Australia in the Vietnam War Era

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Australia in the Vietnam War Era

Task: Explain the impact of the Vietnam War in Australian Society. INTRODUCTION
Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War impacted society in a variety of ways. Today we still deal with repercussions related directly to the Vietnam War. The War took place between 1959 and 1975, and Australia was directly involved between August 1962- June 1973. It was the longest war Australia was ever involved in and probably the most controversial. Our main purpose in the war was to fight communism as part of a treaty to stop the growth of communism within Asia and Europe. This report discusses the fundamental impacts of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam and the impact it had on Australian society including attitudes towards Asia and communism, division and dissent within Australian society and the effects of the war on Australia’s War veterans. ATTITUDES TOWARDS ASIA AND COMMUNISM

Attitudes towards both Asia and communism were different for every individual. However, the majority of Australians were against communism. They liked their way of government and their lifestyles and they wanted to stay the way they were, as a democracy. They where keen to eliminate communism in Asian countries. They saw having such close connections with Asia geographically as a threat and that by not fighting communism; they were allowing it to play out in their backyards. The main theory was that if we didn’t fight communism, the domino theory would play out and Australia would be at risk from communist attacks. With the initial support of the Australian community, the Australian government approved the decision of South Vietnam to defend itself against communist insurgency and infiltration and added support in the form of an 800 man army. Australia felt the need to protect its legacy as a free country. However, Australia’s attitudes began to change as the war was seen like no war had been seen before, it entered the living rooms of Australian citizens, with horrifying images making people question their judgment and whether our involvement in the war was really worth it.

A good example of the attitudes towards communism is the image of ‘The Red Menace’(refer to page 4) which is a perfect example of communist propaganda, as there was a big fear of communism spreading to Australia. The Vietnam War was a final product of 15 years worth of debate over foreign policy, and Australia had already showed its urgency to fight communism by going to Korea. The image was an advertisement aimed at gaining support for the coming war in Vietnam. The picture depicts communism as “the red menace” making it clear who the enemy was. The phrase caught on and fighting communism was often referred to as ‘the red menace’. News paper articles can be seen in the background with headings about communism; this showed people just how much communism affects the world and how if nothing is done it would soon begin to affect them. It was backed by the Menzies government and was aimed at appealing to the Australian public. The poster does its best to illuminate the threat of communism.

The decision to send troops to Vietnam by the Menzies government caused much division within in Australian society. A first the majority of people supported were for the introduction of troops in Vietnam, but then numbers started to slowly decline. The press, with the exception of ‘The Australian’ supported the Liberal Government’s decision to send troops to Vietnam. However, it wasn’t the usual pre-war situation, newspaper articles, although not doubting the decision, suggested that Australia had been forced into the war and that it was an ‘inevitable outcome.’ It was suggested that given a strong fear of the domino effect, Australia had no option but to supply South Vietnam with troops. The press did give a fair analysis of Labours opinion on the situation and said that Labour’s response to the...
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