Dr Christina Twomey

Frederick Watson Fellow 2009

Topic: A history of the National Service Scheme in Australia from 1964 to 1972

Biographical note

Dr Twomey is a senior lecturer in history at Monash University in Melbourne.

Outcome

The focus of Dr Christina Twomey's research for the Frederick Watson Fellowship is a history of the National Service Scheme in Australia. Between 1964 and 1972 more than 800,000 men registered for national service, a scheme that became known colloquially as 'nasho'. The notorious 'birthday ballot' determined which among these 20-year-olds would be called up. Almost 64,000 went on to serve in the Army, more than 3500 won exemptions and nearly 100,000 young men were rejected after failing to meet the Army's standards.

The National Service Scheme records – including hundreds of thousands of registration files – are held by the National Archives. This project focuses on how Australian men and their families negotiated the requirements of the scheme, presented their views about conscription, and debated its implications. It shifts attention away from the relatively well-known figure of the draft resister by examining the alternative histories of Australian responses to conscription that lie buried in the archive.

Histories of Australia's participation in the Vietnam War have focused on the experience of service personnel in Vietnam and the anti-war movement within Australia. Dr Twomey undertook a detailed examination of an important domestic context in which the commitment to Vietnam occurred. The research makes an important contribution to the histories of Australian attitudes to war, democracy and the power of the state. 

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017