ANZAC in Contemporary Australia

Gathering Information

Read the following interview (debate) with two historians about the creation and accuracy of the ANZAC Legend. You may decide to role-play the interview in your group, with different members taking turns reading the lines.  

The making of the Anzac Myth (Lateline, ABC)

  1. Using a Plus, Minus and Interesting Chart, identify and list the arguments which support the claims embodied in the ANZAC legend (Plus) and those that do not (Minus)  
  2. After engaging with the interview, record your feeling about which side of the debate might be more convincing.  

Analysing Information

  1. Complete the table detailing the evidence the historians cite to assist their respective arguments.  
  2. In a separate column in the table, next to each item of evidence, record how you would: a) verify the evidence; and b) challenge the evidence   
  3. In a Think, Pair and Share exercise, record some of the questions you might have for the participants  
  4. Using those questions and your assessment of the evidence, write a 300-word critique of the interview, suggesting why you think the interview might have ended inconclusively, and why your questions might have aided the debate.  

Working with your findings

ANZAC Legend in the Dock

Charge: ANZAC Legend Charged with Concealment  

A national identity might emphasise events, traits or characteristics that have a basis in history, but which may obscure or exclude other events, characteristics or traits that are irreconcilable with those it chooses to emphasise. It might celebrate certain things and ignore others. The ANZAC legend, for example, might be one set of traits Australians draw on for inspiration, but some might argue that it doesn’t represent everyone, as for one, it excludes women and their contribution to the nation, even in war.  


Your task is to read the articles below and view the television footage, and to come to a conclusion about whether or not the legend of ANZAC has concealed more than it reveals about history, and whether it can be reconciled with the diversity and aspirations of contemporary Australian society. In other words, is it accurate and relevant, and does this matter?

One way to carry out this task is to role-play the proceedings of a court of law, in which half the class provides a bench of judges as well as a jury, while the other half provides the counsel for the defence and prosecution, along with expert witnesses. Your teacher could assist in organising this whole-of-class activity for the ANZAC Legend in the Dock - Role-play.

The Evidence

Survey the following articles on the debate about the ANZAC legend, and divide up the responsibilities of the class for this activity according to the outline of the role-play below.  


For the teacher | Background | Introductory activity | The origins of the First World War | Convincing Australians | Forging an identity | The conscription debate | ANZAC in contemporary Australia