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Australia, anti-war movement

Terri Bennett

Subject History » Military History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Oceania » Australasia

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics communism, peace, revolution, war

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00150.x


Organized and sustained anti-war and peace movements occurred in Australia as early as World War I and have persisted with each foreign war in which Australian troops have been involved, including World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the US War in Iraq. During World War I, Australia's early feminists were at the forefront of the movement against the war. Vida Goldstein (1869–1949) and Cecilia John (1877–1955) co-founded branches of a militant anti-war group, the Women's Peace Army, in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. According to Marilyn Lake (1999) , meetings were often opened by John, a celebrated vocalist who sang popular anti-war songs considered so influential in shifting public opinion against the war and hampering recruitment that they were outlawed in the War Precautions Act of 1915. Also formed was the Sisterhood of International Peace, which would later become the Australian chapter of the worldwide (and still active) Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Proponents of feminist pacifism also worked within other organizations with anti-war aims, such as the Australian Freedom League, which most notably fought compulsory conscription and military training, referred to as “military tyranny.” World War II saw similar anti-war movements, although, as in much of the world, peace activists were sometimes split by the complexities of simultaneously opposing ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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