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Dear Australia: memories of your time in isolation

Donna Coutts and AAP, May 25, 2020 7:00PM Kids News

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Abby, 9, has already written her Dear Australia letter and has also completed a drawing. Picture: Sarah Matray media_cameraAbby, 9, has already written her Dear Australia letter and has also completed a drawing. Picture: Sarah Matray

civics

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Australians are being invited to record their coronavirus experiences for future generations in a new program by the country’s postal service.

Australia Post has set up the Dear Australia campaign to mark this moment in the nation’s history and the impact on families, communities and our way of life.

It has created a national letterbox for people to write a letter to, describing how the COVID-19 pandemic affected them.

The project is in partnership with the National Archives*, which will keep some of the Dear Australia letters for the future.

Australia Post’s Nicole Sheffield said that while 2020 had tested us in ways we could never have imagined just months ago, it had also highlighted the importance of connections with other people.

“Writing a letter is a very human way to connect with people, which is why we’re inviting

individuals, schools, communities, and organisations to write a letter to the nation about their own unique experiences during the pandemic,” Ms Sheffield said.

“It can be a message of hope, a story of community spirit, a poem, song, artwork from your son or daughter, or part of a time capsule project for school. Whatever the reflection, this is a chance to share your story with the rest of Australia and preserve it for future generations.

“Today, the more opportunities we have to connect and feel what it means to be human, the

better,” said Ms Sheffield.

Selected letters will be shared on the Dear Australia website, allowing people to reflect and connect with stories throughout the campaign.

On conclusion, some letters will be archived* at The National Archives of Australia.

Dear Australia pics media_cameraTia, 10, with her Dear Australia letter. Picture: Lachie Millard

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
The National Archives of Australia is an agency* of the Australian government.

It is based in the national capital city, Canberra, ACT, and holds records from Federation in 1901 to the present, many of them about decisions and actions of the government.

Most records are documents, but the archives also hold posters, plans, films, sound recordings and photographs.

National Archives Director-General David Fricker said Dear Australia letters would be a unique and valuable resource for current and future generations, providing first-hand accounts of Australian life in the pandemic.

Dear Australia Pic media_cameraAuthor Morris Gleitzman has written a Dear Australia letter, shown at the bottom of this story. Picture: Lachie Millard

HOW TO TAKE PART
Send your letters or artwork to Dear Australia, Locked Bag, Australia 9999 with a stamp on the front of the envelope.

Dear Australia letters can be placed in any red Australia Post street post box before August 18.

For more information visit auspost.com.au/dearaustralia

Author Morris Gleitzman has written a Dear Australia letter. media_cameraAuthor Morris Gleitzman has written a Dear Australia letter.

GLOSSARY

  • archives: file or library of items such as documents or photos
  • archived: stored for the future
  • agency: branch of a bigger organisation, such as the government as a whole

EXTRA READING

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Why is 2020 a significant year and important to document?
  2. What does Nicole Sheffield believe this year has highlighted?
  3. Where is the National Archives?
  4. What is in the National Archives?
  5. What happened in 1901?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Reflection
Everyone has a story to tell. Your story may not be headline news but it is still an important part of Australia’s story. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everybody differently and hearing stories from many people will help to understand its impact on the country as a whole.

Reflect on your experiences over the last 12 weeks or so. From when the pandemic began to impact our lives and fear in the community was growing, to now as restrictions are beginning to ease and schools are reopening. Make notes on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your life. You can list positive and negative effects. Did it change your schooling? Or your involvement in community sport? Were family members jobs affected? How did you spend your time at home? Did you learn a new skill? Or improve an old one? Did you do ‘remote learning’ or were you attending school? What did/do you miss the most? What was great about staying at home? Did you see teddies appearing in your neighbourhood, or rainbows? Did you see or do any random acts of kindness?

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Humanities and Social Sciences – History

2. Extension
Use your notes to help you write/draw your story of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Your story can be a recount detailing your experiences over the pandemic, a poem or song highlighting the emotion and/or absurdity of lockdown life, or a piece of artwork depicting something significant to you from this time.

Decide on the way you want to present your ‘story’. Plan out how your ideas and write/draw them. If you are writing your ‘story’, revise your work carefully and ask a friend or teacher to help you edit. When you are happy with your end result, check with a parent or teacher about sending it into the ‘Dear Australia’ collection via Australia Post.

Time: allow 60+ minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative thinking, The Arts – Visual Arts

VCOP ACTIVITY
Verb adventures
With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What topics would you include in a Dear Australia letter?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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