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Operation Buffalo (ATOM Study Guide)

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Set during the hostile, distrustful and paranoid climate of the Cold War, Operation Buffalo is a fictional exploration of a disturbing chapter in Australian history. From 1956 to 1963, the British government carried out nuclear tests and trials in outback South Australia with the full cooperation of the Australian government at the time, then led by the anglophile Robert Menzies. A range of characters and narratives unfurl throughout the 6-part series, yet a key set of ideas frame the show’s overarching trajectory, which include: state control over knowledge of contamination impact; the hypocrisy that making bombs means safety; and the non-colonial perspective represented by Aboriginal Australia.

Operation Buffalo explores many topics, making it suitable across a range of learning areas. This study guide has been written for Years 9-12 and includes activities that enable to students develop a deeper understanding of a range of topics including Australian history, government control, indigenous displacement, armament, ethics, and film in the Cold War era. Students are given opportunities to develop to comprehension and close analysis skills, writing and speaking skills.

Curriculum Links:

The following learning areas are covered: 

  • English (Years 9 & 10)
  • History (Year 9)
  • Civics and Citizenship (Years 9 & 10)

Activities also addresses the General Capabilities:

  • Ethical Understanding
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • Critical and Creative Thinking




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