National History Challenge

The National History Challenge is a research-based competition for students in years 5 to 12.  It emphasises and rewards quality research, the use of community resources and effective presentation. 

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Australian War Memorial jointly support the annual competition and sponsor a special category for wartime history entitled Celebrations, Memories and History In War and Peace.

The competition is run by the History Teachers’ Association of Australia.  The competition closes in August 2011 and the national awards presentation is held in Canberra in December.

The Challenge is open to students from years 5 to 12 who can progress through regional, state/territory and national finals. Students can present their work in one of four formats:

  • Individual research essay;
  • a three dimensional museum display;
  • a multimedia format (audio/video/website); or
  • a performance.

Information and registration forms can be found at


The 2011 theme for the National History Challenge is Defining Moments. Students are invited to enter the In War and Peace special category of the National History Challenge by undertaking a research project on the issues relating to this theme.

Getting started with your research

Nearly a million Australian servicemen and women have served Australia in wartime. Their impact on the places they served in and the memories they left are worthy of study. How Australians saw the enemy varied from place to place. The Australians on Gallipoli had a great respect for Johnny Turk. How Australians were treated as prisoners of war and how Australians treated enemy prisoners and internees are important questions.

In considering your research for the In War and Peace category you may wish to investigate some of the suggestions given here or think about your own ideas.

How did wartime impact on the lives and culture of serving Australians?

How have Australian servicemen and women contributed to world peace? How has the Australian perception of war changed over time?

Consider how many foreign wars Australia has been involved in since Federation and what influences these may have had on the development of a young nation and its identity. Each event can be seen as a decisive step in a longer historical process, such as the evolution of Australian national identity or an independent Australian foreign policy.

Topic questions you may wish to consider:

  • Why was the Battle of Mont St Quentin a defining moment of the First World War?
  • Has the ANZAC story defined the Australian identity?
  • Which theatre of operations in the First World War defined the Australian experience of war?

You can research a person or an event:

  • an Australian soldier, nurse, sailor, airman or woman
  • someone from your own family
  • a particular conflict or peacekeeping mission
  • someone from your own community.

Good luck with your research for the National History Challenge.

Useful sources

Students are encouraged to undertake their research project using a range of primary and family history sources. Look at our website for information about military history and people. Look at our online databases (Collection and Biographical) and Encyclopedia.  Ask your teacher to borrow a Memorial box for classroom use. Visit the Australian War Memorial to get a firsthand look at Australians at war.
Here is a list of useful websites:


State/Territory winners will receive a cash prize of $200. The winning entries may be published in Wartime, the official magazine of the Australian War Memorial.

National winner/s will receive a cash prize of $300 and travel to Canberra to attend the National Presentation Ceremony in Mural Hall, Parliament House. The National History Challenge covers travel, meals, accommodation and incidental costs to, from, and whilst in Canberra.

Further information

Australian War Memorial
Carmel Gillespie
Assistant Manager Education
Education and Visitor Services
Phone :(02) 6243 4217
Fax :(02) 6243 4541