The Human Lottery

Investigating the National Service (conscription) system in the Vietnam War

Australians fought in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1973.

The Vietnam War was a very divisive war. People were sent to jail for protesting, or for not registering for the system of National Service (conscription) which was introduced to provide troops for the war, or for ‘draft dodging’ – having been called up for service, refusing to go.

Many students' parents, grandparents and their friends were part of this war – either as soldiers, or more probably as part of the Home Front during the war.

This activity focuses on a key issue for students’ understanding of the support and opposition to the Vietnam War: the nature of the National Service (conscription) system.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of this activity students will be better able to:

  • describe and explain a significant event in Australian history that has contributed to national identity;
  • critically analyse an aspect of change over time; empathise with people in their own time;
  • evaluate the consequences for people of a change to a significant law;
  • critically analyse the working of the democratic process in a controversial area of human rights – conscription;
  • discuss the rights and responsibilities of governments and individuals in areas where there is significant dissent.

The activity

The student learning outcomes are achieved by the completion of three paper-based investigations, each provided as a single, downloadable and printable Adobe Acrobat™ file.

The investigations

Go to Acrobat Download TipsLinks from the following list of investigations permit download of Acrobat™ files (one file per investigation). Once downloaded, the files can be printed as required. It is also possible to save the files directly to disk for viewing and printing when required.


Investigation 1 Forming hypotheses about the conscription system. (2 pages, 96kb)


Investigation 2 What is conscription? (2 pages, 32kb)


Investigation 3 How did the system of National Service during the Vietnam War work? Was it a fair and equitable system? (4 pages, 63kb)