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Teacher background reading

‘Poster Design to Change the World’ is a multi-layered resource aimed at enriching understandings of the role of the practice of the graphic designer/artist, the design process, the audience and the world. It supports the teaching of Oxfam’s ‘Six Goals to Change the World’, the human rights principles that guide Oxfam’s work.

This resource has been developed to support the teaching of Visual Arts, Media Studies and Design. It can also complement learning in English (persuasive texts) and Humanities and Social Sciences (campaigning and political movements). It is designed to be used in Primary and Secondary classrooms.

Why posters?

We have all encountered education resources that simply ask students to “create a poster” in response to an issue or idea with little understanding of the nature of the field of design practice. In contrast, this resource aims to unpack some of the conceptual, material and artistic choices that inform successful poster design, and to support the development of an understanding of the complex role that Design and the Visual Arts play in shifting opinions, educating, and persuading audiences.

Designers seek to successfully employ a visual language as a system of signs and symbols that can be read and understood. Designers working on persuasive campaigns deal with the manipulation of imagery and text and use appropriate technology to engage and activate audiences.

In this light, the designer/artists in this education resource might also be seen as social agents who are influenced by the social and cultural values of the world in which they live, and who seek to comment on and make changes to the social, economic and political conditions of their time.

Teacher Handbooks

Download your teacher handbook, which includes the complementary student worksheets. Students can work through the content on or offline, however the teacher handbook is important for your teaching of this resource. It includes information on how to use the resource, why posters, curriculum links, various background readings, and step-by-step activity guides.




Order your free ‘Six Goals to Change the World’ poster pack

Together with Melbourne-based illustrator Steph Hughes, Oxfam Australia have produced a series of posters illustrating each of their six goals to change the world

These beautiful posters will brighten up your classroom and remind students of the human rights principles that guide Oxfam’s work around the world. They also form the basis of this unit of work, so will be handy to have in hard copy format.

Place your order today to receive your free six-pack of full colour A3 posters. Please note: we will pop your order in the post within a fortnight of receiving your request.


Core reading: The history of Oxfam Australia

What’s in a name?

Oxfam started as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in England in 1942. The group campaigned for food supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during the Second World War.

Oxfam in Australia

Oxfam Australia was born out of a merger between two leading Australian international development agencies — Community Aid Abroad and the Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign.

Community Aid Abroad began in Melbourne’s suburbs in 1953 as a church-affiliated group called Food for Peace Campaign, founded by Father Gerard Kennedy Tucker.

In 1962, a full-time campaign director was appointed and the name was changed to Community Aid Abroad. The new name reflected an aim to assist communities more broadly, rather than just providing food in order to maintain peace. Throughout the 1960s, local Community Aid Abroad groups were established across Australia.

The Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign was launched in 1961 following the launch of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s five-year campaign, Freedom from Hunger. This community-based campaign was aimed at raising global awareness about poverty issues around the world and provided opportunities for people to directly support anti-poverty programs in developing countries.

Membership was initially open to organisations rather than individuals and these included unions and community interest groups. The campaign grew to become a national organisation in 1964 that conducted appeals for countries including India, Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Ethiopia, and supported Aboriginal issues and programs in Australia.

The Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign and Community Aid Abroad merged in 1992 to become one of Australia’s largest international development organisations. As a founding member of Oxfam International, established in the late 1990s, the name changed to Oxfam Community Aid Abroad in 2001 and then to Oxfam Australia in 2005.

Today Oxfam Australia is an independent development organisation and carries out their work free from party-political or religious agendas.

60+ years of changing lives

In December 2013, Oxfam Australia celebrated 60 years of working to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.

Today Oxfam continues to work to save lives and help rebuild livelihoods when crisis strikes. And they campaign so that the voices of the poor influence the local and global decisions that affect them.

In all they do, Oxfam works with partner organisations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty. Because when people have the power to claim their basic human rights, they can escape poverty – permanently. This core belief underpins Oxfam’s programs in more than 90 countries.

Glossary of key terms

Appropriation: appropriation is the act of taking preexisting objects, ideas or imagery and using them in artmaking for a new purpose with little transformation of the original.

Intertextuality: the shaping of a text or an images meaning by its relationship to another text. The relationship between texts/images.

Conventions: traditional or culturally accepted ways of doing things based on audience expectations. Each art and design form has hundreds of conventions built up over time that are widely accepted by audiences.

Typography: the art and technique of creating and arranging type in an effective and legible way.

Visual Identity: the visual identity of a company includes their logo, typeface, the images they use to convey messages, and all design elements associated with their overall look. It’s the symbolic embodiment of the image the company wants to convey to the public.

Poster: a poster is a tool of communication (traditionally printed on paper) used to promote an idea or a product and its purpose is to engage and persuade the viewer.

Multimodal: an image or text that combines two of more semiotic systems. So a poster is multimodal because it combines visual, spatial and linguistic systems to contribute to the overall effect.

Conventions: a reflection of the ways things are usually done, or have been traditionally done in the past. They can be rules or guidelines that are written. They might also be unwritten but generally known and acknowledged as an accepted or followed way.

Postmodern: art and design after that sought to challenge some of the conventions of modernism. Characterised by an exploration of new media and techniques, appropriation, irony, pastiche and parody.

Symbolic/Symbolism: something (in art this is an image) that represents something else.

Polysemic: the capacity to have several possible meanings.