VCE Australian history - units 3 & 4

Guide for VCE Australian history students

Creating a nation (1834-1913)

Students investigate the changing patterns of migration to and within the colonies and federated Australia, and the social, political and economic factors influencing the colonies.

They examine the attitudes towards Indigenous peoples and the influence of European and Chinese migration on the diverse perspectives about who was included and who belonged. Students examine debates that influenced immigration and forced migration to the colonies and federated Australia, and the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Students consider how these perspectives influenced the new nation after 1901 and decisions about who was to be included or excluded. (VCE History Study Design 2022–2026 p.56)


Victorian Acts of Parliament

Victorian & Commonwealth Acts of Parliament for the period may give a flavour of the priorities and attitude of the colonial government during the 19th century and the state and Commonwealth government after federation in 1901.

Prior to 1851 Victoria was known as the Port Phillip District and subject to the laws of New South Wales

Some examples of Acts that inform this area of study: 



For further legislation:


Newspapers are a great source of information. They report on the issues of the day and reflect the attitudes of the time.


Trove refine search


Trove ANA article location


See these examples for articles that reflect attitudes of the time.

British newspapers 

Personal narratives & diaries

There are a range of first hand accounts of life in the early colonial days of the Port Phillip District and Victoria.

These will either be accounts written from the authors memories, or diaries written as events occurred.

Memoirs are more considered and have the benefit of hindsight.

Diaries are immediate and give instant impressions, often they were more personal and provide detail that a later memoir, written for publication, may not have.

Here are some examples of both diaries and memoirs. Click 'View online' tab for full text

The Early Experiences in Australasia database will also be helpful for primary sources.

Victorian & British Parliamentary Papers

See these examples - use 'Search within' option at left of screen to find specific references to Aborigines; Chinese; Port Phillip District (prior to 1851) 

  • Correspondence relative to recent discovery of gold in Australia - 1852; 1852/3; 1854; 1854/5; 1856; 1857
  • Correspondence relative to Condition of Licensed Occupiers of Crown Lands in Port Philip and New South Wales Despatch, February 1841
  • Papers relative to Crown Lands in Australian Colonies: Part I. (New South Wales and Victoria) 1852/3
  • Despatches of Governors of Australian Colonies, illustrative of Condition of Aborigines 1844 

Separation from New South Wales

Glorious News! Separation at last H38464

Glorious News! Separation at last H38464 

Victoria becomes a self governing colony

Poster from Melbourne Morning Herald, 11 November 1850, when news reached Melbourne that the Australian Constitutions Act 1850 (An Act for the better Government of Her Majesty's Australian Colonies) had been passed by the British Parliament.

News of this Act was met with great jubilation as it paved the way for the establishment of Victoria as a separate colony.

See also these items from British Parliamentary Papers:

  • Correspondence on Australian Colonies Government Bill 1850
  • Further papers relative to the alterations in the constitutions of the Australian colonies 1851

In May 1851 NSW passed the Victoria Electoral Act. Victoria became a separate colony on 1 July 1851.