This webquest was developed by the team at WebQuest Direct for Old Parliament House, Canberra, Australia to complement their exhibition The Petrov Affair. The content for this webquest was written by the Old Parliament House Education team and Frances Moore of WebQuest Direct.
This is an Australian History unit of work. There are three steps to this webquest:
Step 1: The Petrov Affair. This section asks students to investigate the 1954 Petrov Affair. They are to do this from the perspective of an Historian, a Journalist or a Social Commentator.
Step 2: The Royal Commission. This section involves the class conducting a Royal Commission. There are four Royal Commissioners (including the teacher). The rest of the students are to be either the character (who now becomes a witness), a brain’s trust or an exhibit specialist.
Step 3: Conclusion and Recommendations. Students are to take part in a class discussion and present recommendations to Old Parliament House, to be placed on the WebQuest site.
This webquest has been designed for students in Years 9 – 12 studying Post World War II Australia, particularly Australia’s response to communism.
Students should know about the Cold War and the spread of Communism before commencing this WebQuest.
As this WebQuest involves many skills on the part of the students, it is recommended that you allocate the roles of Historian, Social Commentator and Journalist to students who will best suit these roles.
The Royal Commission requires role play on the part of some students: those who will be the witnesses (9) and the Royal Commissioners (3). As the teacher, you will also be required to take an active role in the Royal Commission by being the Chief Royal Commissioner.
The size of character teams will depend on the size of the class. Each team should, at least, have the character and one other supporting member.
All steps are important. The Conclusion allows the students to use History to inform them of the present. As a result, the discussion question is vital. ‘What can we learn about contemporary issues of fear and security from Australia’s reaction to the threat of communism in the 1950s?’
Old Parliament House will be grateful to receive any recommendations from these class discussions and they will be placed on this WebQuest site.
- University of Wollongong, The State and the Communist Party of Australia: Surveillance of Dissident Politics, 1945 – 1955 by Glenn Mitchell
- Fitzgerald, Ross, The Pope’s Battalions: Santamaria, Catholicism and the Labor Split, Queensland University Press, ISBN 0 7022 33897
- Hirst, J., Australia’s Democracy; A Short History, Ch 4, ‘Threats to Democracy 1920 – 1970’, 2002
- Horne, Donald, 10 Steps to a more tolerant Australia, Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 2003
- Lowe, David, Australia’s Cold War 1948 – 1954, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 1999.
- Manne, Robert, The Petrov Affair. Politics and Espionage, Pergamon, Sydney, 1987.
- McKnight, David, Australia’s Spies and their Secrets, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1994.
- McKnight, David, Espionage and the Roots of the Cold War: The Conspiratorial Heritage, Frank Cass, London, 2002.
- Petrov, Vladimir and Evdokia, Empire of Fear, Andre Deutsch, London, 1956.
This WebQuest is expected to take 4 - 5 weeks of class time including the holding of the Royal Commission.
- Step 1: 1.5 weeks;
- Step 2: 2.5 weeks; and
- Step 3: Double period.
Australian National Curriculum Profile: Studies of Society and Environment
Applicable to the Outcomes for ‘Time, Continuity and Change’ for Levels 5, 6, 7 and 8:
- 5.1a – Describes the significant ideas, people or events that have contributed to Australian identity;
- 5.3 – Interprets people’s motives and actions from various perspectives;
- 6.1a – Describes and explains lasting and changing aspects of Australian Society and the environments;
- 6.2 – Categorises different types of historical change;
- 6.3 – Critically compares representations of people, events and issues;
- 7.1a – Critically analyses the ways core values of Australian society have endured or changed over time;
- 7.1b – Analyses some effects of major ideologies on world affairs;
- 8.1 – Analyses people, issues and events in the context;
- 8.2 – Explains why causes and consequences can vary in importance; and
- 8.3 – Explains why different individuals, groups and societies have interpreted and reinterpreted history in different ways.
NSW: History (Mandatory) Stage 5 (Years 9 – 10)
- 5. Post-war Australia to the 1970s
- Anti-communism and the Vietnam War: How did the Australian Government respond to the threat of communism in Australia?
Knowledge and understanding
A student develops knowledge and understanding about:
- The chronology of Australian history since 1901;
- Australia’s relationship with the rest of the world;
- significant developments in Australia’s political history; and
- significant developments in Australia’s social and cultural history.
- Sequences major historical events to show understanding of continuity, change and causation (M5.2);
- recounts some world events in which Australia has been involved (M5.3);
- explains the impact of international events on Australia’s history and evaluates Australia’s contribution to world affairs (M5.4);
- recounts some of the key events and developments in Australian political history (M5.5);
- explains political events and evaluates their impact on civic life in Australia (M5.6); and
- compares and contrasts the social and cultural experiences of different people at various times (M5.8).
A student develops skills in:
- Interpretation, analysis and empathy;
- research; and
- Explains the meaning, purpose and context of historical sources in order to deduce their usefulness for the purposes of an inquiry (M5.14);
- explains different perspectives and historical interpretations about individuals, groups, events and issues (M5.15);
- locates, selects and organises historical information from a number of different sources, utilising a variety of technological processes to address complex historical problems and issues, with some independence (M5.16);
- defines the purpose of historical investigation and plans the conducts appropriate research, with some independence (M5.17);
- selects and uses appropriate written, oral and graphic forms to communicate effectively about the past for different audiences, with clear purpose (M5.18); and
- creates well-structured text using evidence to describe, recount, explain, argue, challenge and discuss increasingly complex problems and issues (M5.19).
Values and attitudes
The values and attitudes promoted in this syllabus are:
- Commitment to informed and active citizenship;
- an appreciation of the study of history ; and
- empathetic understanding.
Students will develop:
- commitment to understanding the nature of various democratic institutions;
- commitment to individual freedom, ways of living, belief systems and languages;
- respect for different viewpoints, ways of living, belief systems and languages;
- appreciation of the importance of historical study in understanding the present;
- appreciation of cultural identity and the shared heritage of Australians;
- empathy with people of different cultures and societies; and
- respect for, and acceptance of, cultural diversity.
Victoria: Australian History Stage 4 – Outcome 2
Stage 4 – Australian History
Outcome 2: On completion of this unit, the student should be able to analyse an event, issue or campaign which created debate and division in Australian society during the period 1945 to the present day.
Criterion 1: Knowledge of an event, issue or campaign that has divided Australia in the period 1945 to the present day.
Criterion 2: Analysis of the changes brought about by the selected even, issue or campaign.
Criterion 3: Use of evidence to support an argument /analysis.
Criterion 4: Synthesis of evidence to draw conclusions.
Criterion 5: Examination of the ways in which the event, issue or campaign has been represented by various groups and individuals over time.