Account for the growing opposition to the Vietnam War on the Australian home front.
(Give reasons and describe the people protesting against the Vietnam War in Australia at the time)
During the Vietnam War, conscription played a key role in the anti-war movement on the Australian home front. Other major features deterring support for the war included the use of television to broadcast the War’s atrocities including the My Lai Massacre, which displayed horrific images of dead Vietnamese children, their mothers and fathers. This impacted Australians severely sparking national debate between the anti-war activists and politicians in power. The majority of the public wanted to avoid a war where their sons and brothers were at risk of dying. This debate caused nationwide protests and changes which occurred in the streets of major cities and altered politicians’ campaigns relating to the war.
Between May 1962, when the Menzies government decided it would send military instructors to Vietnam, and April 1965, when it announced that combat troops would be sent there too, very little opposition was expressed within Australia to its participation in the war. The only groups that were opposing this decision were the Communist Party of Australia and the established peace groups. Within three years, a massive increase of support for the peace groups has grown – not only size by diversity as well. The Peace movement in Australia originated through left-wing trade unions and rapidly developed into movement with a much wider range of supporters in terms of their age, sex, occupation and political affiliation. The movement started to include more and more young people – especially university students as well as more middle-class people, women and more of the Australian Labour Party (ALP). The anti-war movement was not a tightly organised operation and street demonstrations were never held between three or more peace parties as a result of their poor communication. In 1966, the Federal election was held and the ALP only won 40% of the vote and only 41 out of the 124 seats in the House of Representatives. (Book on the Anti-war movement against Vietnam) After this incident, the ALP shied away from the issue of Vietnam and the peace movement itself. The Peace movement was now in danger of losing its most powerful ally. However, more and more university students were protesting in the streets, burning their national service papers and participating in anti-war events. Rowan Cahill experienced this first-hand as he was one of those ‘disobedient’ Uni students. At the time, Cahill was a 20-year-old university student whose birth date had been randomly chosen from a barrel and had received his conscription papers. He stated that he was just a ‘voteless young person that saw something wrong with (the Vietnam War) this war.’ He then goes on to say ‘I was a rebel waiting to happen. Idealism at the time was in the air.’ Rowan Cahill and many others like him were branded as...