetic pomposity of the constable Dogberry. The treatment of Hero would be seen as outrageous by Tudor audiences as she is framed by the wicked Don John and totally innocent of the charges that make her fiancé, Claudio, cruelly repudiate her. Today’s readers may be horrified to see the double standards of the men in the play who expect one type of behaviour from women and another from themselves. In exploring the fate of Beatrice and Benedick, as well as Hero and Claudio, the text also throws up issues relating to the nature of true love.

Sophocles, ‘Oedipus the King’, The Three Theban Plays, (Robert Fagles, trans.), Penguin Black Classics, 1984, ISBN 9780140444254 (1)

Arguably the most famous of the surviving Greek tragedies, Sophocles’ masterpiece centres on an unbearable tension: the crimes Oedipus is determined to uncover are crimes that he himself has unwittingly committed. In his quest to rid the city of the plague by identifying what had displeased the Gods, he must destroy himself. And, of course, the crimes in question are not ‘ordinary’. Oedipus has broken two of our greatest cultural and social taboos – he has murdered his own father and married his own mother. With such shocking events and a memorable protagonist who seeks truth at any cost, this play offers many entry points to explore character, concerns and language, and contains strong threads of imagery and symbolism.

The translation by Robert Fagles has been selected for its richness and authority. This edition has some interesting supporting material, including a detailed introduction.


Papertalk Green, Charmaine and Kinsella, John, False Claims of Colonial Thieves, Magabala Books, 2018, ISBN 9781925360813 (A) (3)

This unique collaboration between two Western Australian poets, Charmaine Papertalk Green of Yamaji Indigenous heritage and John Kinsella of Anglo-Celtic extraction, sees the two engage in a dialogue that explores the impact of colonisation and how it manifests itself in the modern world. The poems are identified by the initials at the end, either CPG or JK, and often respond directly to each other, so readers get the views of each poet in a kind of conversation between the two. Other poems stand alone and there will be a string of poems by one of the writers with no direct response.

All of the poems are deeply embedded in the Australian landscape and address the themes of dispossession, ownership, dealing with trauma, and personal and cultural identity. Overall, the collection is best described by the poems ‘Simply Yarning’ by Papertalk Green and ‘Yarn Response Poem’ by Kinsella, in which Papertalk Green observes that ‘yarning puts us on common ground’ and Kinsella responds that he will ‘yarn right back at you – it’s what we do when we connect’. Although the book contains poems of powerful indignation, it is ultimately a hopeful collection that in its very structure aspires to bring people together despite their differences.

Wordsworth, William, Poems selected by Seamus Heaney, Faber and Faber, 2005, ISBN 9780571226788 (4)

The poetry of William Wordsworth forms a part of the Romantic movement in England and is partly a challenge to rapid industrialisation that was based on a reductive and exploitative attitude towards nature. His poetry is, above all, an exploration of the power of the natural world in its pristine beauty. To convey the effect of such beauty, Wordsworth’s writing adopts language that aims for greater immediacy and naturalism than was common in the work of earlier poets. Wordsworth’s evocative depictions of the English countryside form the backbone of many poems in this collection. Drawing on his own experiences, he uses the wonder elicited by natural scenery as the starting point for his sophisticated exploration of human feelings, emotions and the complexity of lived experience. The introspective focus of the writing offers rich possibilities for discussion of themes and ideas. The poems vary in length and style, enabling nuanced and varied exploration.

Multimodal Texts


Johnson, Stephen (director), High Ground, 2020 (A) (2)

Set after World War I, this Australian film, employing many of the characteristics of a Western, follows the intersecting stories of two protagonists: World War I veteran Travis, and Gutjuk, a young boy orphaned when his family is massacred by white settlers. When Gutjuk’s uncle Baywarra seeks revenge on the white men who killed his family, Gutjuk enlists the help of Travis to track him down. Filmed and set in the vast landscapes of Arnhem Land, the film addresses the flawed colonial values on which our country was founded, while following Gutjuk’s journey of identity. Additionally, the film addresses issues arising from the unrelenting cycle of anger and presents the brutality and tragedy that can arise from this. (Rating: MA 15)

Advice to schools: Teachers should be aware that some scenes contain violence, both sexual and physical in nature; however, these scenes are utilised by Johnson to contextualise the realities of the colonial impacts on Australia’s First Nations Peoples.

Please note, Departmental advice on the use of MA 15 materials includes the following guidance: ‘MA 15 rating – This resource can only be shown to students who are 15 years or older. Schools should only consider showing MA 15 rated resources to students under the age of 15 in exceptional circumstances where it is critical to deliver the educational program and where parent consent has been obtained. In all cases, students must be supervised by a teacher throughout the viewing/playing.’

Wilder, Billy (director), Sunset Boulevard, 1950 (2)

Joe is a broke and increasingly desperate writer who becomes trapped in a mansion with aging and delusional film star Norma Desmond. He is notionally employed to write a script for her to finally make her come back, but in truth he is only indulging her fantasies while accepting her largesse. Joe’s decline is marked by his growing self-loathing, his hopeless attempt at a double life and his strange affinity with Max, Norma’s servant and chauffeur… and former husband.

A film about films, Sunset Boulevard explores illusion and reality and the often dark world of cinema and celebrity. The character of Norma, in particular, offers insight into the concepts of celebrity and fame, and the price of performance. The film also plays with masculinity and femininity, and how these constructions can imprison and distort.

Sunset Boulevard is, by turns, hilarious and hideous, creepy and comic. It features unsettling, gothic elements including a narrator from beyond the grave, a funeral for a chimpanzee and the full sweep of film noir tropes. It won an Academy Award for best screenplay (also by Billy Wilder). (Rating: PG)


Ottley, Matt, Requiem for a Beast, Lothian Children’s Books, 2007,
ISBN 9780734407962 (A) (2)

Matt Ottley is the author, illustrator and composer of this rich multimodal work, which he describes as consisting of a graphic novel, a picture book, a novella and music. Requiem for a Beast contains two narratives: a young stockman embarks on a journey to understand himself as he pursues a wild bull through outback Queensland and an older Indigenous woman vividly reflects on her experience of the Stolen Generations. The past and present are woven together in both the written text and Ottley’s paintings, with landscapes drawing on generations of Australian oil painting tradition sitting alongside prose and sections laid out as a contemporary graphic novel.

When the Children’s Book Council of Australia awarded the 2008 Book of the Year award to Requiem for a Beast, it evoked controversy due to the challenging and complex nature of the work, asking the reader to consider the ways history impacts on Australian society and individuals today. The young man must confront his past as well as his family and his community’s history of violence against Aboriginal people before he is able to see a way to move forward with his own life. The bull motif appears repeatedly in the imagery, both compelling the man to pursue it and threatening him with a raw power no individual can control. Readers are asked to consider their place in contemporary Australian society and how individual and collective pasts shape our present experiences, as well as the conflict between personal ethics and living as part of a community.

There is music included on a CD, incorporating a chamber orchestra, Latin hymns, and traditional Indigenous music. Teachers may find the music supports their classroom practice, but for the purposes of internal and external assessment, it will not be considered as part of the text.

Non-Fiction Texts

Laveau-Harvie, Vicki, The Erratics, HarperCollins, 2019,
ISBN 9781460758250 (A) (3)

Vicki Laveau-Harvie’s memoir explores the impact of her mother’s mental illness on various members of her family. Laveau-Harvie returns to Alberta, Canada to support her father during her mother’s final illness and hospitalisation. Using the visit to frame the story, Laveau-Harvie probes the painful history of her family and the enduring repercussions of her mother’s abusive behaviour. In doing so, she confronts various aspects of her earlier life and gains a new layer of insight into her parents’ relationship. The memoir explores the critical role that interpersonal relationships play in our lives, while highlighting the devastating impacts of mental illness on the individual and those who are connected to them. The limits of family loyalty are questioned through difficult choices that reveal individuals’ priorities.

Narrated in an intensely personal manner, Laveau-Harvie’s recollections also raise questions about the nature of memory and the subjectivity of individual perceptions and experiences. Readers are able to explore the extent to which the writer’s responses to the individuals around her constitute a fair and nuanced account of highly complex and traumatic experiences.

Noah, Trevor, Born a Crime, John Murray Press, 2017,
ISBN 97814736375%2 (2)

The product of a mixed-race relationship at a time when such a union was illegal, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood recounts his experiences growing up during and after Apartheid. Frank, funny and at times shocking, Noah’s memoir offers a contemporary perspective on race issues and examines the ensuing social and economic disenfranchisement he experienced as he grew up. As such, he explores the impact of poverty and marginalisation, and the difficulties of forging an identity in a society that sees his very existence as a criminal act.

Over the course of the memoir, Noah details his early childhood with his mother’s family and then his stepfather, his high school years navigating the world of girls, and his journey to becoming an entrepreneur, selling bootleg CDs to the local bus drivers and his broader community. Woven into Noah’s reflections and anecdotes is the story of his mother, Patricia – a devout, independent woman striving to protect her son from the dangers of their world. Both a strict disciplinarian and a deeply loving woman, Patricia is celebrated for her strength and courage. She is a mother who understands the reality of her country and its history, and is determined to teach her son about surviving in it.

Advice to schools: Teachers should be aware that there are some confronting scenes depicting racial and domestic violence. However, the scenes contextualise Noah’s life experiences as a mixed-race child living in South Africa and are ultimately tempered by Noah’s humour, strength and resilience as he comes to understand his life.

List 2

Personal Journeys

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, ‘The Danger of a Single Story’, TEDGlobal 2009 (1)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a celebrated author of short stories and novels. In her TED talk, ‘The Danger of a Single Story’, she weaves together a series of personal anecdotes and literary theories to posit that it is necessary to create space for diverse stories.

Beginning with her own personal experiences with reading as a child in Nigeria, she identifies that she ‘did not know that people like [her] could exist in literature’. This is because the children’s books that she read came from the United Kingdom and did not fully reflect her own experiences and reality. Adichie moves on to identify moments in her life when she limited others to a single story and was limited by others’ perceptions of her. She makes it clear that her own personal journey as a ‘middle-class’ Nigerian has not been well-reflected in literature due to the pervasive narrative that Africa is a land of ‘catastrophe’ and ‘incomprehensible people’. She condemns single stories because they ‘rob people of their dignity’. Building on this concept, she argues for the need to tell more complete stories, rather than fueling stereotypes. Throughout the speech, Adichie uses humour, including self-deprecating humour, to expose how easy it can be to believe these single stories.

Students can explore personal journeys from those who are not often highlighted in the Australian media landscape or consider arguing for more inclusive storytelling. They can consider the use of personal anecdotes, thesis statements and humour to put forward their message.

Duong, Amy, ‘The Red Plastic Chair is a Vietnamese Cultural Institution, and My Anchor’, 2020 SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition, SBS (online), (posted 2 November 2020; updated September 2021) (A) (1)

Amy Duong’s memoir was published in 2021 as part of SBS Australia’s Emerging Writers Competition. A daughter of Vietnamese refugees, Duong’s piece is not about her own personal journey; rather, it is a reflection on the hardships and sacrifices her family made in coming to Australia before she was born.

Duong begins her piece by homing in on the titular plastic red chairs, items that may initially be seen as mundane and merely utilitarian, yet serve as an integral part of Duong’s identity and Vietnamese culture at large. These chairs are a catalyst for childhood memories, musings, regrets and an uncomfortable reckoning with the past. Just as Duong refers to the chairs as an ‘anchor’ to her past, she uses the motif of red chairs to structure her piece. These chairs have been ubiquitous throughout her life, and are ever present throughout the story. At every important turn, the red chairs are there in the background.

Duong ruminates on the disconnect she feels from her aunt and mother as a first generation Australian: her limited grasp of the Vietnamese language, her privilege of not knowing the same adversity as her elders and her own complicity in creating a generational divide within her family. Her writing is sharp, personable and authentic. Although anecdotal and conversational in tone, Duong also uses purposeful descriptive language to enhance the emotional and challenging aspects of her family history.

Although specific to her own unique experiences, students could use Duong’s ideas to explore items of cultural, historical or nostalgic value and how these symbolise literal or metaphorical journeys.

Hodge, Maya, ‘bidngen’, 2021 SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition, SBS (online), (posted 10 November 2021) (A) (1)

First published in 2021 as part of SBS Australia’s Emerging Writers Competition and now part of Between Two Worlds, an anthology of stories from the competition, Maya Hodge’s ‘bidngen’ features an unnamed narrator who reflects on the important role that memories, culture and stories have played in shaping her.

The narrator recounts her childhood in a town ‘festering with racism and drugs’, yet in spite of the hardships and poverty her family endured, they were able to ‘[stitch] the house together with love’. Hodge highlights the strength of Indigenous women and how it is passed down through the generations. Indeed, her intention to pay tribute to this strength is evident through the fact that the title ‘bidngen’ means ‘women’ in the Lardil language.

The power of storytelling is a central theme, with Hodge highlighting that stories not only serve to connect us with our culture and memories but that they can be a source of comfort and healing. The narrator recalls her grandmother reading fairytales to her and how reading allowed her to feel ‘the scars inside her softly close over’. She also explores how stories can be told through music as she picks up her violin and ‘lets the stories of her people pour from her fingers into steel strings’. Hodge’s use of subheadings highlights that, while seemingly unconnected, all of these memories allow us to gain an understanding of the narrator’s journey and what has shaped her. Additionally, the fact that these headings are written in the Lardil language emphasise that language and culture are central to her identity and that she needs to constantly navigate living between two worlds.

Students can explore the importance of language, culture and storytelling in their own journeys and can experiment with incorporating subheadings and phrases in languages other than English in their own writing.

López, Matthew, Walter’s speech (end of Part 1) from The Inheritance, ‘The Walter Project – Matthew López & The AIDS Memorial’, posted 1 December 2020 (1)

The Inheritance, first performed in 2018, is a contemporary two-part play exploring the legacy of AIDS on the gay community in New York City. ‘Walter’s speech’ is an extract from the end of Part 1 in which Walter is speaking with his young friend Eric about how he came to own the ‘rambling old farmhouse’. The house was purchased at the height of the AIDS crisis by Walter and his partner at that time, Henry. Located far away from the bustling city, ‘there was no illness’. While Henry wishes to shut the virus away, Walter realises that ‘the answer was not to shut the world out, but rather to fling the doors open and invite it in’. This difference of view proves irreconcilable and Henry leaves the house to Walter. A series of young men who have AIDS and have nowhere else to go, come to stay with Walter at the farmhouse, and ‘one by one, they died there’. Despite the gravity and melancholy of the journeys that these young men take, Walter’s reflection focuses on the courage and resilience of his community. Lopez symbolises Walter’s compassion through ‘an enormous cherry tree’, which superstition suggests has ‘pig’s teeth’ stuck deep within the bark. The tree is believed to cure all illnesses. Yet as it blazes through the seasons, the lives of countless young men continue to be cut short by a virus that was ignored and stigmatised by the wider community.

Students can explore how the younger generation can learn about the journeys of those who have come before them, experimenting with symbolism and the significance of setting in their own writing.


Gay, Virginia, Monologue from Cyrano, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (official channel), Q+A episode broadcast 9 September 2021 (A) (1)

This monologue from Virginia Gay’s ‘freely adapt[ed] and reimagin[ed]’ Edmond Rostand’s 19th play Cyrano de Bergerac as a positive, queer and feminist story. The monologue, performed by Gay, engages with the thrill of falling in love, playing with the possibilities of the future and indulging in imaginings of limitless joys.

Offered as a stumbling and intimate stream of consciousness, the monologue presents a long, lovely list of experiences and actions – travel, work, home, food, drink, children, guests – through evocative vocabulary and language features. Gay employs questions to engage directly with the audience, positioned as her surrogate lover. She proposes ideas only to retreat from them, or to have them both exist as mutual truths. There is aching sensuality and everyday pragmatism side by side, and every word is suffused with hope and optimism.

Students can play with looking forward with hope and joy to an unfolding future, exploring mischievous vocabulary and figurative language, or with looking backwards to events of the past with the same uplifting tones. The exploration of promise and faith can often go missing in contemporary writings; this mentor text provides space to experiment with that voice.

Note: In the play, this monologue is a dialogue between the lovers.

Roffey, Chelsea, ‘An Open Letter to Doubting Thomas’, From the Outer (Nicole Hayes and Alicia Sometimes, eds.), Black Inc, 2016, ISBN 9781863958288
(A) (1)

‘An Open Letter to Doubting Thomas’ is the first entry in the 2016 collection From the Outer, which presents 30 voices celebrating the many experiences of supporters of the AFL. The author, Chelsea Roffey, was the first woman to officiate at an AFL Grand Final. Roffey’s letter invites readers to reflect on views about gender and the role of umpires in game-playing.

Published years before the AFL issued a formal apology for the ‘horrendous treatment of female umpires’*, Roffey’s text raises questions about the ways in which playing a game can reveal society’s unacknowledged values and how confronting these can lead to profound change. The extended open letter form allows Roffey the freedom to present ideas using both formal and informal conventions and hence models how traditional structures can be subverted. Her letter reveals the courage involved in challenging traditions played out in games and how boundaries can be redefined by confronting those playing behaviours that are all too real.

The letter format invites students to consider the power of explicitly addressing an audience. Roffey’s use of tone, including the interplay of irony and mockery, models ways in which a writer achieves ‘voice’. Her use of allusion will open a world of opportunity for students to enrich their own writing by building on the ideas and philosophies of others. The personal style adopted with its effective use of understatement, humour and imagery demonstrates how appropriate debate can be instigated about contentious topics.

(*Dr Victoria Rawlings is the author of the report that triggered the apology.)

Russon, Penni, ‘All That We Know of Dreaming’, Something Special, Something Rare, Black Inc, 2015, ISBN 9781863957298 (A) (1)

Dr Penni Russon is an award-winning author of novels for children and young adults. This captivating short story (her first short story for adults) was published in 2009 in The Big Issue Fiction Edition and then picked up by Delia Falconer for Black Inc’s Best Australian Stories 2009 and, Something Special, Something Rare: Outstanding Short Stories by Australian Women (2015). It was written when Russon and her family were living in Victoria, near the Kinglake area bushfire.

Russon uses the short story form to explore the rich reflections, vibrant memories and striking daydreams of a mother who has ‘stopped dreaming’ as she moves through an autumn day. The distinct, first-person voice gives rise to these playful reveries that allow Russon to unveil the intimacy of our most precious relationships. Her mastery of imagery and figurative language bring to life the pleasures of childhood, the satisfaction of raising a family in an orchard and the vibrant countryside setting. However, something darker lurks in her drifting thoughts and it is moments of playful reminiscing and vivid reflection that take the edge off the narrator’s unknown pain as well as reduce the severity of loneliness and death. Russon leaves us asking: Why do we dream? What role do dreams play? What power can dreams hold? This demonstrates how students could, within the short story form, use voice, imagery and figurative language to add depth and complexity when writing about play.

Winton, Tim, ‘About the Boys’, The Guardian (online) (A) (1)

‘About the Boys’ is an excerpt from a speech made by Tim Winton and published as a feature article by The Guardian in April 2018. In it he explores rituals that limit and constrain boys and ways to liberate them from ‘the race, the game, the fight’. Winton raises questions about how gender is formed through childhood and the way that boys ‘play’ at becoming men. He uses a conversational tone and his personal experience to legitimise the theories that he has formed by watching boys in the surfing community.

Through powerful allusion Winton suggests that young people look for cues from the flawed adult world to shape their role-playing and their ‘rehearsal’ for adulthood. He presents a stark and compelling picture of a bleak and dangerous situation. His transition between pronouns is one way he presents a confronting challenge to the reader and the Australian community. The text stresses ideas about the impact of ‘silence’ in the face of ‘misogynistic trash talk’. Alliteration and repetitive sentence structures are employed to draw the reader into understanding the ‘first step’ that Winton believes is necessary to change the future for young men and our community.

Through imagery and figurative language, Winton explores what is offered to young men to replace ‘the coherence of tradition’. This allows the reader to envisage both the problem and its consequences. His writing models how to discuss social problems in a challenging and yet respectful way.

This text illustrates the language features students could use to create an informal, authentic voice to project authority into their own writing about the experience of childhood and the way young people’s play reflects society’s underlying beliefs and values.

Advice to schools: Teachers should note there is some use of expletives in this text.


Chekhov, Anton, ‘Gooseberries’, The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Wife and Other Stories, (updated 10 September 2016) (1)

Considered a master of the short story form, Chekhov recounts the story of two men travelling together and their overnight stay at the estate of a third man. Written in 1898, ‘Gooseberries’ interrogates ideas of happiness and fulfilment, enlivened by imagination of the pastoral.

Considered an early Modernist, Chekhov was concerned with the social mores and class interactions prior to the turn of the 20th century. He developed many of the formal innovations that characterise contemporary short fiction. Laced with understatement, Chekhov’s works at times abandon an identifiable narrative arc, in favour of feeling and internalised character development.

In this story-within-a-story, the narrator Ivan recounts the experience of his brother Nikolai, who lives a frugal life in pursuit of his tree-change dream of a small holding where he might grow the eponymous “gooseberries”. Yet as his dream is fulfilled, his manner and attitude become decidedly bitter, illuminating a critique of the nobility and land ownership, suggesting an hypothesis of humility being a true source of happiness.

In the story, students will find ample opportunity to identify hallmarks of the modern short story form and may be encouraged to adopt elements of Chekhov’s style, such as the employment of pathetic fallacy, imagery and sensory description. With the story posing more questions than it does answers, students may be intrigued to experiment with engendering depth and complexity in their own writing through the use of extended metaphor or embedded narrative.

Clarke, Maxine Beneba, Chapter 2, The Hate Race, Hachette, 2018,
ISBN 9780733640421 (A) (1)

Maxine Beneba Clarke’s writing is concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in contemporary Australia. Drawn from her memoir The Hate Race, this chapter details her parents’ arrival in Australia and settlement in the newly developed suburb of Kellyville, in 1976. Throughout the collection, Clarke exposes the weaponry of language to show its power to hurt, maim and isolate those who are considered different in Australian society. Her migration and settlement story draws on her West Indian British heritage. Clarke’s ideas about belonging and inclusion in a land and country dissimilar to that of her parents’ heritage and experience is a core concern of this piece.

The register of Clarke’s writing reflects her slam poetry roots, the patois of her forebears and refrains and elements of Batuque. Written in the third person about Bordeaux and Cleopatra, the language is rich and evocative, injecting superlatives and adjectival artistry to capture the magnitude of the experience for the young couple, and the ongoing dislocation of their settlement. The ominously named touchpoints of their unfamiliar environment signal the exclusion and disempowerment they are met with.

Students will recognise the universality of the experience of encountering something new and overwhelming and may be inspired by Clarke’s writing to explore stories of their own forebears, or personal experiences of encountering an unfamiliar landscape or culture. This text is aptly named The Hate Race because it reflects Clarke’s experience and the visceral effects of growing up in modern Australia and the racism, prejudice and exclusion that has shaped her.

Kassab, Yumna, ‘The Conquest of Land and Dream’, Meanjin (Spring 2021) (A) (1)

Yumna Kassab is an Australian writer who often writes about the interaction between place and identity. In ‘The Conquest of Land and Dream,’ published in 2021 in the Melbourne-based literary magazine Meanjin, she explores ideas of possession and sovereignty, naming and words, farming and mining. The piece deals with the attempts of migrants to exploit, control and understand new lands, and in the case of Australia, the impacts on First Nations Peoples.

A sense of unease permeates the piece as Kassab writes in second-person perspective, with an almost accusatory ‘you’, to detail the homogenisation and horrors wrought by colonisation on this vast and varied land. Kassab paints a stark and dark picture of dispossession: it is a ‘burial site … covered with denial’.

There are five subheadings that structure the piece: Terra nullius; Marks and lines; Homogenous; The supremacy of tongue; Conquest the ideal. These subheadings move the piece through time and subject matter, from the arrival of the British to more modern migration involving asylum seekers. The metaphor of the tower is used to show the ways that claims about possessing Australia are maintained: ‘You build a structure … ignore the knock on the door … The tower is now a fortress and … your control is complete’.

Students could experiment with the use of second-person narration and reflect on their family’s stories of migration, dispossession or connection to place, as well as their own relationship with and understanding of Australian history.

Lynch, Cassie, ‘Split’, Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now (Ellen van Neerven, ed.), University of Queensland Press, 2021, ISBN 9780702263033 (A) (1)

A Western Australian author and descendent of the Noongar people, Cassie Lynch explores the divide between traditional indigenous connection to Country and the modern, post-colonial treatment of the land through the recurrent motif of the ancient river that runs through – and divides – Perth.

The narrator follows Perth from its creation by the serpent Wagyl to the hustle and bustle of its central business district; people using the land without acknowledging it. The story asserts that while settlers developed and changed the land through the process of colonising it, they have never been fully conscious of its history or importance, damaging it in equal measure.

Lynch extends this idea of ‘split’ country, the duality between the old and the new Swan River, and the gap between First Nations and Settler peoples themselves through her illustrative use of language. A blend of magical realism and traditional storytelling techniques and vibrant descriptions of nature clash with cold, contemporary practices, though with some hope that a balance and compromise between the two disparate landscapes can be achieved. This contrast highlights the importance of knowing the history of one’s country, while encouraging a spiritual connection to it.


Gillespie, Mark, ‘Friday Essay: On the Sydney Mardi Gras March of 1978’, The Conversation (posted 19 February 2016) (A) (1)

‘Friday Essay: On the Sydney Mardi Gras March of 1978’, published on 19 February 2016, explores the ‘momentous events’ of political protest in ‘Sydney between June and August 1978’. Anthropologist and author Mark Gillespie, from the University of Sydney, explores ideas of equality and the importance of compensation for the LGBTIQ+ community for decades of ostracism, abuse and discrimination.

Gillespie’s structure shifts from contemporary 2016 to the day of the iconic 1978 Mardi Gras protest and celebration, the 1985 HIV epidemic in Sydney, and then returns to a present-day reflection. As Gillespie focuses on each aspect of defining moments in LGBTIQ+ movements, he reflects on his experiences and highlights his concerns for his future. His reflections are sharpened with direct quotes from the protests and photographic images of banners of celebration, police brutality and a police officer dancing and celebrating with the protesters.

The language of the article is both vulnerable and stoic, directly addressing the bureaucratic systems that failed the writer and the community. It connects personal reflection with facts, and honestly considers the value of an apology in light of the events of the past. Gillespie’s celebration of protest reinforces its importance and highlights that the journey is far from over.

Students could explore the use of a personal reflection, or a historical reflection, experimenting with a hybrid of factual and sentimental styles within their own writings.

Pankhurst, Emmeline, ‘Freedom or Death’, The Guardian (online) ‘Great Speeches of the 20th Century’ (series) (1)

Considered one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century, ‘Freedom or Death’ by activist Emmeline Pankhurst was delivered at Parsons Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut on 13 November 1913. Pankhurst, a vocal and passionate believer in a woman’s right to vote, founded the British suffragette movement and spent four decades protesting against the inequality of voting rights.

Pankhurst’s speech shimmers with intensity and energy as she speaks of the requirement for revolutionary actions – defending the use of violence – and ‘militant’ tactics in the fight for equal rights. Gender discrimination and basic human rights are also referenced. Pankhurst’s speech is an example of the potency of language, inclusive of the connotative power of single words. Throughout the speech, Pankhurst speaks as a ‘soldier’. Under threat of further imprisonment for speaking out many times prior, Pankhurst draws from the language and imagery of battle extensively.

‘Freedom or Death’ demonstrates the speaker’s strong capacity for persuasion and their clear consideration of context, purpose and audience. Pankhurst expertly utilises metaphor and repetition to highlight how deliberate language choices can convey passion, strength and commitment. ‘Freedom or Death’ is a highly powerful example of protest. In the face of continued female oppression, this call to action still resonates on many levels today.

Students could focus on figurative language and extended metaphor in their own work, using Pankhurst’s text as a model.

Vonnegut, Kurt, ‘Harrison Bergeron’, Welcome to the Monkey House, Vintage Classics, 2021, ISBN 9781784877033 (1)

‘Harrison Bergeron’, written in 1961, presents a dystopian society in which all citizens are deemed ‘finally equal’. Almost immediately, however, darkly satirical author Kurt Vonnegut explores ideas of authoritarianism and freedom while positing the pertinent question: is total equality really something worth fighting for?

The titular character is presented as the epitome of defiance in a world that attempts to control the masses through ‘handicaps’ forced on citizens to ensure equality. Vonnegut employs a traditional short story structure, opening with the date (2081) and an impossible statement of social equality. As the story unfolds, each added detail (the ‘mental handicap radio’ that emits sounds that ‘scatter … thoughts’, the ‘canvas bags’ with ‘birdshot’ individuals are forced to wear) contests the authority of the opening line and sets a challenge to the reader.

The language of the story is at once comedic and tragic; the silliness of the solutions employed to create equality juxtaposed against the suffering of George and the ballerinas, and the lack of beauty, intelligence and joy for any member of society. Harrison’s protest is both painful and futile. Students could explore the use of satire as a form of protest, experimenting with irony and wit in their own writings.

Wyatt, Meyne, Monologue from City of Gold, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (official channel), Q+A episode broadcast 8 June 2020 (A) (1)

In this monologue, taken from the highly acclaimed 2019 play City of Gold, Indigenous actor and writer Meyne Wyatt presents an angry, urgent message from a man tired of ignorance, prejudice and perhaps most frustratingly: acquiescence from white Australian society.

Initially, Wyatt explores ideas of tokenism and casual racism within Australian society, before angrily shifting tone to the consequences of such racism: the ongoing mental and physical effects to Australia’s First Nations people. Wyatt’s play is loosely based on his life and experiences, and this performance of the monologue on Australia’s Q&A was presented during an episode that discussed Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Wyatt bookends his monologue with the motif of being forced to ‘sit down’ and ‘stay humble’ as an Indigenous man in Australia, detailing his own experiences in the entertainment industry and using the example of the sustained racism Adam Goodes endured during the 2015 AFL season. Moreover, Wyatt’s use of repetition serves as a reminder of the cyclical nature of violence and discrimination against First Nations people, making his ultimate refusal to ‘be quiet, be humble and sit down’ a powerful protest against such treatment.

Students could explore the use of monologue as a form of protest, experimenting with tone shift, lyricism and repetition in their own writings.

Advice to schools: Teachers should note that there is some explicit language in this monologue, however, it serves to contextualise Wyatt’s frustration and is not gratuitous in nature.