Number calculations - Stolen wages

Year 9/10

Suggested duration: One lesson


In this lesson, students will look at the issue of stolen wages. The reparation offers over the years to Indigenous Australians who had their wages stolen will be examined in the light of comparative wages of the time, and what the amounts would be when simple interest and compound interest are considered. The worksheets included provide practice for performing mathematical calculations in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

From the late 1800s and through much of the twentieth century, govern­ments controlled most aspects of our lives and this included our wages, pensions and endowments. Often we received none of our wage, or only a portion of what was due to us, with the remainder kept in various govern­ment trust funds (The Little Red Yellow Black Book, p. 138).

Learning outcomes

  • Students will be able to solve calculations involving simple and compound interest formulas. 
  • Students will use real life scenarios from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ history for understanding and solving money related problems.
General capabilities Cross-curriculum priorities
Numeracy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
Critical and creative thinking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures organising ideas: 6, 9

Australian Curriculum content descriptions

Year 9 Mathematics

  • Solve problems involving simple interest (ACMNA211).
  • Graph simple non-linear relations with and without the use of digital technologies and solve simple related equations (ACMNA296).
  • Identify everyday questions and issues involving at least one numerical and at least one categorical variable, and collect data directly and from secondary sources (ACMSP228).

Year 10 Mathematics

  • Connect the compound interest formula to repeated applications of simple interest using appropriate digital technologies (ACMNA229).
  • Solve problems involving linear equations, including those derived from formulas (ACMNA235).

Provisions for differentiation

Learning support

Students with learning difficulties may need to use a calculator in the non-calculator section of the Activity worksheet.


Students could create their own graphic organiser, presenting the data from one of the questions using a column or bar graph format.


  • Double-sided copies of the Student resource sheet (PDF) and Activity worksheets (PDF) - one per student
  • The Little Red Yellow Black Book — an introduction to Indigenous Australia (4th edition), ‘Our Shared History’, Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS, Canberra, 2018, p 138.

For teachers

Ensure that the guidance notes included in The Little Red Yellow Black Book teacher resource have been considered.


  • Simple interest
  • Compound interest
  • Reparations
  • Compensation

Preparation: Photocopy the Student resource sheet and Activity worksheet — one double-sided copy per student.

Step 1.

Distribute the Student resource sheet and Activity worksheet. Ask students to read page 138 of The Little Red Yellow Black Book before starting the activities. Discuss the information presented in the book with the class and identify the areas they need to focus on to complete the activities.

Step 2.

Ensure that students understand the tasks. Explain that there are calculator and non-calculator activities to complete. Set them 40 minutes to complete the Activity worksheet.

Step 3.

Write up the answers to the Activity worksheet questions on the board and have the students check their results.

Assessment ideas

  • Completed and corrected activity worksheet


    1. 74 years
    2. $2,684,000
    3. 14,150
    4. 764,864.86 per year. No, it is not realistic as it assumes that no one had more than about $140 per year stolen.
    5. 5500 - 1342 = 4158 people
    6. 30,000 per year
    7. 45,000 for the three years
    8. 5.8 million divided by 3000 claimants; divided by 30 years = around $6445 per year, which represents only around a fifth of their average annual wage of $30,000.
    9. 27.62% (5.8 million divided by 21 million x 100)
    1. $20,800
    2. $10,400
    3. $520
    1. $125 per week
    2. 18,750 (50 weeks) x 2 years = $37,500
    3. 18,750 + (10%) 1,875 = $20625
      20625 + (10%) 2062.50 = $22687.50
Last reviewed: 8 Nov 2019