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Conscription and the Vietnam War

            The Vietnam War was a prolonged conflict, extending from 1954 to 1975, between the communist government of North Vietnam and the non-communist government of the South. Good Morning Afternoon. In Australia, public opinion on the war in Vietnam moved through several stages throughout its involvement in the war. Initially, the Australian public paid little attention and were largely disinterested in a war that included very few Australian troops. This however, soon changed; Australia's involvement in the war was increased with the calling up of conscripts. Public support for the war deteriorated rapidly and popular culture in Australia began to turn people away from the war. Images of horrific violence and executions were delivered on televisions throughout the country and many protest movements, songs and propaganda posters began to emerge. Consequently, this ensured hostility and a huge loss of public support which ultimately led to political leaders announcing the gradual withdrawal from the war.
             Conscription, also known as national service, is a system of enrolment where it is compulsory for men and women to join the armed forces. The idea of Compulsory military training was introduced by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin in 1909. Labor government immediately abolished this scheme following an election in October 1929. In November 1964, the National Service scheme was introduced by Robert Menzies and his government and it operated until December 1972, when the newly elected Whitlam Labor Government suspended it. The scheme involved a ballot of birthdays for twenty-year-old men who had registered their names with the Department of Labour and National Service. A certain number of labelled marbles were drawn randomly by hand, one at a time while Australian families watched nervously on their television screens and listened on their radios throughout the country. [ CITATION Sue97 l 3081 ] .

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