Why did Australia become involved in the Vietnam War?
Australia first came involved in the Vietnam conflict in 1962 when the Australian Government sent a team of thirty army advisers to help train the South Vietnamese Army for its fight against the NLF guerrillas. At the same time a squadron of Royal Australian Air Force fighters were sent to nearby Thailand. While the alliance with the USA was becoming increasingly important, Australia still had strong ties with Britian. In January 1965, Australia sent an army of battalion to help Britain denfend newly independent Malaysia against border raids by Indonesia. Only three months later the Australian Prime Minister Menzies announced the commitment of another battalion to help the USA in South Vietnam.
To the surprise of its opponents, the Menzies Government announced in November 1964 that it was introducing military conscription. At the time, the major concern was Indonesia, but in 1965 that threat declined and the Australian Governement became increasingly concerned about Vietnam.
Menzies announcement of the descision to send an Australian battalion to Vietnam was made a federal parliament on 29 April 1965. Early in April the Australian Government had told the USA of its willingness to send troops. Menzies represented the decision as one that would make Australia more secure against the threat of communism by strengthening its alliance with the USA.
In 1965 the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) was stationed at Bien Hoa. a large US base near Saigon.
How did various groups respond to Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War?
The late 1960s and early 1970s were times of change, when protest movements arose on a scale that had never been seen in Australia. Among the causes taken up by demonstrators were racial equality, equal rights for women and environmental protection. The protest campaigns in Australia were expressions of waves of dissent affecting much of the developed world. The issue that first brought many people together was opposition to the Vietnam War. The anti-war protest movement is often seen as a conflict between generations, but it was much more complex than that. Protesters belonged to several age groups, social classes, religions and Political persuasions.
Until the late 1960s, the majority of Australians supported sending troops to the war. Most Australians knew little about the historical roots of the conflict. Those who protested against the war saw it very differently. Despite the widely differing political and religious beliefs.
The first protests in Australia against the Vietnam War and conscription were small and non- violent and organised largely by established anti-war movements. The protesters were a likely to be middle-aged and middle-class as young and radical. Australians were divided on the issue. Some church leaders supported the government. Others, like the Reverend Allan Walker of the Methodist Central Mission in Sydney, became...