The Impact of Australian Involvement in the Vietnam War

Essay by aubreytseHigh School, 10th grade March 2008

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Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War had a huge impact on Australian society in the 1960s and 1970s. It affected many aspects of Australian society and brought up many social, political, psychological and physical issues. The Vietnam War was a ‘TV War’ and a lot of violent and disturbing footage of the war was broadcast into people’s homes every day. Australia had mixed opinions about going to war but the public had almost no say as military conscription was introduced in November 1964. It was only when American soldiers pulled out in 1972 that the Australians left Vietnam.

Socially, Australia was split into two opposing sides: those who believed that Australia had nothing to do with the war and those who believed we were preventing communism reaching Australia. Most of Australians supported the war but knew little or were deceived about why the war had started. Trade unions were divided and the ACTU demanded action against the war.

University students decided to take action against the war and formed the YCAC to organise marches and demonstrations. Mothers also got involved and founded the Save Our Sons movement which held silent protest vigils. However, the fear of communism reaching Australia also united the nation socially.

Those who were in favour of going to the war were mostly Liberal supporters, as Robert Menzies, who was Prime Minister at the time, was from the Liberal Party. Those who were against the war were mostly Labor Party supporters and it was Gough Whitlam, the next Prime Minister who was from the Labor Party, who led Australia out of the war. According to people who were against the war, the Australian Government joined the war to show USA how good they were. In 1966, Gordon Barton formed the Liberal Reform Movement because of the deep...