Investigation 4

What kind of national monument should commemorate Federation?

The Australian Capital Territory was established in New South Wales to be the place for the national parliament. In 1927, the Commonwealth Parliament began sitting in Canberra, in the building that today is known as Old Parliament House. Originally planned as a temporary home, it served as the location for the Parliament for more than 60 years. In 1988, the Parliament moved to the present site on Capital Hill.

The city of Canberra has many landmarks that pay tribute to aspects of the Australian nation and to significant national figures. Federation was an important milestone in Australia’s history, and its significance has been commemorated in various ways over the years. But, it has no national monument.

Use your knowledge and imagination to think of a monument to commemorate Federation and the values it represents—now and into the future. You might consider how Australia has changed and developed over more than a century, and what kind of monument could reflect new and different elements of Australia’s national identity.

Your Task

Design a monument to Federation that reflects the values Federation represents today.


  1. In small groups, use a concept map to brainstorm monuments. Think about the purposes of monuments and how they communicate or reflect events, people and ideals.
  2. Use the internet and library to research monuments in Canberra and discover their design and purposes. The Australian War Memorial and Reconciliation Place are two examples. Choose a monument and write a brief description of it, taking care to describe how it fulfils its purpose.
  3. In your groups, brainstorm what you know about Federation, using an affinity diagram to classify your ideas. Use headings such as ‘Values’, ‘People’, ‘Places’, ‘Events’, ‘Artefacts’, etc.
  4. Using your affinity diagram, come to an agreement about what you want to emphasise or highlight about Federation. Brainstorm ideas for the design of a Federation monument. Discuss the following questions.
    • What will your monument represent about Federation?
    • What will it represent about Australia today?
    • What material will be used to make it?
    • What shape will it be?
    • What colours, symbols and/or words will it use?
    • Where will it be located?
    • What do you want people to think and feel when they see it?
  5. Present your ideas for a monument to the class with plans, diagrams, sketches or models.
  6. As a class, vote on the best proposal. Discuss how you might let the government know about your ideas.