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Australia Becoming Involved In World War 1 History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

In October 1914, Australia became involved in World War 1 which changed Australia. The women in Australia had more roles besides taking care of the family. They were offered opportunities to help serve the country and they also founded organizations which helped with the war. Hughes allowed women to vote in the referendum for conscription. Hughes introduced conscription to Australia, saying it was the only way to get more troops to go to war. World War 1 also affected Australia’s economy. Prices were raised greatly and there were many strikes in major cities to lower the prices because ordinary classes workers couldn’t keep up with the raised prices. More than 400,000 men volunteered to go to war. 65% of them were either killed, wounded or captured which was higher than any other Australia’s allies, Canada, Britain and New Zealand. Australia became a nation in 1901 and was finally recognized after the war.

Women played huge roles in World War 1 at the home front. They managed their family and many became nurses and other duties which contributed to the military services. Women became cooks, stretcher bearers and interpreters. The war caused women to take care of their family without support from their husband. Women were open to a variety of jobs as the men were at the war and there were voluntary work for women to contribute to the war. The Australian Women’s Service Corps (AWSC) was formed in 1916 and several women joined. They performed tasks at the battle front that didn’t involve combat. They worked as ambulance drivers, cooks and nurses. Women weren’t taken seriously and the Defence Department didn’t want women to involve in the war as it was dangerous Women who entered the work force were working short-term as the men would come back from the war so they could take back their job. There were several organizations; one was created by the wife of the Governor-General, which was named the ‘Australian Branch of the British Red Cross Society’. She was the president of the club and the organization was focused on gaining donations. People didn’t want to appoint nurses as they thought women couldn’t keep up with the war’s demands. The Australian Army Nursing Service allowed women to help during World War 1 overseas. They cleaned wounds and provided aid to men in war. War gave women an opportunity to serve Australia and they did charity work and fundraising. The Australian Red Cross was founded in 1914 by mainly middle-class women. The Red Cross raised money for “comfort boxes” for the soldiers. Comfort boxes contain knitted socks and scarves which women knitted. Women experienced sadness from the war, women also campaigned against the war and also, against the introduction of conscription.

Conscription is forcing citizens to enlist in joining the army. In 1916, the Prime Minister, Hughes introduced conscription to gather more troops to fight in World War 1. Hughes wanted to introduce Conscription because he needed to have an army with full strength. In 1915, Andrew Fisher resigned as the prime minister and the job was taken by Billy Hughes. He was a determined war leader. There were many men whom were unwilling to join as they opposed to fighting. Hughes wanted 50000 new troops but not many men volunteered so in 1916, Hughes knew no other method to recruit more men but to introduce Conscription. In the Australian Nationalists poster, it shows that if conscription is introduced, then some children would lose their father. This shows how conscription could affect families. Source 3 shows a child telling his mother to vote “No” for conscription as it will affect them. Hughes held a referendum to support his idea to introduce conscription. Many people agreed to his idea but a little more people agreed to the idea of not introducing conscription. 49% agreed to conscription and 51% opposed to conscription. The next year Hughes wanted to hold another referendum to, once again, try and introduce conscription but this time, more people opposed to conscription by a larger margin. Some women didn’t approve of conscription. Source 1 shows how women didn’t approve of it. The slogan saying, “I didn’t raise my son to become a soldier.” Archbishop Mannix also didn’t want conscription to be introduced. He hoped that Australia would be successful in the war and have peace without conscription. Prime Minister Hughes held the national referendum, allowing women to vote. “For the first time in history the voice of woman is to speak directly on the greatest question that can confront any community.” Hughes’s reasons for conscription was because it would affect the future of Australia and also, Britain, New Zealand and Canada, who are the allies, are sending more troops so Australia should do so as well. Source 2 is asking Australians to vote “No” to conscription. It called the referendum the “Death Ballot” which shows that if voters choose yes, then they are putting the men of Australia in danger and possible death.

World War 1 had a great effect on Australia’s economy. Australia had to cancel trade agreements with Germany and as a result, industries such as the steel making industry had to have contracts with German rivals. Wool, wheat and meat were made sure to be shipped to Britain to help them with the war. The government passed a law which allowed them to take wheat and wool harvests. There became shortages in the items and they were sold at a very high price in which ordinary classed workers couldn’t cope with and it lead to major strikes. Whole wool prices raised by 55% and in 1915, no wool was available to Britain from Russia. To solve the worker’s strikes, the commonwealth had war loans and peace loans. During the war, international shipping of materials and products were disrupted and the imports to Australia were reduced. Australia began to manufacture their own industry as a result of the disruption of imports to Australia. The war, though, removed competition because after the war ended, more than 400 new products were introduced to Australia.

There were several influences from World War 1 to the home front. Women became more involved in the nation and there were opportunities offered to women to help serve the nation. Jobs were given to women because the men were away and organizations were created by women to give aid to the men in the war. Conscription was introduced by Billy Hughes, the prime minister of Australia. It was because of lack of troops volunteering to fight for Australia. Two referendums were held to vote on whether to allow conscription and for both referendums, majority of Australia vote “No” on allowing conscription. It was also the first time women were allowed to vote. Finally, Australia’s economy was affected and the prices of items such as wool and meat raised by a large margin, leaving the ordinary classed workers unable to cope with the price rises. Workers had a strike which the government had to solve by loaning money off their allies. After the war, there were less competition though, and more than 400 new products were introduced to Australia.


Source 1. “I didn’t raise my son to be a soldier.”

Souce 2. “The Death Ballot.”

Source 3. “Married men are exempt if the government proposals are carried, but if they are rejected, all will have to go.”

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