They’ve been described as some of Australia’s most ‘sacred places’ and can be found in cities and towns around the country. From small, modest memorial plaques and honour rolls to grand museums and monuments, war memorials were erected to mark Australia’s participation in the First World War and commemorate those who had died.
These memorials became places where communities could come to mourn the loss of loved ones fallen in foreign fields far from home, and to honour the service of those who had returned.
Today, memorials across Australia bear testament to the costs of war, and reveal deep community connections to conflicts and peacekeeping operations from the Boer War to Afghanistan.
War memorials in your local area
Different types of war memorials can be found across most Australian towns. Each of these are a form of commemoration and have strong and deep connections to the town's past and present. Discovering your local war memorial and what it represents can bring an greater understanding of their significance to students.
Places of Pride is the National Register of War Memorials. It is a community driven website where members of the public can add their local war memorial.
Does the Australian War Memorial maintain your local memorial?
The custodianship of and responsibility for local memorials in Australia varies greatly across the different state and territories.
The function of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, as described in the Australian War Memorial Act 1980, is to develop and maintain a national memorial for all Australians sited in Canberra, the nation's capital. The Memorial does not maintain or fund other memorials around Australia.
Saluting their service commemorative grants program managed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, provides funding to preserve Australia's wartime heritage and to involve people throughout the nation in a wide range of projects and activities.
How to get involved at school or at home
To contribute to Places of Pride you will need to create an account. Visit our Help and User Guide page to get started. Please ensure you have the necessary permission and consent forms completed before any photographs of students are submitted to the website.
Visit the Australian War Memorial’s Education page What is a memorial?
- Discuss what happens in your town, city, or school on Remembrance Day or Anzac Day
Visit the Australian War Memorial’s Education page Symbols and ceremonies
- Visit Places of Pride and see if your town has a memorial on the map
- If you can’t see your local memorial, you might like to visit it and take a photo to upload to Places of Pride.
Visit the Glossary page to learn the definitions of the various types of war memorials.
Visit a local war memorial and find information about the:
- location (where and why)
- physical appearance
- events held at the memorial
- people and/or events it commemorates
- reason it is being preserved and its importance
Make a presentation of what you have discovered and upload it to your local memorial’s Places of Pride story page.
Visit the Australian War Memorial's website page The Anzac Day Tradition.
Research some of the different types of memorials on Places of Pride.
- How are they used in commemoration?
- What are they commemorating?
Visit the Australian War Memorial's website page, For our Country – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander memorial.
What other memorials can you find on Places of Pride which commemorate the service of Indigenous Australians?
For more information on the wartime service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, visit:
After the Second World War many of the war memorials built around Australia were buildings such as hospitals, swimming pools, community halls, and even schools.
- Discuss possible reasons for this. Search on Places of Pride to find some of these different types of war memorials.
- Is there one such memorial site in your town or suburb? You might like to visit it and take a photo to upload to Places of Pride.
The Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) was founded in 1916 by returning Australian soldiers from the First World War, to continue to provide the camaraderie, concern, and mateship shown among diggers during the conflict.
This organisation continues to help veterans and their families by offering care and assistance as needed, as well as playing an important role in commemorative activities in communities around Australia.
- If you have an RSL club in your community, ask an adult to take you for a visit. Explore the memorials or Honour Rolls you find there. Take a photo to upload to Places of Pride.
Visit the Australian War Memorial's website page Memorial Box case studies
- Find the stories of a family from your state or territory, and explore their service, and the connections to their story found in the Memorial’s National Collection.
- Locate the name of a person on your local memorial or Honour Board, or perhaps you have a family member or friend who has served. Find out more about this person’s service by exploring the links to relevant information on the Memorial’s website.
Links to the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences - History, Geography, Civics and Citizenship - Foundation to Year 6
Knowledge and Understanding
How they, their family and friends commemorate past events that are important to them (ACHASSK012)
Days and weeks celebrated or commemorated in Australia (including Australia Day, Anzac Day, and National Sorry Day) and the importance of symbols and emblems(ACHASSK064)
The contribution of individuals and groups to the development of Australian society since Federation (ACHASSK137)
The reasons why some places are special to people, and how they can be looked after (ACHASSK017)
How people with shared beliefs and values work together to achieve a civic goal (ACHASSK118)
Inquiry and skills: questioning, researching, analysis, communicating
Locate, compare, select and use information from a range of sources as evidence (ACHHS2100)
Use chronological sequencing to demonstrate the relationship between events and developments in different periods and places (ACHHS164)