Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people please be aware that this resource contains images and names of deceased persons
Over 400,000 people enlisted to serve for Australia in the First World War. While some volunteers were rejected because of their age, height, or size, the Defence Act stated that people “not substantially of European origin or descent” were excluded. Regardless, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enlisted, as did Australians of Asian, Mediterranean, and Northern European heritage.
Once accepted into the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), individuals experienced a sense of friendship and equality that was often absent from civilian life. Service personnel could access the same training, education, travel and pay, and faced the same horrors of war, regardless of their background or skin colour. While many friendships endured long after the war, equality did not. Some Anzacs returned home to face the same discrimination they had encountered before the war.
Recommended year level
This resource is designed for upper primary and secondary students.
How to use this resource
This resource has been separated into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Chinese, and European Anzacs. Within each area, you will find case studies and activities. While these can be used together, teachers and students are also encouraged to repurpose the material to provide diverse perspectives in pre-existing units of work around Australians in the First World War.
A range of primary and secondary source materials are available in the activity sections, with a focus on personal stories, source analysis, locating and understanding service records, and exploring policies and perspectives from the past.
Links to the Australian Curriculum
This resource links to the Civics and citizenship, and History areas of the curriculum. Some activities also connect strongly with Visual arts, and the case study content could be used for various English activities. A summary of curriculum connections for both primary and secondary levels can be found here: