Winning entries – Special Category

2018 national winners at the presentation ceremony, Parliament House, Canberra

We sponsor the National History Challenge for students from Year 9 to 12. Entrants must use records from our collection to develop their essays.

Turning Points (2018)

2018 National Winner: Olivia Nolan, Year 10, St Mary's Anglican Girls School, Western Australia

Essay: Olivia Nolan: The Beginning of the End of White Australia (pdf, 766kb)

In her essay Olivia explores how Annie O'Keefe's successful challenge against deportation marks a turning point because it ignited popular support against prevailing immigration policy. Drawing on original documents from the National Archives' collection and other sources Olivia argues that O'Keefe is a protagonist for the abolition of the White Australia Policy and the creation of multicultural Australia.

Making a better world? (2017)

Winner: Olivia Nolan, Year 9, St Mary's Anglican Girls School, Western Australia

Essay: Olivia Nolan: Charles Perkins – Australia’s Martin Luther King (pdf, 1632kb)

Olivia Nolan's use of a wide range of archival records and other primary sources provides insight into the life and achievements of Charles Perkins. Olivia's appropriately chosen sources highlight how Perkins' peaceful protests, controversial commentary and fearless campaigning changed the course of Aboriginal affairs in Australia.

Triumph or Tragedy? (2016)

Winner: Beatrice Thurston-Regan, Year 9, Taroona High School, Tasmania

Video: The Franklin River Dam Proposal 1978-1983 (pdf, 65kb)

Beatrice has used a range of images, moving footage and documents in her video to explore the case of the Franklin Dam. She investigates how the campaign of the Tasmania Wilderness Society, against the damming of the Franklin River for hydro-electricity, 'saved a place of natural beauty' and was 'a triumph of people power and an environmental revolution'.

Leadership and Legacy (2015)

Winner: Phoebe Blaxill, Year 9, St Mary's Anglican Girls' School, Western Australia
Essay: Flynn of the Inland (pdf, 2.3mb)

Phoebe wrote a detailed essay on the life and work of the Very Reverend John Flynn, OBE, DD. Her bibliographical work used an array of primary and archival sources diligently and valuably to create an excellent entry.

Changing Perspectives (2014)

Winner: Rachel Li, Year 10, Pymble Ladies' College, New South Wales
Essay: Multiculturalism – becoming part of Australia's identity (docx, 119kb)

Rachel has conducted an investigation, with appropriately chosen sources to develop and support her argument regarding the changing perspective of the government towards migrants and migration. She has written a clear, concise and logically structured essay that synthesises the range of arguments.

Legends, Fact and History (2013)

There was no national winner in this special category in 2013.

People and consequences (2012)

Winner: Sarsha Crawley, Year 10, East Doncaster Secondary College, VIC
Essay: Louisa Lawson: Matriarch of Australian Feminism. The story of how Australian women achieved the vote. (Pdf, 324kb)

Using an extensive range of primary sources Sarsha demonstrates a deep understanding of Louisa Lawson’s impact on the campaign for the enfranchisement of women in Australia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Defining moments (2011)

There was no national winner in this special category in 2011.

Celebrations, memories and history (2010)

Winner: Alice Han, Year 11, Pymble Ladies' College, NSW
Essay: Celebrating and remembering: the special relationship (pdf, 285.6kb)

In her essay, Alice argues successfully for the significance of Gough Whitlam's visit to China in 1971. Alice uses a wide range of authoritative sources, including those from the National Archives which relate to Australia's growing relationship with China.

Triumph over adversity (2009)

Winner: Alix Biggs, Year 9, Canberra Girls' Grammar School, ACT
Essay: Triumph over adversity: the obstacles overcome by Australia's Japanese war brides (pdf, 69.5kb)

Alix visited the National Archives’ reading room in Canberra during the 2009 July school holidays to view original records, ‘The amazing thing was that no one had actually touched these records before me because they had only been declassified in 2005’. Alix demonstrates the tensions that existed between the government, the public and the families of Japanese war brides in Australia after 1945. Alix was also the 2009 National History Challenge Young Historian of the Year.

Australia meets the World (2008)

Joint winner: Christopher Boon, Year 9–10, Taroona High School, TAS
Essay: The legacy of Benjamin Dunkerley (pdf, 53kb)

Christopher Boon's use of a wide range of archival records and other primary sources provides a fascinating insight into the life and achievements of Benjamin Dunkerley, creator of the Akubra hat. Christopher was also named 2008 Tasmanian Young Historian. 

Joint winner: Emily Mettrick, Year 11–12, Camberwell Grammar School, VIC
Essay: The social benefits for Australia originating from the Gallipoli campaign (pdf, 507kb)

Emily Mettrick's essay explores the idea that the origins of Australian pride and identity stem from the tragic Gallipoli campaign of World War I. The judges praised Emily's high level of personal engagement with the archival sources and her ability to integrate them into her argument.

Turning points (2006)

Winner: Emily Read, Year 10, Clarence High School, TAS
Essay: Turning points (pdf, 133kb)

Emily's essay explores the stories of two migrant families and the effects on their lives of leaving their homeland. Drawing on original documents from the National Archives' collection and other sources, Emily demonstrates how significant such a ‘turning point’ is for migrants.

Australians all (2005)

Senior winner: Aithne Dell, Year 9, Santa Maria College, WA
Essay: Marcel Jean Dell – from Dutch sailor to Australian engineer (pdf, 68kb)

Aithne's research about her Opa, or grandfather, tells a personal story of a sailor and migrant who escaped Nazi occupied Holland. The essay provides insight into the history of Dutch migration to Australia in the aftermath of World War II.

Junior winner: Naomi Tucker, Year 8, Xavier College, SA
Essay: The lives of the Sturt Street kids (pdf, 61kb)

In this personal account of her grandfather’s childhood Naomi paints a word picture of suburban life in the 1930s and 1940s. She links to the theme ‘Australians all’ by discussing cultural diversity and how in difficult times a community pulls together for survival.

Celebrations in Australian history (2004)

Senior winner: Tahlia Hennessy, Lake Joondalup Baptist College, WA
Essay: The Vietnam War (pdf, 716kb)

Tahlia's essay highlights the conflicting attitudes that polarised public opinion during the Vietnam War – those of the servicemen whose contribution was never celebrated or acknowledged, and the peace activists who maintained there was nothing to celebrate about war.

Junior winner: Georgina Fox, Year 7, Melbourne Girls Grammar, VIC
Essay: Long may the drummer boy play: a history of Sergeant Frederick Clarence Walker (pdf, 1.8mb)

Georgina’s research took her on a journey of discovery which culminated in a celebration of the life of the grandfather she never knew. A talented musician who played drums in his battalion band during World War II, Fred Walker was a popular, happy-go-lucky man. But his experience of jungle warfare in New Guinea would have a devastating impact on him and on his family.

Conflicts and resolutions (2003)

Winner: Nicola Connell, Year 10, St Francis Xavier College, ACT
Essay: Conflicts and resolutions arising from the Petrov defections (pdf, 93kb)

The 1954 defection of Soviet embassy employees Vladimir and Evodokia Petrov was the most sensational espionage incident to occur in Australia during the Cold War. In her essay Nicola examines the impact on society and government of what came to be known as the Petrov Affair.

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