Stage 3 (Years 5 & 6): Topic 1: Factors that shape places

Unit 2: Investigating Environmental Change in Australia and Borneo

>> Unit 2 lessons

Content focus:

Students investigate how the environment influences the characteristics of places in Australia and other places around the world. In doing so, students examine ways people influence the characteristics of places and the management of spaces. They study the pattern of natural vegetation in Australia and this pattern is influenced by climate. They also have an opportunity to develop their skills in graphing and interpreting climate data.

Students compare the climate and vegetation of Australia with the island of Borneo and examine how people are impacting on the habitat of the orangutan. They then apply their knowledge of human impacts on habitats within the local environment and reflect on people’s needs and the significance and protection of environments.

Geographical concepts:

  • Place: the significance of places and what they are like. For example: places students live in and belong to and why they are important.
  • Space: the significance of location and spatial distribution, and ways people organise and manage the spaces that we live in. For example: location of a place in relation to other familiar places.
  • Environment: the significance of the environment in human life, and the important interrelationships between humans and the environment. For example, how and why places should be looked after.
  • Interconnection: no object of geographical study can be viewed in isolation. For example: local and global links people have with places and the special connection Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples maintain with Country/Place.
  • Scale: the way that geographical phenomena and problems can be examined at different spatial levels. For example: various scales by which places can be defined such as local suburbs, towns and large cities.
  • Sustainability: the capacity of the environment to continue to support our lives and the lives of other living creatures into the future. For example: ways in which people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, use and protect natural resources; differing views about environmental sustainability; sustainable management of waste.
  • Change: explaining geographical phenomena by investigating how they have developed over time. For example: changes to environmental and human characteristics of places.

Syllabus content area:
Factors that change environments
Students investigate the ways people change the natural environment in Australia and another country
Environments shape places
Students investigate how the natural environment influences people and places
Humans shape places 
Students investigate how people influence places

Key inquiry questions:

  • What area the different types of vegetation found in Australia? Where area they found?
  • What is the relationship between climate and vegetation?
  • What is the climate and vegetation like in Borneo?
  • What are the threats to the orangutans of Borneo and how might they be addressed?
  • How do environments provide for the needs of people, animals and plants?
  • How can we protect environments for the future?

A student:

  • describes the diverse features and characteristics of places and environments
  • explains interactions and connections between people, places and environments
  • compares and contrasts influences on the management of places and environments
  • acquires, processes and communicates geographical information using geographical tools for inquiry.

Inquiry skills:
Acquiring geographical information

  • develop geographical questions to investigate and plan an inquiry
  • collect and record relevant geographical data and information, from secondary information sources

Processing geographical information

  • represent data in different forms, for example, graphs and tables

Communicating geographically

  • present findings and ideas in a range of communication forms as appropriate
  • reflect on their learning to propose individual and collective action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge and describe the expected effects of their proposal on different groups of people

Geographical tools:

  • Small-scale maps, political maps
  • maps to identify location, latitude, direction, distance, spatial distributions and patterns


  • observing, measuring, collecting and recording data

Graphs and statistics

  • column graphs, line graphs, climate graphs
  • statistics to find patterns

Visual representations

  • photographs and illustrations


>> Download Investigating Environmental Change in Australia and Borneo cover sheet

Lessons and worksheets:

Lesson 1: Natural vegetation in Australia :: Resource Sheet 1 :: Resource Sheet 2 :: Worksheet 1
Lesson 2: Climate and vegetation in Australia :: Resource Sheet 1 :: Resource Sheet 2 :: Resource Sheet 3 :: Worksheet 1 :: Worksheet 2
Lesson 3: Comparing Australia and Borneo :: Resource Sheet 1 :: Resource Sheet 2 :: Resource Sheet 3 :: Resource Sheet 4 :: Worksheet 1
Lesson 4: Significance of environments: A local case study :: Resource Sheet 1 :: Resource Sheet 2 :: PowerPoint 1 :: PowerPoint 2
Lesson 5: Significance of environments: People’s needs and protection of environments :: Resource Sheet 1 :: Teacher Resource 1
Lesson 6: The significance and protection of environments :: PowerPoint 1