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Cartoons: perspectives

Learning Area: English – Humanities and social sciences – The Arts
Age Group: Secondary Lower (13-14) – Secondary Middle (15-16)


Students gain an understanding of the types of issues presented in cartoon form and for whom they are produced. Students explore political cartoons from a range of perspectives including audience, the perspectives presented and the characteristics of cartoons including images, written text and dialogue.


Discussing their perceptions and commonly held opinions in a safe, productive environment encourages students to speak out against intolerance and prejudice. Using the classroom as a forum for students to address these issues and to question issues that arise in the media and in their community allows them to discuss the challenges of acceptance and diversity. Students examine the use of irony and a range of other features often used in political cartoons.

Worksheets to download

Suggested activities

1. Australian political cartooning – a rich tradition

Australia has a strong and vibrant history of political cartooning. Since the 1830s, when political cartoons were first featured in Australian newspapers, they have provided satirical, witty or humorous comment on political and public affairs, social customs, fashions, sports events and personalities. Visit the Behind the Lines website to read and discuss the information presented.

2. Classroom discussion

  • Brainstorm a range of issues currently in the media spotlight.
  • Consider some of the elements of political cartoons such as satire, irony caricature, target, images and words?
  • Audience: How does the magazine or newspaper in which a political cartoon is published define the audience likely to view the cartoon. How might this affect the subject matter and the other elements that make the cartoon?
  • Why might some cartoons be rejected by the editor of a newspaper? Are there some issues that are deemed too sensitive to cartoon? Do you think the cartoon provided is one of those? Why?
  • Encourage students to view a range of cartoons from the websites provided and in print media. If possible, students can bring cartoons into the classroom for discussion.

3. ‘Aboriginal lifesaver students barred from Alice Hostel’

  1. Distribute the cartoon ‘Aboriginal lifesaver students barred from Alice Hostel’ to each person in the class. (If necessary refer to Background article [DOC] worksheet.)
  2. Distribute the worksheet to students.
  3. Allow students time to complete the worksheets and to attempt their own cartoon. Students may visit Alan Moir Cartoon Gallery for Free cartoon lessons.

Additional strategies

  • Students present their own cartoon to the class or a small group along with a brief outline of the issue and the techniques they have included in their work.
  • Ask the class to select one of the more contentious issues communicated through the cartoons and to prepare a debate on the subject. Students will require time to research and prepare.
  • Australian school students from Years 4 through 12 are invited to enter the National Museum of Australia’s political cartooning competition, ‘Drawing the Lines’. The contest coincides with the Museum’s annual exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: The Year’s Best Cartoons’. As they arrive entries will be showcased through the Museum’s Flickr stream and blog. More information is available on the Museum’s site.

Related resources

Cartoon - Perspectives. Politian speaking... If ever we needed a stimulus, it's now

Other newspapers with political cartoons

Relevant websites


All night sitting for Rudd stimulus package – Cartoons by Nicholson from “The Australian” newspaper

Date: 18 March 2009