For inspiration, take a look at some successful entries from the Premier’s Spirit of ANZAC Prize. Remember, you’re not limited to the format of these entries.
- School: Loreto College, Ballarat
- Year of entry: 2017
- Topic: What impact did World War One have on Australian Society?
Statement of intent
I chose to represent what impact WWI had on Australian Society by doing an embroidery using different images and symbols to reflect on how Australia’s society changed. I thought that doing an embroidery would be most appropriate because the thread used for this art piece represents threads of our society. It also exhibits the individual stories that are a part of our society and how the embroidery consumes time like war takes time – time away from family, time spent abroad, all about time mirrors their own version of time.
After researching this topic in the classroom, on the internet, using books and in discussions with fellow classmates I got a clearer understanding on how WWI impacted our society.
In my embroidery I included the following: Circle of poppies, Man wearing a slouch hat looking solemn, The Australian Army Rising Sun badge, Silhouette of men fighting and wounded, Trench with three soldiers' heads poking out showing their helmets, Ship travelling on the ocean, Remembrance Shrine from Gallipoli, Nurse looking down and Rosemary bushes surrounding the silhouettes of the soldiers. I used these symbols because they are recognisable and they represent our involvement in a war that set us free and gave us our freedom.
I made a circle of poppies for the border because as the poppies are vastly remembered as the symbol for the soldiers that fought and died for us. They are organised in an oval that is connected because the poppies connect all the soldiers together and all the families impacted by the war.
I placed The Australian Army Rising Sun badge in the centre of my embroidery because the army controlled and decided people's fate and family misfortune and that after the war you are still remembered for what you did and what you accomplished. I placed the silhouettes of the men fighting around the aged man in the slouch hat because after the war as he has aged he is remembering the times in the battlefield and how dark and dirty that time in the trenches was.
The silhouette closest to the man is in more colour than the rest showing that the memory closest to him was becoming clearer and makes him feel like he is in the battlefield once again. I also added three men showing the tops of their heads out of the trenches representing how confined their space was and how they relied on each other for support and would be more connected.
The ship on the ocean is placed in the top of my piece to symbolise the soldiers and nurses travelling a long way overseas in the dark water with heavy waves crashing against the ship implying the hard voyage. The Remembrance Shrine from Gallipoli is in the right-hand corner; I put this there to represent that in Gallipoli there are shrines to remember the great losses from all the countries that fought in Gallipoli in World War I.
There is a nurse helping a wounded soldier to represent that women and men were both needed to help in some way for the war efforts, which impacted Australian families and society by having everyone being needed and abolishing the hierarchy of the males being the only people who can be at war and make a difference to the war and the world. Our society’s view was changed by having everyone being needed to help Australia and our allies.
I incorporated the sunrise into the embroidery because it symbolises how the Australian soldiers fought for Australia to be a free country; we wake up every day with the sun rising to remember what they did for us.
In conclusion, World War I was a time of great change, it impacted over 60,000 Australian citizens in a number of different ways. When soldiers came back from the war there were higher divorce rates tearing families apart, an increase in domestic violence and the soldiers who came home suffered from a number of mental health issues, including PTSD, shell shock and Apotemnophilia. After World War I Australia’s society changed vastly as there was more debt for the country and a mass loss of lives for all the countries that were involved. Overall our Australian society was irreversibly changed through and after World War I.
- School: Lavalla Catholic College, Traralgon
- Year of entry: 2017
- Topic: What does the ANZAC Spirit mean today in a diverse and multicultural Australia?
The 25th of April 1915, this is a day forever marked in the hearts of Australians. Remembered as the day sons of this great nation went roaring up the cliffs of Gallipoli. It is the day the ANZAC spirit was brought forth into this world and set to carry on for generations more in many hearts and minds. Despite the mist of terror and the ferocity of war that shrouded the Dardanelles for eight months, both Turkish and Australian soldiers developed a respect for each other as they realised they were all there for the same reasons; love of country, to bring honour to their families and uphold the right. Thus forged there among the shores, cliffs and trenches of what is now Anzac Cove was a spirit like no other. Today this ANZAC spirit lives on, thriving through the actions of all Australians, at home and abroad. No matter what colour their skin or tongue they speak, it is entrenched within them just as it was between the Indigenous, Chinese and European Australians over 100 years ago at Gallipoli. The actions of these men from different races laid the foundation for what is now a multicultural society that thrives globally, it’s citizens united against terror, putting others before themselves and holding on to the mighty ANZAC legacy and spirit.
Today we see a vastly different world and type of warfare than that of the first world war, with the rise of terrorism and supremacy it is no longer nations at war, but sects of societies and opposing ideals. Despite the rapid and vast change in what we now know as war, one thing seems to remain ever the same, the ANZAC spirit. This has been demonstrated on a number of occasions by Australians standing face to face with horrific dangers, as was done for four long days at Lone Pine. This bloody battle saw seven ANZAC’s awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for heroic bravery. This standard of valour was reborn again on June 3rd 2017 in London when South Australian nurse, Kirsty Boden, ran towards danger without a second thought about the risk to her own life. This act showed how “selfless, caring and heroic she was, not only on that night, but throughout all of her life.” This display of bravery that ultimately ended with Boden’s death, has been demonstrated by countless ANZAC soldiers past, in particular VC recipient Corporal Alexander Burton. He, along with two other VC recipients, stood his ground despite being wounded and under heavy bomb attack. This heroism cost him his life as did that of Boden’s and although they were in different theatres and times, both showcase the ANZAC spirit in its entirety.
On the battlefield at the Gallipoli peninsula, great and extraordinary heroism was not the only sign of the ANZAC spirit at work. On the 24th of May 1915, between 7:30am and 4:30pm the cliffs fell silent as an armistice ensued. After three days of negotiations the Turks and ANZACs came to agree that the many thousands of bodies that lay in no-man’s land had to be buried. There were men still laying there a month after the landing and 3,000 Turks laid slain after a major failed assault on the 19th. The armistice saw a strange and unprecedented change on the peninsula, with ANZACs and Turks beginning discussions with one another, sharing cigarettes and exchanging trinkets and gifts. A mutuality existed and a respect for one another flourished. Both sides showed each other dignity, respect and honour as they buried their dead. At that moment, both sides exhibited another aspect of the ANZAC spirit whilst they work side by side. The mutual respect both societies have for each other today carries on long after the revered Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish republic said these words of the ANZACs:
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours … After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
These words are a symbol of true multiculturalism and respect for one’s fellow human, all attributes brought back from Anzac Cove and further entrenched into the hearts and minds of all Australians.
My great, great uncle, Alfred James Bax, proudly served as an ANZAC in the Gallipoli Campaign. After joining the AIF on the 19th of December 1914 (Appendix 1) he, as a member of the 8th Australian Infantry Battalion was part of the second wave at the Gallipoli landing. Throughout his time in Gallipoli, Bax became ill on several occasions with influenza and other sickness (Appendix 2). Throughout the campaign, he was in and out of hospital. Despite his ailing health at times, he continued to serve tirelessly, aided by the strength of those around him allowing him to push on; a brotherhood was formed that ultimately saved many lives.
This bond that Bax had with his comrades in Gallipoli has spilled down through generations, being reborn on every occasion that Australians have left home to serve around the globe. My grandfather, William James Baldwin, served in Korea as a member of the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment. He often spoke of his experience and the bond and mateship he built whilst serving. Right up until his passing, he and three other Korean Veterans met weekly, a sign of the friendship and bond they created that prevailed long after the battle was over. This ANZAC spirit that flowed through them was first born on the shores of Gallipoli, as men like Bax and his fellow soldiers served as one, but it continued in the men that served in every Australian conflict that followed. Subsequently, it now flows on to the next generation, as either by inheritance or observation, they display the great ANZAC spirit each day, whether by the small acts of kindness or grand displays of bravery.
Australians constantly reflect the ANZAC spirit today, whether it be staring down the face of terrorism, putting the lives of others ahead of one’s own, or simply striving to live each day with just a small ounce of the courage and dignity that the ANZAC troops showed all those many years ago. We thrive as a multicultural society, based on the principles of the ANZACs that came before us. No matter our differences in race, religion or creed, today’s Australia is united under the camaraderie and selflessness portrayed by the ANZAC troops long ago.
- National Geographic 2015, ‘,’ National Geographic, retrieved 19 September 2017.
- Kimmorley, S. 2017, '', Business Insider Australia, 20 September 2017.
- Australian War Memorial 2015, ‘,’ retrieved 20 September 2017.
- Tonks, M. 2015, ‘', 20 September 2017.
- McKenna, M. & Ward, S. 2015, ‘,’ The Monthly, 21 September 2017.
- Fierravanti-Wells, C 2015, [speech], retrieved 22 September 2017.
- Australian War Memorial 2015, ‘’, retrieved 22 September 2017.
Kimmorley, S. 2017, ‘’, June 06, Business Insider Australia, [website] retrieved 20 September 2017. This source was used to make a modern-day connection to the Anzac spirit through the new form of warfare that has swept the globe but also exhibit a modern case of an Australian living with the ANZAC spirit.
Australian War Memorial 2015, ‘,’ Australian War Memorial [website], retrieved 22 September 2017. This website was used to further discuss the actions of my Ancestor, Alfred James Bax.
Tonks, M. 2015, ‘’, New Zealand Government, [website] retrieved 20 September 2017. This website enabled me to begin drawing on multiculturalism and its earliest interaction and meaning with the ANZAC spirit.
McKenna, M. and Ward, S. 2015, ‘,’ The Monthly, [website] retrieved 21 September 2017. This source was used to further explore the relationships between Turks and ANZACs at Gallipoli and how they, in times of peace interacted.
Fierravanti-Wells, C. 2015, [speech], retrieved 22 September 2017. This source was used to truly draw on the modern day multiculturalism of the ANZAC spirit here in Australia and abroad as we connected and still connect with the Turkish people.
National Geographic 2015, ‘,’ National Geographic [website], retrieved 19 September 2017. This website was used to better connect a modern day example of the ANZAC spirit back to its inception at Gallipoli and draw on the similarities between two acts, now and then.
Australian War Memorial 2015, ‘,’ Australian War Memorial [website] retrieved 20 September 2017. This website was used to better describe the enormity of heroism and bravery shown by the ANZACs at Gallipoli, in particular the battle of lone pine. It draws on the two major elements that make up the ANZAC spirit.
Anzac.com 2017, ‘,’ Anzac.com [website], retrieved 20 September 2017. This source was used to better understand and reflect the connections between ANZACs and Turks at Gallipoli and how that transcends to today’s society and our multiculturalism.
Short Story Entry
- School: Nagle College, Bairnsdale
- Year of entry: 2017
- Topic: All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal - John Steinbeck
Short Story submission
A moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole,
It does not look likely to stir a man’s soul.
‘Tis the deeds that were done ‘neath the moth-eaten rag
When the pole was a staff and the rag was a flag.
He remembered a time, so long ago it was but a distant memory.
A time when his father’s youthful laughter still filled the halls. When his mother still smiled her bright, comforting smile, dancing in her husband’s arms, and the world did not seem like such a dark and dreary place.
A time of peace, the calm before the storm. A time before the Great War.
It swept across the land in a wave of propaganda and frenzied excitement. This was it, the time for Australia to unite, and for the Australian identity to be forged in the heat of battle. Men from every walk of life: butchers, farmers, teachers, businessmen and athletes, all of them crowded to the enlistment offices. Parades filled the streets, and the public cheered.
But he did not understand. No, he was too young, too untouched by the masked cruelty of the world. Too believing in the feigned innocence presented by society. He did not realise that this torrential wave would bring nothing but pain and devastation. Did not know how it would cleave his family apart.
No, he was too young.
He remembered that final farewell, how brightly his father had smiled. Even with his young eyes, he saw how proudly his father stood, dressed in his shining new uniform of green, a slouched hat upon his head. He saw the tears in his mother’s eyes, but could not see the sadness beneath her front of optimism. He did not know what his father’s hat would come to represent.
He was too focused on his smiling parents to see beyond the public eye, too busy waving farewell with his chubby toddler’s hand to see the bigger picture. He did not see the white feathers, the crushing guilt in the eyes of the men that remained. He was too busy watching his father’s back receding towards the troopship moored in the Port of Melbourne to see beyond the comforting confines of his country life. He did not know he would never see the familiar lines of his father’s face again. He did not know the horrors that his father sailed from Australia to meet.
No, he did not see the truth. He remembered the waiting. Remembered the deafening absence left by his father, despite his mother’s unwavering confidence. He could feel it in every dinner eaten with only two chairs filled, only two places set as if mocking the head of the table left empty. Could feel it in every sock his mother knitted at a furious pace.
He continued to grow, surrounded by the echoes of a distant battle. Echoes that became louder whenever a neighbour received a bike delivered message that brought them to tears, when the town continued to be relieved of its young, healthy men.
No, he did not understand what it meant when that bike came to his own door. Did not understand that his young father would never again feel the sun’s rays upon his face. He did not know that his father would not be returning home. Only when the messenger had departed did he look towards his mother. Only then could he see the shuttering of her eyes, only then did he catch a glimpse of the eddying worry beneath her plastered smile. But he did not know why she sank to her knees, why she continued to stare through her tears at the telegram clutched in her hands.
No, he did not know why his mother had cried. He did not expect the wave to return. The wave that had swept across the nation, the world. The wave of war that had taken his father from him. But return it did, in spite of all the lives lost in the effort to destroy it.
And this time it came for him. When the war was brought to his doorstep, when the propaganda and enlistment officers re-emerged as they had in his childhood, he had answered the call. He remembered the mask of optimism his mother had put up when he told her the news, the same one he had witnessed all those years ago when his father had sailed for distant shores. And in that moment he realised war was not just fought on a physical front line. It was fought in the mind. In the minds of soldiers and civilians, of victims and assailants. An internal struggle of hopelessness and fear. Courage and cowardice. But he had turned from it, set in his decision. He had donned the slouch hat his father had worn with such pride, now a symbol of the spirit of the ANZACs. He had left for war.
Now, on the front lines, he could understand. He could understand why the people left behind at home were plagued with such worry and doubt. He could understand, after seeing his comrades and enemies alike violently cut down by the unforgiving blades of war, how blissful the ignorance of civilian life truly was. He knew now after seeing flesh shredded and bone shattered at the squeeze of a trigger, the pull of a pin, what it must feel like to receive one of those terrible telegrams that veiled the stark truth. That daintily dressed up the utter horror of war with words of sympathy and condolence. He understood now how many families were touched by war, how many brothers, fathers and sons would never return home. An entire generation following in the footsteps of their predecessors, despite the former’s best efforts to ensure they would never have to.
Yes, he knew now why the mothers were crying. He could see the death. The pain and the exhaustion. He could see it everywhere, in every crevice and corner, every tired line carved into the faces of his comrades by the cruel hand of the war. He still wore his uniform with pride, still held his head high whenever that slouched hat rested upon it. But it was pride earned through hardship and suffering. Pride earned through the help of his friends, through their bravery, mateship and trust, in each other and themselves. He was no longer fighting this war for himself, but for the men surrounding him. For the men he had seen cry tears of joy and of sorrow. That he had seen roar with laughter and pain.
He could see now, as he prepared for battle with practised efficiency, how his father had seen the world. How he had been drawn by the allure of adventure into a world of blood and death and fire. But while his father had been brought into a theatre of snow and trench foot, he had been thrown onto a front of mud and malaria. He could see now how much value was wiped off the currency of human life during times of war. How easy it became to ignore the strictest moral bounds maintained during times of peace. How the primal nature of man came to the surface.
Yes, he could see now the truth. He could see the world moving, continuing on as if time itself had slowed to watch the raging battle unfold. As if the whole world was present to witness this display. He could see the bullets; hear the ones that found their targets in his friends. Could feel them as they found their target in him. He thought at that moment of that final farewell, as he had waved to his family from the deck of a ship just as his father had waved to him. Thought of how bright his daughter’s eyes had been, shining like stars in the summer sun as she bid her father goodbye. Thought of that wave of destruction, ebbing and flowing with the tide of peace and war. Thought of how it may one day rise again to claim his daughter’s glowing smile, just as it had claimed his own innocence and his father’s youth. Thought of how that wave seemed unstoppable, inevitable, a vicious cycle as natural as the ocean’s tides, dooming each generation to repeat the same mistakes as their forefathers. A fitting punishment for a species that values violence over advancement, a species whose major developments occur as a result of mass destruction. An irremovable peg on the wheel of time.
He had seen this before. Witnessed it happen to Jap and Aussie alike. He had thought he was prepared, had thought the cold fury of war had matured him enough to face it. But no, he was still too young. Too young to be buried in a shallow grave in the steamy mangroves of Balikpapan, just as his father lay in the cold mud of Bullecourt. Never again to taste the warm Australian air. Never again to smell the eucalyptus of the bush, or see the white-crested waves of the coast. Too young to be subjected to the horrifying, animal nature of man, brought out through the savagery of war. He was too young to see his comrades fall under bullets and shells, too young to shoot down other young men from far-away nations.
He was too young to die.
No, they were all far too young.
We will remember them.
Statement of intent
When you think about it, there’s been one generation after another that’s gone to war; you had fathers and sons in World War I and World War II, quite close together. Then you had uncles and brothers in Malaya and Korea, then sons in Vietnam. Now you’ve got the sons again in Iraq. One generation after another …
Sherrie (widow), quote drawn from ‘Beyond the Call: stories from veterans and their families.
When writing this story, my biggest aim was to demonstrate the continued cycle of war the world goes through, even today. I wanted to unearth how utterly devastating it would have felt to be an Australian, fighting for freedom and peace during World War I, have to watch their own child leave to face the things they were trying to protect them from. With both of my parents having served in the army, the thought of one generation after another going to war felt very real to me. If I had lived only 100 years ago, this story could very nearly have been a reality for me.
It became even more personal when I discovered, through conversations with my Nan, that my great-great-great-uncle, Private William Howden of the 21st Australian Infantry Battalion, had served and died at Bullecourt on the 19th of April 1917. This, as well as the knowledge that my great-grandfather, William Cuttriss, had been one of the Rats of Tobruk and had fought in the Balikpapan ground operation, gave me real-life ancestors that had lived through the generational comings and goings of war.
Much of my research came from existing knowledge and assignments from the history classes I elected to take in the past two years, and also from my participation, as both a reader and the MC, in the Remembrance and Anzac Day ceremonies held by my school every year. I developed a love of the powerful, emotive poems I memorised and read at these ceremonies, including Laurence Binyon’s ‘For the Fallen’ and John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’. These poems, which were filled with such descriptive and powerful words commemorating the lives lost, gave me a new view of Australia’s war history and inspired much of the language I used in my story.
I also included the songs ‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘I was only 19’ in my bibliography because when I was lacking inspiration for my story, I listened to them for ideas. The songs helped me to get on track with my piece.
I used online resources for fact-checking and verification, with the Australian War Memorial website being extremely helpful when I was researching the battles of Balikpapan and Bullecourt. This allowed me to include historically accurate descriptions in my story, whilst the books I read regarding individual soldiers' experiences allowed me to write in a more personal tone.
I chose to write my entry as a short story to enable me to convey the personal experiences of a young Australian in more detail than a poem or song would have allowed me. I wanted to focus heavily on his emotions, and his developing understanding of the cruelty of the world, his transition from innocence to realisation. The short story format also allowed me to incorporate accurate information and facts easily, and also permitted me to smoothly relate the plot back to the topic.
"All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal." Over the time I have spent writing this story, the more I have learnt whilst researching the atrocities of war, the more truth this statement has gained. All of these men and women, all of these young Australians, they all had their youth taken from them. But the cycle doesn’t end with one generation. No, in fact it seems to continue on with no end in sight, as if man forgets at the turn of each decade the horrors their fathers faced in the last war. But the fathers and the mothers do not forget, and can only watch as their children leave to face the threat of humankind. But maybe someday a time will come when young Australians can enjoy their youth, and when parents do not have to hear of their child’s violent death on foreign soils. Maybe a time will come when mankind will not wage war upon itself. But until that day, all we can do is remember the fallen. All we can do is never forget.
Discussions with my family: parents: Darren and Tracey Cuttriss, ex-servicemen in the Australian Defence Force; Nan: Irene Cuttriss.
Through these conversations, I was able to use my parents’ personal ideas and experiences to help add character to my story. It was also through these discussions that I learnt and developed my knowledge of ancestors involved in both World War I and II. I chose to include battles that these relatives had fought in as part of my story: Balikpapan and the Bullecourt, both because of their roles in these campaigns and because these battles were less known than many others, and I wanted to acknowledge that their contribution was just as valid as the men that fought in famous battles such as Gallipoli and Kokoda.
Discussions with Julie Butt-Henley, Nagle College librarian and history enthusiast. Ms Henley was very supportive whilst I was writing my story and offered advice and information from her own research to help with my story.
Figure 1: After Private William Howden’s death, his mother was issued the First World War Mothers’ and Widows’ Badge, with one star on the bottom bar indicating the one son she lost. My Nan showed me the badge whilst telling me the family history.
Sayer-Jones, M. “Beyond the Call: stories from veterans and their families.” Published by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Canberra, 2009. Date Accessed: 11/10/2017.
Binyon, L. “For the Fallen.” Originally published by The Times, 1914. Date Accessed: 11/10/2017.
Scates, B. Wheatley, R. James, L. “World War One: a history in 100 stories.” Published by Penguin Group (Australia), 2015. Date Accessed: 12/10/2017.
“And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda.” Song written by Eric Bogle, 1971. Date Accessed: 12/10/2017
“I Was Only 19.” Song written by Redgum, 1983. Date Accessed: 12/10/17.
Tibbits, C. (03/04/20017). “The Battles for Bullecourt.” Published by the Australian War Memorial. Treloar Crescent, Campbell ACT, 2612, Australia. Date Accessed: 14/10/2017
- School: Mercy Regional College
- Year of entry: 2017
- Topic: What impact did World War I have on Australian Society?
Statement of intent
The research was conducted using a number of sources both digital and written. I visited the Lorne Information Centre and picked up a number of small booklets and brochures. I then incorporated the information into my film.
Why was this format chosen?
This format was chosen because a video presentation would be appealing to a younger demographic because everyone can relate to a Lego man, regardless of age.
How does this format relate to the research and the topic?
This format relates to the topic because I think that a video presentation will help to show what happened in the soldiers' lives and how that impacted on the construction of the Great Ocean Road.
What are the conclusions on the topic?
Society was, and still is, impacted by the construction of the Great Ocean Road. It brings in $1.9 billion to the economy. The Great Ocean Road also contains some of the most picture-perfect scenery in Australia. One of the most iconic Australian landmarks, the Twelve Apostles is located on the road. This legacy of the returned WWI soldiers in building the Great Ocean Road has had an enduring impact on Australia.
Tourism Victoria market profile Great Ocean Road year ending December 2014, Lorne Visitor Centre 26/9/2017
Reviewed 30 October 2019