A Nation Divided: the Great War and Conscription

Community Event

6 Dec 2017 to 31 Dec 2019

The debate over conscription during the darkest years of the Great War has been described by some historians as the most bitter, divisive and violent ever to consume the nation. From 1916-1917 thousands of impassioned speeches were made, endless newspaper columns written, mass meetings and huge rallies were held throughout Australia. As families, communities and organisations divided in bitter recrimination, it seemed as if the soul of the grieving nation would tear itself apart.

This exhibition at the Old Treasury Building tells the story of this extraordinary period in our history. It is a tale of political intrigue, industrial turmoil, civil unrest and a lurid propaganda war. But it is also a story of passionate idealists, who faced down government repression in pursuit of their beliefs. In the end, it is the story of the triumph of democracy amidst the most testing circumstances ever experienced in Australia.

Supported by the Victorian Government as part of the Anzac Centenary, 2014-2018.


Disabled access available Public Toilet Wheelchair access


Free Entry

Event Times

6 Dec 2017 to 31 Dec 2019

Daily Event


Old Treasury Building

20 Spring Street, East Melbourne, 3002

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