National History Challenge Australia's Wartime Experiences category


Would you like to know more about History?

Do you like researching history?

Are you interested in Australia's wartime history?

Then this is the competition for you.

The National History Challenge (NHC) is open to primary and secondary school students across Australia. The theme for this year is 'Change and Continuity', and it is an opportunity for students to research and explore history in your own way. Plus, you could also win cash prizes or become Australia's young historian of the year.

Display the National History Challenge poster (PDF 1.6MB) to promote the competition in your school.

What the judges want to see

Judges are looking for entries that are historically accurate and show great research. They are also looking for how you use primary and secondary sources in your work. You can enter the competition with a research essay, a 3D model, or you may have another idea.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) is proud to sponsor the special category of 'Australia's Wartime Experiences'.

To enter this category, you must show evidence of using the Anzac Portal for your research.

We are looking for entries that give us new and creative views of continuity and change through Australia’s wartime experiences.

Entries close on Friday 25 August 2023.

Make sure you read the selection criteria and further information about entering the competition on the National History Challenge website.

A group of 5 standing men and 3 crouching in front. All men except 2 are First Nation Australians.

Informal group portrait of members of the 2/18th Australian Field Workshop, Tennant Creek, Australia, 1942. AWM P00898.001

Ideas for your research

You might already have some great ideas, but here are some suggestions that may interest you:

  • In what ways has the service of First Nations Australians changed over time and stayed the same?
  • Why did people volunteer to serve in a war or conflict? How have these reasons changed or remained the same since World War I? Were a person’s decisions influenced by their cultural background?
  • In today’s Australian Defence Forces, women work across hundreds of different roles, but this has not always been the case. How have the roles of women changed over time, and what aspects have remained?
  • We remember and honour the men and women who have served Australia in wars, conflicts and peace operations through commemoration. How has commemoration changed since World War I, and what traditions and symbols remain important to this day?
  • How has the Anzac tradition evolved?
  • This year marks 50 years since Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War ended. This was one of the longest conflicts in the 20th century. How did Australia’s participation in the war evolve during the war, and how did this war compare to other conflicts that involved Australia?

Need some help with your research? We have you covered. Use the content on our website to the best advantage in your entry!

A line of women holding booklets behind wooden trestle tables. Recruitment posters on the wall behind them.

A group of new recruits for the WAAAF with their enlistment papers, at No. 1 Recruit Centre, RAAF, Melbourne, c 1942. AWM VIC0498

Previous winners

Have a look at previous winning entries in ‘Australia’s Wartime Experiences’ special category.


Name: Angus Ellerman

School: Brisbane Grammar School

Entry summary: Angus presented a discussion of Australia’s involvement in the Second World War through the lens of foreign policy. He investigated changes in Australia’s military and diplomatic relations with an emphasis upon the war in the Pacific theatre of operations. Angus also considered how those changes influenced Australian foreign policy during and after the war.

Link to entry: Angus Ellerman Wartime Experiences (PDF 227KB)


Name: Isaac Robinson

School: Brisbane Grammar School

Entry summary: Isaac’s entry was an effective examination of how Australia’s relationship with Britain changed after the Fall of Singapore in 1942. He discussed the consequences of the Japanese conquest of Singapore and how Australia increasingly looked to America for support and protection as the Second World War unfolded. Isaac’s entry also considered how Australia’s relationship with America also influenced post-war regional strategies.


Name: Charles Merrifield

School: Denmark Senior High School

Entry summary: Charles presented a compelling investigation of the execution of Breaker Morant during the Boer War of 1899 – 1902. Morant’s trial and execution has been a topic of discussion for historians for many years. Charles looked at the evidence for and against the trial and judgement. His entry was a sophisticated interpretation of the 2020 NHC theme of ‘Contested Histories’.

Link to entry: Wartime C. Merrifield 2020 (PDF 537KB)


Names: Tom McCarthy-James, Rohin Bagga, Patrick Moore and Vijay Hari Kannan

School: Brisbane Grammar School

Summary: The entry from Tom, Rohin, Patrick and Vijay was a video featuring the students as expert historians in a ‘TV discussion panel’ format. The ‘panel’ set about examining the evolution of the Second World War in South-East Asia. Aspects such as Japanese expansionism, the Fall of Singapore and Australia’s shift to America for support are examined in the video. The students provided a range of perspectives as they responded to the 2019 NHC theme of ‘People and Power’.


Name: Hilary Andrews

School: St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls

Summary: Hilary applied the 2018 NHC theme of ‘Turning Points’ to an entry examining the Battle of Balmoral during the Vietnam War. The battle took place in 1968 at Fire Support Base (FSB) Balmoral, north of Bien Hoa in South Vietnam. Hilary used the experience of Brian Cleaver during the battle as the framework for her entry. Brian was an Australian national serviceman who served in Vietnam. He was at FSB Balmoral in May 1968 when Viet Cong forces twice attacked the base. Brian’s story of defending the base, surviving both attacks and being wounded is presented in Hilary’s entry. She looked at his story from the perspective of the ‘Turning Points’ theme. Hilary used historical information and interview content to investigate how Brian’s life changed as a result of being at FSB Balmoral that year.

Link to entry: Brian Cleaver in Vietnam

Last updated:

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), National History Challenge Australia's Wartime Experiences category, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 4 December 2023,
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