Australia's Federation

Discover the story behind Federation in Australia with this introductory video.

Teachers can use this video to introduce Federation to their students. It directly supports the Year 7 Unit of work.

Duration: 2 min 36 sec


Vision Audio
Opening credits showing animated shapes with the words, Understand, Teach, Book, Connect. The Parliamentary Education Office logo. Music
Graphic of a poster advertising The Commonwealth of Australia Inaugural Celebrations at Sydney. Narrator: On 1 January 1901 Australians celebrated not only a new year but the birth of our new nation.
A panoramic black and white photograph of the celebrations in Centennial Park in Sydney.
Black and white photograph of Edmund Barton.
Narrator: A 100 000 people gathered in Centennial Park to watch as Queen Victoria's representative, the Governor-General Lord Hopetoun, proclaimed the Commonwealth of Australia. They cheered as Edmund Barton was sworn in as Australia's first Prime Minister.
Text: Before 1901
Image of a sailing ship.
Map of Australia showing the 6 colonies.
Images of the colonial parliaments, men dressed in 19th century clothing, and bags of money. Images of a one penny stamp with graphics of steam trains on it.
Narrator: Before 1901 Australia was not a nation. Rather, it was 6 separate British colonies. They were like 6 different countries. Each one had its own parliament, laws, and small defence force. They each taxed goods brought in from the other colonies. They also issued their own stamps, and even built different railway systems, which made travel across the continent very difficult.
Black and white photograph of men dressed in nineteenth century clothing, graphic thought bubble with a map of Australia.
Black and white photograph of women dressed in nineteenth century clothing, graphic thought bubble with a map of Australia with the colonial borders disappearing.
Black and white photograph of men in uniform with musical instruments, graphics of symbols including a shield, a money bag, a customs officer and a globe.
Narrator: The people living in these colonies began to identify themselves as 'Australians', and started to think that the colonies would work better if they united as a nation. They felt a national government should look after things like defence, trade, immigration and foreign policy.
Black and white photograph showing the delegates at a constitutional convention. Narrator: During the 1890s, representatives from each colony met to create a set of rules for how this new nation would work. These rules are known as the Constitution.
The tally board for a referendum held in Western Australia. Narrator: In 1899 and 1900 the people in each colony agreed to the Constitution by voting in referendums. It was the first time in history that a group of people voted to create a new nation.
The British flag. Narrator: But the colonies were still under the law-making power of Britain. Before they could unite they needed the approval of the British Parliament.
Photograph of Westminster Palace in London, the home of the British Parliament.
The front page of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.
Narrator: In July 1900 the British Parliament passed a law—the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. The 6 colonies became the 6 states of Australia and federal Parliament was created. This is known as Federation.
Graphics of fireworks over a photograph of the Ocean Wave Hotel. Narrator: On 1 January 1901 Federation was celebrated across Australia with parades, street parties, picnics and fireworks.
Black and white photograph of members of the first federal Parliament.
Image of Tom Robert's painting of the opening of Parliament in Melbourne.
Narrator: The first federal Parliament met later that year in Victoria's Parliament House. Australians were ready to unite as 'one people', under 'one flag' with 'one destiny'.
The Parliamentary Education Office logo. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2019. Music.