Franklin River debate: 1983
The museum’s Schools Learning team have recently undertaken a significant refresh of one of our most popular onsite school programs—Franklin River Debate: 1983.
Franklin River Debate: 1983 consists of an object based workshop activity and re-enacting a significant debate in an historic parliamentary chamber. Designed for Years 4 to 7, students explore and discuss reasons for and against building a dam on the Franklin River in Tasmania’s south-west wilderness area.
The main focus of the refresh was to interrogate the program content and structure, and strengthen the links with the new Australian Curriculum, specifically for History but also Geography, English and Civics and Citizenship subject areas. The themes covered in the program relate directly to content covered in the classroom, such as how to manage and value the environment; State and Federal rights; and the importance of having a say in a democracy. The workshop activities are designed to encourage students to work in groups to interrogate real objects like an ancient fish fossil, and discuss differing viewpoints on issues. This social and hands-on learning experience helps students to understand different perspectives around world heritage, hydro-electricity, job opportunities and democratic rights.
The workshop activities are run in a specifically designed workshop space. This space was used as the Bills and Papers Office from the 1960s until 1988 when the Provisional Parliament House closed as a working parliament building. The Lamson network (a system of pneumatic tubes) was extended to connect the Office to the House of Representatives Chamber in 1967, which meant that reports, petitions and Bills could be sent quickly to and from the chamber. Today, this is the only functioning part of the Lamson network, and is now used in the program Franklin River Debate: 1983 to demonstrate heritage technology. Students send a copy of the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 from the workshop space up to the House of Representatives chamber using a replica Lamson carrier—they are always excited to see and hear the Act being sucked into the tube on its way to the chamber.
Students tell us the program is ‘interesting’, ‘fun’ and ‘awesome’. Teachers tell us they are particularly impressed by the relevance of the program to what they are doing back at school.