Australians in the national service schemes from 1951 to 1972 poster

Australians in the national service schemes from 1951 to 1972 poster cover

We've created this poster to commemorate the contribution of Australians conscripted into the national service schemes from 1951 to 1972.

This poster depicts national service recruits working together to complete an obstacle course while training at Puckapunyal in Victoria before deployment to Vietnam in the late 1960s.

Display our poster to help remember and recognise all those who served. Use the landscape-oriented version for digital displays.

Series: Commemorative posters

Reflective snapshot

In November 1951, the Australian Government wanted to ensure the country’s readiness for a major war. At the time, Australians were fighting communist forces in Korea. So the government introduced a compulsory scheme of national military service for adult males. As a secondary objective, the scheme was also intended to improve young men’s physical fitness. Most conscripts went into the Army. They were obliged to undertake 2 periods of full-time training. The Navy and Air Force required a continuous period in uniform, which may have involved an overseas deployment. When the scheme was abandoned in November 1959, more than 220,000 Australians had been called up.

A second scheme was introduced in November 1964 in response to Australian fears of conflict with Indonesia. Under this scheme, conscripts were liable for overseas service. Although the threat from Indonesia did not materialise, a large number of national servicemen deployed to Vietnam. Their presence in a theatre of war and the deaths of many conscripts led to widespread protest and dissent in Australia. At the same time, many thousands of national servicemen completed their obligation in Australia. They were spared the experience of war although many were prepared to go if they were called upon. Some 63,000 served in this scheme. Of about 20,000 national servicemen who went to Vietnam, more than 200 lost their lives.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Was this page helpful?
We can't respond to comments or queries via this form. Please contact us with your query instead.