Lesson 5: ANZAC and the Australian identity


Australia had only been a federal commonwealth for 13 years when World War I began in 1914. The government was keen to support the British motherland in the conflict and joined with New Zealand to form part of an allied expedition to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula.

What happened at Gallipoli is well known and the courage, determination, endurance and mateship demonstrated by the soldiers helped to form Australia’s identity. The ANZAC legend and the values associated with it continue to shape the way many Australians view themselves and have become an important part of our national identity.

In this lesson, students will reflect on their identity, the Australian identity and how past events or people helped shape us. Students will learn about the values of the ANZAC legend and why these values and characteristics are still important today.

Links to Australian Curriculum


  • Use historical terms and concepts.
  • Explore the contribution of individuals and groups to the development of Australian identity.

Civics and Citizenship

  • Develop questions to investigate the society in which they live.
  • Consider how values can create and promote cohesion within a society.

Learning outcomes

Participating in this lesson will help students to achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Students will consider how identities are formed and shaped.
  • Students will explore how the values of the ANZAC legend have contributed to Australia’s national identity.


You will need:

  • ‘I am’ activity sheet
  • ‘Australian identity’ activity sheet

Please note: Some of the content in this lesson may be upsetting for students. It is advised that teachers use their discretion when selecting the proposed activities for use in their classroom.

Lesson steps

As a class, ask students what they think the word ‘identity’ means. Record responses. How are our identities shaped? Individually (without talking to a partner) ask students to record words that describe their identity on the ‘I am’ activity sheet.

Students to share the words with a partner and discuss how they came to be all of these things. Which events or people in their lives shaped their identity? Create a class list of ideas. Now provide pairs of students with the ‘Australian identity’ activity sheet. Students to write words that they think describe the Australian people or nation. They may want to consider key events in Australia’s history or how they think people from other countries view us. Share these ideas.

In small groups, ask students to think about the people who served in World War I and share the values and/or characteristics that they had. Some responses may include: courageous, brave, mateship, strong, heroes, friendship, dedication, etc.

Ask students to compare the words they used to describe the Australian nation or people and those used to describe the people who served in World War I. Which words overlap and which are unique to one category?

As a final reflection, ask students to record how they think the values demonstrated by the ANZAC soldiers have contributed to Australia’s national identity. They can do this in writing, pictures or as an audio recording.

Additional cross-curricular activities

Here are some suggested extra activities to extend the students’ learning.


  • Students to prepare a presentation titled, ‘Why I am proud to be Australian’.
  • Students to select one of the values discussed and write an acrostic poem describing the characteristics of it.

Civics and Citizenship

  • Students to write about a time where they demonstrated one or more of the ANZAC values.
  • Students to choose one of the values that they feel they need to improve in themselves, then write an action plan describing how they will try and demonstrate this value more often.
  • Discuss: “Gallipoli became the common tie forged in adversity that bound the colonies and people of Australia into a nation.” (www.army.gov.au) What do students think this means?