Cross-curriculum priorities

The Australian Curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students by delivering a relevant, contemporary and engaging curriculum that builds on the educational goals of the Melbourne Declaration. The Melbourne Declaration identified three key areas that need to be addressed for the benefit of  individuals and Australia as a whole. In the Australian Curriculum these have become priorities that provide students with the tools and language to engage with and better understand their world at a range of levels. The priorities provide dimensions which will enrich the curriculum through development of considered and focused content that fits naturally within learning areas. They enable the delivery of learning area content at the same time as developing knowledge, understanding and skills relating to

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
  • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, and
  • Sustainability.

Cross-curriculum priorities are addressed through learning areas and are identified wherever they are developed or applied in content descriptions. They are also identified where they offer opportunities to add depth and richness to student learning in content elaborations. They will have a strong but varying presence depending on their relevance to the learning area.

 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Across the Australian Curriculum, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures priority provides opportunities for all learners to deepen their knowledge of Australia by engaging with the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. Students will understand that contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities are strong, resilient, rich and diverse. The knowledge and understanding gained through this priority will enhance the ability of all young people to participate positively in the ongoing development of Australia.

The Australian Curriculum: Geography values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and perspectives.

The  Australian Curriculum: Geography emphasises the relationships people have with place and their interconnection with the environments in which they live. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures priority provides the opportunity for students to develop a deeper understanding of these concepts by investigating the thousands of years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connection to land, water and sky and the knowledge and practices that developed as a result of these experiences. Students will examine the effects of European colonisation on people and environments. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures priority also contributes to an understanding of spatial inequalities in human welfare, sustainable development and human rights.

The Australian Curriculum: Geography curriculum also enables students to learn that there are different ways of thinking about and interacting with the environment. It integrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' use of the land, governed by a holistic, spiritually-based connection to Country and Place, with the continuing influence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples on Australian places, and in environmental management and regional economies.

In including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and practices, and engaging with communities and local and regional environments, students develop a wide range of critical and creative thinking skills. Students explore ways of experiencing landscapes by conducting fieldwork with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and reading, listening to, or performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ explanations of the origins of particular landforms.

Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia

Across the Australian curriculum, this priority will ensure that students learn about and recognise the diversity within and between the countries of the Asia region. They will develop knowledge and understanding of Asian societies, cultures, beliefs and environments, and the connections between the peoples of Asia, Australia, and the rest of the world. Asia literacy provides students with the skills to communicate and engage with the peoples of Asia so they can effectively live, work and learn in the region.

In the Australian Curriculum: Geography, students are provided with rich contexts to investigate the interrelationships between diverse places, environments and peoples in the Asia region.

The Australian Curriculum: Geography also enables students to study Asia as an important region of the world. Students can explore groups of countries, individual countries, or specific regions and locations within countries. In doing so, they develop knowledge and skills that help foster intercultural understanding as they come to appreciate the diversity that exists between and within the countries of Asia, and how this diversity influences the way people perceive and interact with places and environments.

Students also learn about the ways in which Australia and Asia are interconnected, both environmentally and socially, and how transnational collaboration supports the notion of shared and sustainable futures within the Asia region.


Across the Australian Curriculum, sustainability will allow all young Australians to develop the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for them to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living. It will enable individuals and communities to reflect on ways of interpreting and engaging with the world. The Sustainability priority is futures-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action. Actions that support more sustainable patterns of living require consideration of environmental, social, cultural and economic systems and their interdependence.

In the Australian Curriculum: Geography, this priority is strengthened through the geographical concept of sustainability. Together, the sustainability priority and concept afford rich and engaging learning opportunities and purposeful contexts through which students can develop and apply geographical understanding. It supports an integrated approach to human and environmental geography and furthers the development of inquiry skills through examination of a range of contemporary issues related to sustainability. Geography enables students to develop a holistic understanding of human dependence on the environment. It provides opportunities for students to integrate their study of biophysical processes with investigations of the attitudinal, demographic, social, economic and political influences on human use and management of the environment. It enables students to explore how worldviews influence these relationships and interactions with the environment.

In Geography, students examine the effects of human activities on environments, including how human usage of resources affects ecosystems, and how challenges to sustainability, and strategies to address these, vary from place to place. Students evaluate these strategies to determine their effects on environments, economies and societies and how they contribute to actions that support more sustainable patterns of living.

Back to top