So you want to become an Australian War Memorial Voluntary Guide!

Volunteer guide

The Australian War Memorial’s long tradition of enhancing our visitor experience through tours showcasing the Memorial’s galleries and telling the story of Australia’s wartime experience commenced over 40 years ago. With more than 100 active volunteers, the Australian War Memorial Voluntary Guides provide world-class service 364 days a year, delivering up to 16 free tours each day.

Extensive training is required to provide successful applicants with the tools needed to deliver an exceptional visitor experience. Accordingly, the Memorial conducts only one recruitment process for voluntary guides each year. Formal training commences in late February and concludes mid-July, with a further self-directed component running for an additional three to four months afterwards.

While we actively recruit voluntary guides only across December and January, we happily accept all applications lodged outside this period. Anyone submitting an application during this time will be contacted early in the New Year to re-confirm interest.

Additional information relating to the voluntary guide training can be viewed at the below links.

If being a voluntary guide at a world-class national institution sounds like a challenge you are ready to embrace, please complete a Registration of Interest

For any general voluntary guide enquiries, please call (02) 6243 4482 or email volguide.register@awm.gov.au.

“I come from a military family and have always had a love of military history.  Volunteering as a guide at the Australian War Memorial is extremely rewarding and it allows me to give back to the community. It also enables me to provide visitors to the Memorial with a more personalised experience by sharing with them the stories of those who have worn our uniform.”

Gill Pennock - a voluntary guide for two years.

Training objective

The overall objective of the Voluntary Guide Training Program is to qualify successful applicants to be active Australian War Memorial Voluntary Guides (VG), capable of committing to and undertaking the following responsibilities:

  • Represent the Australian War Memorial in an appropriate manner, ensuring its high-standing and reputation is maintained.
  • Deliver a 90-minute walking tour of the Memorial to visitors, highlighting the Memorial’s commemorative function, its galleries, and its archive and research functions.
  • Develop and maintain a good knowledge of the Memorial’s history and significance.
  • Develop and maintain a good knowledge of the history of Australia’s involvement in war and on operational service.

The Voluntary Guide Basic Training Team consists entirely of Memorial VGs. The Training Team Assessor holds a current Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and the Basic Training Team Manager is a member of the Voluntary Guides’ Committee.All members of the training team have the demonstrated knowledge and experience to assist and support you throughout this journey. Additionally, all components of the training program are overseen by the Manager, Visitor Services.

“It is a most rewarding experience to volunteer at the Australian War Memorial, to guide visitors through what is one of the finest military museums in the world. My passion stems from interaction with visitors, helping with their understanding and remembrance. There is also an opportunity to provide a Memorial experience and an appreciation of the contribution and sacrifice made by the Australian armed forces.”

Murray Hanson - a voluntary guide for 21 years.

Annual Training Program Summary

To achieve qualification as a Memorial VG, successful applicants will be required to undertake and successfully complete a program involving approximately nine months of training – some formal and some self-directed – comprising the following activities:

  • the Basic Training Course (February–July);
  • a probationary period during which 12 public tours, with some limited oversight, are to be delivered (July–November); and
  • a final performance review in which successful applicants will be required to demonstrate their ability to perform as an active Memorial VG.

Basic Training Course

The Basic Training Course involves more than four months of formal training at the Australian War Memorial. During the course successful applicants will be required to:

  • attend weekly training sessions each Tuesday evening, as well as several prescribed Saturday training sessions;
  • complete eight individual short-talk exercises and the associated written exercises within prescribed timeframes;
  • deliver a 90-minute demonstration tour (as a member of a small team);
  • complete a written theory paper containing knowledge-assessment questions; and
  • successfully complete a 90-minute assessed tour delivered to members of the training team.

In summary, the course combines lectures, presentations, discussions, and practical exercises with the aim of developing presentation and story-telling skills, along with knowledge of the Memorial’s galleries, Australia’s involvement in war and operational service, and the Memorial’s interpretation of these events. Successful applicants must successfully complete the course, culminating with the 90-minute assessed tour, before being cleared to proceed with the training program.

Time commitment

In addition to attending the formal training sessions, exercises and tours, successful applicants will also need to commit a considerable amount of their private time for necessary research, preparation, and practice in the Memorial’s galleries in order to achieve the required standards of knowledge. This means additional “out-of-hours” work, and will necessitate significant time-management skills in order to successfully balance other life and work commitments.