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 both 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
  • 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: History values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. It celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories as part of the shared history belonging to all Australians.

Students will examine historical perspectives from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewpoint. They will learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples prior to colonisation by the British, the ensuing contact and its impacts. They will examine key policies and political movements over the last two centuries. Students will develop an awareness of the significant roles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people in Australian society.

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: History, the priority of Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia provides rich and engaging content and contexts for developing students’ historical knowledge, understanding and skills.

The Australian Curriculum: History enables students to develop an understanding of histories of the diverse peoples of Asia and their contributions to the region and the world, and an appreciation of the importance of the region for Australia and the world. This happens as students learn about the importance of the traditions, beliefs and celebrations of peoples from the Asia region and through the study of ancient societies, trade, conflicts, progressive movements and migration to Australia by people from Asia.

In this learning area, students recognise the dynamic nature of socio-political relationships within the region over time, and the role that individuals, governments and other organisations play in shaping relationships between peoples and countries. They develop an appreciation of the history of Australia-Asia engagement and how this influences contemporary relationships within Australian society and relationships between Australia and the countries of Asia. Students also understand the ongoing role played by Australia and individual Australians, including Australians of Asian heritage, in major events and developments in 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: History, the priority of sustainability provides a context for developing students’ historical knowledge, understanding and skills. It assists students in understanding the forces that influence continuity and change.

The Australian Curriculum: History provides content that supports the development of students’ world views, particularly in relation to judgments about past social and economic systems, and access to and use of the Earth’s resources. It provides opportunities for students to develop an historical perspective on sustainability. Making decisions about sustainability to help shape a better future requires an understanding of how the past relates to the present, and needs to be informed by historical trends and experiences.

In this learning area, students develop understanding, for example, of the changes in environments over time, the role played by individuals and communities in protecting environments, the emergence of farming and settled communities, the development of the Industrial Revolution and the growth of population, the overuse of natural resources and the rise of environmental movements.

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