Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia (Version 8.4)


The Asia region exerts enormous influence globally and in Australia. Asia is the most populous region in the world, being home to two-thirds of the world’s people. Some of the world’s most dynamic, varied and complex societies are in the Asia region. It will soon also be both the largest producer and consumer of goods and services in the world.

In 2014, 11 of Australia’s top 15 export markets (goods and services) were in the Asia region, making up nearly 71 per cent of all exports. As well, approximately 58 per cent of Australia’s two-way trade occurred with countries of the Asia region. The economic importance of successful Australian engagement with Asia is undeniable.

Australia is increasingly looking to Asia strategically, politically and culturally as well as economically. Correspondingly, Asia literacy is going to be a key requirement of our young people, as Australia seeks to strengthen its ties in the Asia region and be an effective contributor to the wellbeing of the region as a whole. For this, young people will need broad insight into the histories of the countries of the Asia region, including their shared history with Australia, its complex and diverse cultures and an understanding of the contemporary challenges and opportunities that exist for the region. By knowing something of Asian societies, cultures, beliefs and environments, they will deepen their intercultural understanding, enrich their own lives and increase the likelihood of successful participation in the ‘Asian century’, for themselves and Australia as a whole.

Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia

The Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia priority provides a regional context for learning in all areas of the curriculum. It reflects Australia’s extensive engagement with Asia in social, cultural, political and economic spheres.

Many Asian nations are growing rapidly and are regionally and globally influential. Immigrants from all these countries have historically contributed to Australia’s development and will continue to do so in the future. An understanding of Asia underpins the capacity of Australian students to be active and informed citizens working together to build harmonious local, regional and global communities, and build Australia’s social, intellectual and creative capital. It also builds understanding of the diversity of cultures and peoples living in Australia, fosters social inclusion and cohesion and is vital to the prosperity of Australia.

This priority will ensure that students learn about and recognise the diversity within and between the countries of the Asia region. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of Asian societies, cultures, beliefs and environments, and the connections between the peoples of Asia, Australia and the rest of the world. Asia literacy provides students with the skills to communicate and engage with the peoples of Asia so they can effectively live, work and learn in the region.

What encompasses Asia?

Asia can be defined in geographical terms, but it can also be described in terms of cultural, religious, historical and language boundaries or commonalities.

While it includes West and Central Asia, in Australian schools, studies of Asia will pay particular attention to the sub-regions of:

  • North-East Asia including China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan
  • South-East Asia including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam
  • South Asia including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Key ideas

Key concepts

The Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia priority has been developed around the three key concepts: Asia and its diversity, achievements and contributions of the peoples of Asia, and Asia–Australia engagement.

The first key concept highlights the diversity within and between the countries of the Asia region, from their cultures, societies and traditions through to their diverse environments and the effects of these on the lives of people.

The second concept examines the past and continuing achievements of the peoples of Asia, identifies their contribution to world history and acknowledges the influences that the Asia region has on the world’s aesthetic and creative pursuits.

The third concept addresses the nature of past and ongoing links between Australia and Asia, and develops the knowledge, understanding and skills that make it possible to engage actively and effectively with peoples of the Asia region.

Organising ideas

Code Organising ideas
Asia and its diversity
OI.1 The peoples and countries of Asia are diverse in ethnic background, traditions, cultures, belief systems and religions.
OI.2 Interrelationships between humans and the diverse environments in Asia shape the region and have global implications.
Achievements and contributions of the peoples of Asia
OI.3 The peoples and countries of Asia have contributed and continue to contribute to world history and human endeavour.
OI.4 The arts and literature of Asia influence aesthetic and creative pursuits within Australia, the region and globally.
Asia–Australia engagement
OI.5 Collaboration and engagement with the peoples of Asia support effective regional and global citizenship.
OI.6 Australia is part of the Asia region and our histories from ancient times to the present are linked.
OI.7 Australians play a significant role in social, cultural, political and economic developments in the Asia region.
OI.8 Australians of Asian heritage have influenced Australia’s history and continue to influence its dynamic culture and society.

Learning Areas

Learning area statements

All Australian Curriculum learning areas have the potential to contribute to the Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority. Taken collectively, Australian Curriculum learning areas develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the people and cultures of the Asia region. This learning can enrich their lives and equip them with the skills to engage effectively with peoples of the Asia region.

Each learning area contributes differently to the Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority and its key concepts. Each learning area articulates appropriate and relevant aspects of the priority and how it can be incorporated in the curriculum. Australian Curriculum content descriptions and elaborations relating specifically to the priority are tagged with the priority symbol. In other content descriptions and elaborations, the cross-curriculum priority can be inferred from the use of terms such as ‘culture’, ‘community’, ‘place’ and ‘points of view’.


In the Australian Curriculum: English, students can explore and appreciate the diverse range of traditional and contemporary texts from and about the peoples and countries of Asia, including texts written by Australians of Asian heritage. It enables students to understand how Australian culture and the English language have been influenced by the many Asian languages used in Australian homes, classrooms and communities. Students draw on knowledge of the Asia region, including literature, to influence and enhance their own creative pursuits. They develop communication skills that reflect cultural awareness and intercultural understanding.


In the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics, students can learn about the understandings and applications of mathematics in Asia and the way mathematicians from Asia continue to contribute to the ongoing development of mathematics. Students have opportunities to develop mathematical understanding in fields such as number, patterns, measurement, symmetry and statistics by drawing on knowledge of and examples from the Asia region. These could include calculation, money, art, architecture, design and travel. Investigations involving data collection, representation and analysis can be used to examine issues pertinent to the Asia region.


The Australian Curriculum: Science gives students opportunities to recognise that people from the Asia region have made and continue to make significant contributions to the development of science understandings and their applications. It enables students to recognise that the Asia region includes diverse environments and to appreciate that interaction between human activity and these environments continues to influence the region, including Australia, and has significance for the rest of the world. Students appreciate that the Asia region plays an important role in scientific research and development. These can include research and development in areas such as medicine, natural resource management, nanotechnologies, communication technologies and natural disaster prediction and management.

Humanities and the Social Sciences

In the Humanities and Social Sciences, students can investigate the diversity of cultures, values, beliefs, histories and environments that exists between and within the countries of the Asia region, and how this diversity influences the way people interact with each other, the places where they live and the social, economic, political and cultural systems of the region as a whole. Students can investigate the reasons behind both internal migration in the Asia region and from Asia to Australia, and so develop understanding of the experiences of the people of Asian heritage who are now Australian citizens. Students can learn about the shared history and the environmental, social and economic interdependence of Australia and the Asia region. In a changing globalised world, the nature of interdependence between Asian regions and Australia continues to change. By exploring the way transnational and intercultural collaboration supports the notion of shared and sustainable futures, students can reflect on how Australians can participate in the Asia region as active and informed citizens.

The Arts

In the Australian Curriculum: The Arts, students can examine art forms that have arisen from the rich and diverse belief systems and traditions of the Asia region. Students can consider the aesthetic qualities of these art forms as well as their local, regional and global influence. This learning area provides opportunities to investigate the role of the arts in developing, maintaining and transforming cultural beliefs and practices and communicating an understanding of the rich cultural diversity of the Asia region. Students can engage with a variety of art forms, media, instruments and technologies of the Asia region. They can reflect on the intrinsic value of these artworks and artists’ practices as well as their place and value within broader social, cultural, historical and political contexts.


In the Australian Curriculum: Technologies, students are able to explore traditional, contemporary and emerging technological achievements in the countries of the Asia region. They investigate the contributions that Australia has made and is making to create products and services that meet a range of needs in the Asia region and can examine the contributions that peoples of the Asia region have made and continue to make to global technological advances. Students explore Australia’s rich and ongoing engagement with the peoples and countries of Asia to create appropriate and sustainable products and services that meet personal, community, national, regional and global needs and reflect intercultural, creative and critical thinking.

Health and Physical Education

The Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education provides opportunities for students to explore the synergy between Asia and Australia in the areas of health and physical activity. It enables students to appreciate and engage with the diverse cultures, traditions and belief systems of the Asia region through the development of communication and interpersonal skills that reflect cultural understanding, empathy and respect. Students examine the meaning of health and the mind-body-spirit connection across the cultures of the Asia region through wellness practices. These include physical activity and traditions of medicine and health care. In Health and Physical Education, students recognise the influence within Australian culture of traditional and contemporary movement activities from the Asia region and explore health and movement in the context of Asia.


The Australian Curriculum: Languages enables students to learn languages of the Asian region. Students learn to communicate and interact in interculturally appropriate ways – exploring concepts, experiences and perspectives from within and across Asian cultures.

In the languages learning area, students develop an appreciation for the place of Australia within the Asian region, including the interconnections of languages and cultures, peoples and communities, and histories and economies. Students learn how Australia is situated within the Asian region, how our national linguistic and cultural identity is continuously evolving locally, regionally and within an international context.

Work Studies

The Work Studies Years 9–10 curriculum enables students to explore and appreciate the diversity of ethnic backgrounds, cultures and traditions within the countries of the Asia region, including Australia. In this curriculum, students develop communication and interpersonal skills that reflect intercultural understanding, building awareness of and respect for the diverse range of beliefs and customs that are important to the peoples of Asia. Students are given opportunities to explore the concept of the 21st century as the Asian century and examine the implications for workplaces in Australia and the importance of Asia-relevant skills to 21st century workforces. They investigate the way work culture and patterns are informed by and impact on the cultures and beliefs of the peoples of Asia.