A STEM Ambassador to represent geography education

Susan CaldisOn 5 March 2020, Science & Technology Australia (STA) announced 16 STEM Ambassadors who will work, together with their local MP, to help bridge the gap between science and government in Australia. The GTA & ACT NSW and the AGTA Board would like to congratulate GTA NSW & ACT President and AGTA Director, Susan Caldis, on her appointment as one of the STEM Ambassadors. As a contributing author to the Geography in Australia Schools chapter in the Academy of Sciences' Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future, we know Susan works hard to take informed action around the recommendations connected to geography education; and we wish her every success in her advocacy for geography education to become more visible in STEM education and for geography to become formally recognised in policy and practice as a STEM subject. Congratulations Susan!


Geography: Shaping Australia’s futureGeography:  Shaping Australia’s Future

Geography: Shaping Australia’s future
 was prepared by the National Committee for Geographical Sciences and presents the state of play of geography as a discipline in Australia. It provides a unified vision for Australian geography over the next decade.

The plan offers a framework for engaging research, teaching and industry that aligns strategically with contemporary social, economic and environmental challenges of our region.

>> Download decal plan summary

>> Download the decal plan



2019 Australian Geography Competition: Entries Open

2019 Australian  Geography CompetitionEntries close 1 March 2019
Competition dates 27 March – 10 April

The Australian Geography Competition is a contest for Australian secondary school students, assessing their geographical knowledge and skills. The Competition aims to encourage student interest in geography and to reward student excellence.

  • for students from Year 7 to Year 12
  • only $4 per student, with no minimum number of students or other registration fee
  • in schools from Wednesday 27 March to Wednesday 10 April 2019
  • achievement certificates for all participating students, special certificates for top 1%, major prizes for highest performing students and schools

>> To find out more and enter your students, visit the competition website and follow on Facebook.


News, resources and support from member associations


Primary Geography Alive

The GTA NSW's Primary Geography Alive website has been developed to support the implementation of the NSW Geography Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum in Primary years of schooling.

The Geography Teachers' Association of NSW Inc. (GTA NSW) commissioned a team of experienced Primary school teachers to deveop these exemplar units of work aligned to the K-6 requireemnts of the syllabus. Each unit consists of six to eight lessons complete with the resources required for their successful implementation in the classroom.

>> Primary Geography Alive website



GTAQ+DNRME Spatial Technology Workshops

When: 9:00AM–1:00PM 20 October 2018
Location: Cairns State High School

When: 9:00AM–3:00PM 10 December 2018
Location: Gladstone State High School

>> Registration



GTAV eCourses

GTAV eCourses provide online professional learning for trained and out-of-field Geography teachers. The length of courses vary from a few hours up to a number of weeks. Some courses include self-assessment items; others include formal assessment items.

Each GTAV eCourse is linked to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Participants receive a certificate acknowledging professional development hours linked to the accreditation standards upon successful completion of each course.

>> Further details


Sampson Flat Bushfire Kit

The Sampson Flat Bushfire Kit has been developed for SACE Stage 1 Natural Hazards unit. The kit focuses on mapping skill development, along with other geographical and inquiry skills through the exploration of a case study of the 2015 Sampson Flat bushfires.

The kit includes:

  • 20 copies of a coloured broadsheet
  • Prewritten activities

>> Further details



TGTA celebrates its 50th anniversary

The TGTA was formed in 1968 in Hobart to further the promotion of geography teaching in Tasmanian schools and colleges. In 1993 the TGTA joined with the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria before being reformed in Tasmania in 2002. The 50th anniversary of the formation of the Tasmanian Geography Teachers Association is in 2018.



The Digital Future of Geography

This professional learning opportunity will guide you through simple data collection methods using free Geographic Information System (GIS) technology available to all schools through Esri Australia’s GIS for Schools Program.

We will guide you through everything you need to know to integrate GIS into your next fieldwork. This includes an exploration of the new user-friendly ArcGIS Online platform that can create maps using your own primary data or readily available secondary data.

>> Further details



Latest issue of AGTA's Geographia

GeographiaThe November 2018 issue of AGTA's newsletter Geographia is now available. Contents include

  • AGTA Conference 2019
  • 2018 Geography Big Week Out
  • TGTA Milestone
  • New York City Teacher Orientation Study Tour
  • GeogSpace
  • Geography Literacy Unlocked Textbook
  • Around the affiliates

Australian Geography Competition: Australian Team win two bronze medals at the 2018 International Geography Olympiad in Quebec City

Congratulations to the four young Australian geography students who represented Australia at the XV International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) held in Quebec City, Canada, from July 31 to August 6. The Olympiad was organised under the auspices of the International Geographical Union (IGU) with the support of Université Laval, North America’s second oldest university.

Australian Geography Competition team membersThe four-member Australian team were selected through their outstanding performance in last year’s Australian Geography Competition (AGC) and Geography’s Big Week Out (from left to right): Phoebe Blaxill from St Mary's Anglican Girls' School, WA – bronze medal; Harry Hall from Trinity College (Gawler), SA; Hannah Wright from Walford Anglican School for Girls, SA – bronze medal, and Sophie Ohlin from Sydney Girls High School, NSW. The Australian team was accompanied by two team leaders: Kath Berg, Australian Geography Competition Committee and Liam Sloan, Geography Teachers Association of South Australia. Forty-three countries took part in this highly prestigious one-week international competition with the Romanian team declared the overall winners at this year’s event.

To test the best young geographers in the world, the iGeo programme involves three academic challenges over the course of a week: a written response test, a multimedia test and a fieldwork exercise requiring observation, cartographic representation and geographical analysis. The programme also included poster presentations by teams, a cultural session showcasing Canadian cultures, and visits to Old Quebec (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Forêt Montmorency.

The value of the iGeo experience cannot be underestimated; participating students appreciate not only the opportunity to travel abroad and challenge themselves, but also the experience of meeting and making friends with passionate geography students from all over the world. "The iGeo was a fantastic opportunity not only to learn about geography, hearing from bright minds in the field and undergoing insightful fieldwork, but also to make friends from all around the globe. Being around such a wide variety of international cultures, personalities and languages is a rare event, and because of it the experience was invaluable." said Harry Hall, participating student.

Kath Berg, Australian Team Leader commented that “The iGeo is a prestigious international contest. It inspires active interest in geographical studies among students and contributes to greater intercultural understanding through the friendships developed between students from different countries.” The Australian team has once again scored commendable results. This highlights the strength of Australia's Year 11 and 12 geography curricula in teaching students to think, analyse and interpret information. The role of geography in schools is continuously supported by the Australian Geography Competition. The pre-selection for the four-student team that will represent Australia at the 2019 iGeo in Hong Kong, China, is under way. Sixteen high-achieving Year 11 students from the 2018 Australian Geography Competition will soon be selected to take part in Geography’s Big Week Out, a six-day training/selection event, to be held on Kangaroo Island, South Australia in early October this year.

The participation of the Australian team at the International Geography Olympiad is made possible with the support of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, Australian Geography Competition and with sponsorship of the AGC from Monash University (School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment and School of Social Sciences), Macquarie University (Department of Geography and Planning and Department of Environmental Sciences), and The University of Queensland (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences).

The annual Australian Geography Competition is a joint initiative of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland ( and the Australian Geography Teachers’ Association.

For further information about the Australian Geography Competition and its associated events, iGeo and GBWO, visit


Australian Geography Competition: Entries open

>> Entries in the 2018 Australian Geography Competition, 17-31 May, are now open

 About the competition

  • for students from Year 7 or younger to Year 12
  • only $4 per student, with no minimum number of students or other registration fee
  • flexible timing from Thursday 17 to Thursday 31 May 2018 to suit school requirements
  • achievement certificates for all participating students, special certificates for top 1%, major prizes for highest performing students and schools
  • competition entries close on Wednesday 21 March 2018.


  • aligned with the Australian Curriculum: Geography
  • puts Geography in the spotlight in your school
  • based on innovative use of maps and graphics
  • includes questions that aim to develop students’ critical thinking
  • is easy to administer
  • questions address current local and global issues
  • provides question booklets that become valuable class-set resources.

“The Australian Geography Competition provides a wonderful opportunity for students to challenge themselves, reinforce skills they learn in the classroom and receive acknowledgement for their participation and achievement. I think that the nation-wide participation makes it very exciting for students.”  Melina Walton, Redlands College.

International team
Australian team members to the 2019 International Geography Olympiad in Hong Kong, China, will be chosen from Year 11 students, who excel in the Competition via the 2018 Geography’s Big Week Out held on Kangaroo Island, SA.

>> To find out more and enter your students in the 2018 round, visit the competition website.


Latest issues of Geographical Education

Geographical Education: Enacting the Curriculum

Geographical EducationThe contents of Geographical Education Volume 30, 2017 include

  • Enacting the Curriculum by Nick Hutchinson
  • Chair of Directors Annual Report 2017 from Trish Douglas
  • Rediscovering the Teaching of Geography with the Focus on Quality by David Lambert and Michael Solem
  • Australia’s City Foodbowls: Fertile Ground for Investigating ‘Biomes and Food Security’ by Rachel Carey and Jen Sheridan
  • Teaching for Sustainability: The Role of (benefit) Corporations by Jason van Tol
  • Book Reviews

>> Download individual articles

Geographical Education Supplement: AGTA’s First Fifty Years

Geographical Education SupplementThe contents of Geographical Education Supplement, 2017 include

  • AGTA’s First Fifty Years
  • Introduction
  • Beginnings: Battling bureaucrats, interstate cooperation and a Sydney Harbour cruise
  • AGTA Conferences
  • Focus on Donald Biddle, Frances Slater, Magdelaine Wong and Rob Berry
  • Geographical Education Over the Course of Fifty Years
  • 1970: Concepts: the whole cornerstone of teaching the subject
  • 1980: Looking Back on imaginative school-based curricula
  • Geography Education – AGTA style
  • 1990: Critical geographies and teaching for sustainable development
  • 2000: Struggling against SoSE and learning to think geographically
  • AGTA Recollections
  • 2010: Australian Curriculum, standards, futures and philosophies

>> Download individual articles



Latest issue of AGTA's Geographia

GeographiaThe October 2017 issue of AGTA's newsletter Geographia is now available. Contents include

  • AGTA Membership
  • AGTA Conference 2017
  • AGTA Conference 2019
  • Geography Skills Unlocked Textbook
  • The GeoSix and the Bushfire Story
  • New resources for teachers: Hunger in a world of plenty
  • Affiliate Contribution
  • Around the affiliates

AGTA 2017 Conference

A highly successful conference was held during January 2017 at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne. The conference attracted two hundred attendees from all Australian States and Territories as well as the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Singapore and New Zealand. A pre-conference tour of western Victoria was one of the highlights as were the full and half-day fieldwork trips. Keynote speakers included Dr Rachel Carey, Professor William Cartwright, Professor David Lambert, Professor Bruce Rasmussen, Dr Michael Solem. Keynote, workshop and field trip presentations are available for download from this website.

New AGTA publication

Geography Literacy UnlockedGeography Literacy Unlocked has been written for secondary geography students seeking to improve their literacy skills. It includes a focus on written, visual and oral literacy.

Geography Literacy Unlocked is published by the Australian Geography Teachers Association and written by Dr Grant Kleeman. One of Australia’s leading geography educators.

Key features:

  • An engaging, easy-to-navigate design
  • A student-friendly approach featuring step-by-step explanations and annotated exemplars
  • A focus on the basics of effective written communication – spelling, punctuation, tense and the use of connectives
  • Descriptions of the principal text types used in geography, supported by annotated examples
  • Guidance for writers in quoting, paraphrasing, summarising and referencing the work of others
  • A focus on the responsible use of social media
  • A comprehensive coverage of the principal forms of visual and oral texts students encounter in geography
  • Templates or scaffolds to support the interpretative skills students are expected to demonstrate.

>> Download brochure and order form

Geographer awarded Order of Australia (AM) in Queen's Birthday Day Honours

Associate Professor Alaric MaudeAssociate Professor Alaric Maude has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2017 Queen's Birthday honours. The AGTA Board congratulates Alaric on receiving this award which recognises his significant service to education in the field of Geography as an academic, researcher, author, and mentor. Alaric made a notable contribution to the development of the Australian Curriculum: Geography as a Lead Writer and Writing Coach. He has authored an impressive list of peer reviewed papers and numerous books as well as having provided presentations at national and State Geography conferences.

Evidence for learning and feedback resources

Effective feedback practice is shown to increase student progress by as much as an extra eight months over a year. AITSL in partnership with Evidence for Learning have developed new materials to support teachers and school leaders to enhance feedback practices with students in their context.

The resources draw upon global evidence and research-based approaches, including from AITSL’s own Board Chair and world-renowned education researcher, Professor John Hattie. The suite of materials is free to access from the AITSL website and includes the following:

  • A spotlight research summaryReframing feedback to improve teaching and learning – to describe the underpinning research on effective feedback.
  • Written and video case studies that profile effective implementation of feedback within Australian schools.
  • Implementation resources, such as a readiness check, planning overview and an introductory presentation, to help schools introduce an effective feedback strategy.


The AGTA Board met in Sydney in October 2016 for the biannual meeting and AGM.

There were some significant changes to the Executive. In a changing of the guard, Grant Kleeman completed his term as President and was replaced by Trish Douglas. As such, Malcolm McInerney also completed his term as Immediate Past Chair. AGTA would like to formally express their thanks to both Grant and Malcolm for their outstanding leadership and support of the organisation and for the teaching of Geography in Australia.

The AGTA Board Executive 2016-17:
Chair:Trish Douglas (VIC)
Deputy chair: Darryl Mitchie (WA)
Secretary: Susan Caldis (NSW)
Treasurer & Immediate Past Chair: Dr. Grant Kleeman (NSW)


National Committee for Geography

National Committee for Geography has made more progress on the Decadal plan for geography. It has been decided to develop a program called Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences. This will assist in explaining the role of geography to policy makers and decisions maker. This will include the development of an educative document organised around the Federal Government list of the five main focuses for strategic research to be delivered by March 2016. Working parties will be formed to investigate and report on these five strands:

  • Living in a changing environment
  • Promoting population health and well being
  • Managing our food and water assets
  • Securing Australia’s place in a changing world
  • Lifting productivity and economic growth

All of these have explicit links to geographical research and the importance of geographical knowledge in the classroom. There will be a sixth working party focussing on school geography and developing support for the foundational nature of Geography and the fundamental need for compulsory Geography F-10 in schools. More information is available on the Geographical Sciences — Australian Academy of Science website. AGTA has supported this initiative by contribution to the seeding funding to begin the project. Look out for opportunities to get involved.

AGTA Awards

Have you developed an exciting new teaching resource? As the conference program begins to take shape don’t forget about the AGTA awards. The entry details will be added to the website soon. Bookmark this link for further information.

AC—Professional Learning

AGTA has been active in the provision of PL opportunities for a range of teachers across the whole country. Contact your local GTA for information about upcoming events. Also look out for exciting new opportunities in 2016. AGTA continues to fund experts to attend workshops and forums in different locations where a need has been identified. If you would like more information about this please contact AGTA via this link to see if we can help.

AGTA Membership

Membership of AGTA: as of the last board meeting in October with a new constitution; AGTA now has 15 directors. These consist of two directors from each member affiliate, one being the President of the Affiliate Association and the other being nominated by the affiliate. Individuals can only make representation to AGTA and connect with your local associations. New South Wales Northern Territory Queensland South Australia Tasmania Victoria Western Australia through their association to bring issues to the national attention. AGTA exists as a national body representing the interests of Geography Teachers across Australia. If you have an issue that you believe would merit national attention you can raise it through your local state Geography Association. You can inquire about membership. In addition AGTA have a range of resources available to support the teaching of Geography and they can be investigated here. AGTA continues to support the work of the AAAE as a peak body representing Education Associations. They are an active group and have produced several positions papers on a range of contemporary issues in education which are useful professional reading. AGTA has developed an Action Plan:

  • Posters - development of a new set of classroom posters. These will be available for purchase from Affiliates and directly from AGTA
  • AGTA Roadshow — further implementation of the travelling roadshow to support the implementation of geography in the classroom. The aim is to offer the roadshow in each state as many times as required
  • Textbook - AGTA is seeking to produce a text book to support the implementation of the AC:Geography. This will help support the development of the key skills and inquiry methodology.
  • Brochure - the development of a reproducible resource for use in schools advocating for the range of careers that the study of Geography can support. Useful in subject counselling and careers events. √ Work with RGSQ regarding the Geography competition in order to further develop the project and to initiate a primary school version.
  • Response to HASS — AGTA has already developed a response to the AC: Geography review and is continuing to respond to the push for a single HASS curriculum. The AGTA Board will monitor and respond to further developments.

Tim Costello to continue as AGTA Patron

AGTA is delighted to announce that Tim Costello AO has agreed to continue in the role of patron. Tim has a long standing interest in the promotion of geography as a key part of the curriculum in developing active citizens who are willing to strive against inequality in any level. You can read more about Tim here along with some of the articles he has contributed in support of geography.

Don Biddle Award — Wayne Sutton

The Don Biddle Friend of Geography Award is named in honour of the founding president of AGTA, Dr Don Biddle. The Award is made by the AGTA Board based on the recommendation of a selection committee comprising three members of the Board. Current serving members of the AGTA Board are not eligible to receive the award. It was awarded posthumously to Wayne Sutton in recognition of the enormous contribution he made to AGTA and to the consolidation of geography within Tasmania.

Review of the Australian Curriculum

The newly elected federal government announced a comprehensive review of the curriculum to be held that would hear all submissions and report back by the middle of the year. AGTA developed a response document on behalf of all affiliates and Grant Kleeman was asked to appear before the review body to present this document and answer any questions.

The review panel had very specific areas of focus – the curriculum development process and potential bias and the applicability of the cross curriculum priorities. The review panel did not appear to have closely read any of the submissions.

AGTA was given a series of questions to respond to focussed on the process of the curriculum development. AGTA highlighted the role that state jurisdictions ended up having especially with regard to specific agendas. Also raised the issue of multiple hats – writer, reviewer, adviser, and jurisdiction representative could be the same person and this did impact on how the curriculum was developed. AGTA supported the notion that the relationship between AGTA and ACARA was supportive and was only superseded in the final moths where the pressure of the timeline took over.

The most likely outcome appears to be that recommendations are made to strip back the AC to a very basic and general series of core content statements – with contextual information, priorities or competencies left to the jurisdictions. On behalf of AGTA Grant Kleeman lobbied for more geography teachers to be trained. More information will be available here.


AAAE Founding Membership

AGTA is proud to be a founding member of the newly formed AAAE.

AAAE is a body specifically formed to represent the interests of teacher professional associations at a national level. There are 23 founding member associations, and the AAAE will be able to lobby at a federal level on issues affecting teachers and their professional practice. More information will be available later in the year but in the meantime checkout the website for further details.


Decadal plan for Geography

This is a new initiative by the Academy of Sciences to work on a long term plan for the development of Geography as an academic discipline with strong and real connections to developing the key skills needed in the 21st Century.

AGTA is keen to be partner in this as a major player in the teaching and development of geography in schools. There will be some funding available for affiliates to get involved in the process and to ensure that school based geography remains a major focus for the work. An example of a decadal plan for space science can be viewed here.


National Geography Competition

The RGSQ continues to offer the National Geography Competition for schools and students and in 2014 over 70 000 students took part.
It is a great opportunity to inspire your students and to identify high achievers at your school. Winners of the competition can also be invited to join the Geography at your school. Winners of the competition can also be invited to join the Geography Olympiad team. The Olympiad team represents Australia in 2014 at the international competition to be held in Krakow, Poland.

Further details about the National Geography Competition are available here.


The GeogSpace website developed by AGTA and Education Services Australia (ESA) is now live. AGTA thanks all members of the writing and development teams for their outstanding contributions to this resource which will support the teaching of the Australian Curriculum: Geography. AGTA will be running special professional learning programs to support teachers in their use of this wonderful new resource. Further information about these programs can be obtained from AGTA Chair Malcolm McInerney.

>> Download GeogSpace flyer


Australian Geography Competition

The Australian Geography Competition is an initiative of AGTA and the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (RGSQ) and is proudly sponsored by National Geographic Channel.

High-scoring students are announced in early May and the results distributed to schools at the end of May. Australia’s team to the next National Geographic World Championship is chosen from this Final. Our team to the International Geography Olympiad is selected from high-scoring students in the Competition’s senior division.

View past questions in the Australian Geography Competition or order posters from RGSQ.


The GeogSpace project team has been hard at work throughout the second half of 2012 writing resource units for this project which is being undertaken with Education Services Australia (ESA).


AITSL llustrations of practice

AGTA has completed three Illustrations of practice to be published by Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). At present one of these titled Sustainable cities has been added to the AITSL website. It is expected that the two dynamic illustrations will follow shortly.


Australian Curriculum: Geography

The draft geography F-12 Australian Curriculum: Geography went live on-line for consultation in October 2011 and is available for feedback until 28 February 2012. If you want to have a look at the draft scope and sequence for geography just go to and log-in. The draft includes the Rationale, Aims, Concept definitions, General Capabilities and Cross Curriculum priorities for geography, F-12 content descriptions, elaborations, skills and inquiry sequences and achievement standards.

Well done to all involved - quite an achievement to finally have a draft curriculum public and ready for feedback.  ACARA looks forward to being overwhelmed in commentary from geography teachers around Australia. Don’t hesitate to make your points heard.


True Blue Geography

True Blue Geography’, is an Op-Ed article from Bill Pritchard and Nick Hutchinson


Geography teaching positions

Looking for a Geography teaching position? Register your profile at this website and schools looking for a teacher with your qualifications and/or experience may contact you. Alternatively, you can search the online databases for positions currently available.



Sprol is a blog dedicated to pulling sweet images off of GoogleEarth, and using the images to motivate interesting (and often very public-health-relevant) stories about the environment. In their own words, “sprol shows the visual macroscopic effects of the decisions and behavior of our society


Spatial education resources

A collection of free GIS classroom activity templates for use with ArcGIS or other GIS software can be accessed here.

Professional standards for accomplished teaching school geography

AGTA was a partner, along with Melbourne University, the GTA V and VIT, in a project to develop professional standards for teaching school geography. The national Professional Standards for Accomplished Teaching of School Geography are designed to describe a continuum of capabilities and expectations appropriate to the Australian teaching profession at four levels; graduate, proficient, highly accomplished and lead teacher.


Destination Spatial

Teachers are advised that Destination Spatial is a newly created education sub-committee which includes representatives from the spatial industries, tertiary institutions and subject associations, including the GTAV and Careers Teachers association. Careers in the spatial industry are underpinned by Geography and offer a number of opportunities in Australia and overseas with excellent wages and future prospects.

>> Further details


National Regional Profiles: The One Stop Shop for data about a geographic area

National Regional Profiles (NRP) available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website provide ‘snapshots’ for over 2,000 regions across Australia. The profiles contain a range of data from both the ABS and other sources, for geographic areas such as Local Government Areas, Statistical Local Areas up to States and Territories. The data are presented for a number of years (2004-2008) where it is available, and therefore provides the opportunity to compare regions over time. The National Regional Profiles are found on the left hand navigation bar of the home page of the ABS website.