THE OASIS – Owen’s account of life on the street
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The Oasis – Owen’s account of life on the street

Educational not-for-profit Cool Australia returns with a lesson plan exploring the confronting nature of homelessness.

This lesson plan will show students a different side to the world they thought they knew and inspire them to take action to address an issue that really matters. THE OASIS is a powerful documentary exploring real life stories of young people facing homelessness and the people who support them. Cool Australia, in partnership with Shark Island Productions, provides free-to-access Year 9–12 units of work that use selected clips from the docume2017 Cool Australia - THE OASIS (Secondary) Image 5ntary to teach English, Health and Physical Education. Each lesson plan includes curriculum links, teaching tips, fact sheets, assessment ideas and access to free educational videos.


Students consider Owen’s experience of iving on the street and the reasons that he is experiencing homelessness. They explore their own responses to Owen’s experiences, and then analyse the manner in which Owen’s story is told through a deeper investigation into film techniques and how they affect the audience’s interpretation of the story being told.


General capabilities: Critical and crative thinking, ethical understanding, literacy
English: Years 9-12
Time Required: 120 minutes (or 2 x 60 minutes)


Film –
Student worksheet – oasis-english-owens-account/
Film techniques fact sheet – content/uploads/2016/02/Film-techniques-Factsheet.pdf


10 minutes – Part A: My home
25 minutes – Part B: THE OASIS clip viewing and understanding 10 minutes – Part C: My reaction to Owen’s story
25 minutes – Part D: Film technique exploration

2017 Cool Australia - THE OASIS (Secondary) Image 410 minutes – Reflection


Step 1: Invite students to explore the idea of home and the way they would like to feel at home. Ask students to name some of the things they love to do the most when they’re at home. Students complete this personal reflection activity and then share their thoughts using the think-pair-square method – which encourages students to justify their reasoning. You could use these questions to guide the discussion:

• What is the activity you love to do at home?
• Who does it with you? (If no one is required, are you left to 2017 Cool Australia - THE OASIS (Secondary) Image 6
so on your own?)
• What do you feel when you’re doing this activity?
• What about ‘being at home’ more generally – how do you feel
Step 2: Summarise this part of the lesson by reinforcing that we all like to feel a certain way when we’re at home and are entitled to a feeling of safety and security.


Step 1: As a class, watch the film to learn more about Owen’s story.

Step 2: After watching Owen’s story, ask students to note down one phrase spoken by Owen that stood out to them on sticky notes, and stick them up on a space on the wall/whiteboard in random order.
Step 3: Create a mindmap to group the phrases by moving the pieces of paper that are the same or similar into themes. Use those themes to have a class discussion about Owen’s story.


Ask students to choose one word that explains their reaction to Owen’s story. Encourage students to then write a short paragraph that explains why they chose that word.


Individually, in pairs or in groups, students explore how the film influences the audience to think about Owen’s reasons for being homeless. Ask students to analyse the way that film techniques are used to portray Owen and his story and how the audience is ultimately influenced to feel a certain way about Owen and his situation.

Step 1: Consider the following…when he’s telling his story, Owen lists some pretty serious crimes that he’s committed. And yet, it could be suggested that we as the audience aren’t afraid of him. Why is that? We could start by considering what the film director shows us. For example, how are Owen’s experiences shown to the audience by the director and how does that influence our view of him?

Directors always use film techniques to influence the audience to see the subject of their film in a certain light, and everything we see on the screen is intentionally included.

Considering that, let’s explore some film techniques and their purpose and effect to find out a little more about how the film changes our understanding of Owen’s reasons for being homeless.

Step 2: Students choose a film technique to investigate, and respond to the following:

• Define the film technique and its intended effect
• How is the technique used during Owen’s story?
• What is the effect on the audience?
• What are your thoughts on Owen’s reasons for homelessness and how does the film technique in influence your opinion of him?

Students could start their research using Cool Australia’s Film Techniques Factsheet.


Students’ initial research and exploration of the film techniques as they apply to how Owen’s story is told in THE OASIS could be expanded and presented in a way that they choose, for example, an analytical essay – 500+ words and explanatory presentation.

Use screenshots from the film to create an annotated story board.

Write a quiz (with answers) for classmates.

Discover the whole English unit of work at

Correction: An earlier version of this story published in Education Matters Secondary May 2017 – October 2017 contained the incorrect images. This article contains the images originally intended for publication. 

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