Thursday 8 May 2014 by Kathleen Cusack. 2 comments
Education at the Memorial, Memorial box banter, News

Nearly a century has passed since the First World War began. It has been almost seventy five years since the Second World War and over fifty years since the arrival of Australian troops in Vietnam. It is little wonder that it can be challenging for students today to understand the contribution Australians have made in wartime.

Memorial Boxes are consistently booked out each year in the weeks leading up to Anzac Day as schools search for a way to make the commemorations meaningful for their students. The resources allow students to put their hands on history by placing them in the shoes of those who served and those who waited for their loved ones at home.

Lindsay Park Public School in Wollongong, New South Wales, used their Memorial Box loan as an opportunity to have a Vietnam veteran, Mr Peter Poulton, speak to their Stage 3 students about his experiences. The students were particularly enthralled with Mr Poulton’s descriptions of the food he ate and the uniforms he wore as a soldier serving in Vietnam. The Memorial Box the school borrowed contains samples of these and much more and the students were thrilled to be able to put their hands on these artefacts. 

Across the border, Brindabella Christian College in Lyneham, Australian Capital Territory, set up a Second World War Memorial Box in their library. Each class explored the contents and this helped even their very young students understand the purpose and importance of Anzac Day.

Thank you to both Lindsay Park Public School and Brindabella Christian College for sharing their experiences.

If you would like to find out more about the Memorial Box program, please email


David Stephens

How do 'descriptions of the food he ate and the uniforms he wore' give a rounded, honest description of the experience of an Australian soldier in Vietnam, let alone the impact of the war on civilian populations? And if a rounded, honest description is not possible, given the age of the audience, should we bother at all?

Stuart Baines

Thank you David for your input. It’s always good to ask these sorts of questions of ourselves.

The understanding of the human experience of history is important in encouraging empathy and creating connection. I hope that the Memorial Box program provides a tool for teachers to engage their students in this part of our history no matter their age. The resources in the box allow teachers to look at a variety of aspects of the conflict and depending on the level of the students and their place in the curriculum, can be approached from many perspectives.

Congrats to the teachers at Lindsay Park Public and thank you for sharing your story.