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Leave uranium in the ground.  [circa 1980]
Leave uranium in the ground [circa 1980], nla.cat-vn7127347.

Commons Library

Need more information?  Visit The Commons Library online collection.

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Anti-war protests began to gain momentum during the Vietnam War, and have since made up a major part of political protest. While there are numerous different anti-war movements, this section will focus on what the Library has material to provide information on. Below you will find information about the Nuclear Disarmament movement, protests against the Vietnam War, and protests against the Iraq War.

Nuclear Disarmament Movement 

Nuclear disarmament in Australia only began to gain traction from around 1970, with small scale protests occurring from 1963. It was only after France began nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1972 that more widespread concern was expressed from the Australian public. The 1976 protests against uranium mining in central Australia saw the movement gain in popularity. Seven thousand people marched in cities across Australia, with protests continuing well in the 1980s.

The National Library has a large collection of material from a number of nuclear disarmament protests and holds a large collection of posters and photographs. There is also strong coverage in the digitised newspapers, magazines and journals available in Trove.

For example, the Library holds the Records of the People for Nuclear Disarmament, with documents relating to the organisation of the Palm Sunday rally, as well as correspondence, minutes, subject files, financial papers, and other printed material. Additionally, the Library also holds ephemera material from the Nuclear Disarmament Party and songbooks from the anti-uranium mining protests.

The Library cannot deliver much of the material from this era online because it is still in copyright, although it may be able to be supplied through our Copies Direct service and can be viewed onsite. A good example is the image that launched a million protests – a colour poster featuring the image of a mushroom cloud above a small island with palm trees and sea in the distance.

 Here are some search terms that you might use in our Catalogue or Trove.

  • Nuclear Disarmament Protest Australia
  • Nuclear Disarmament movement Australia
  • Uranium mining protests
  • Uranium Mining Ban

In addition to looking at resources more broadly classified under Nuclear disarmament -- Australia, there is some wonderful, visual material found under Nuclear disarmament -- Australia -- Posters.

Protests against Iraq War

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Labor M.P. and Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge (6th from right) is part of the head of the march for "No war" on George Street in Sydney on the day the bombs started in Iraq
Labor M.P. and Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge (6th from right) is part of the head of the march for "No war" on George Street in Sydney on the day the bombs started in Iraq [picture] / Wendy McDougall, nla.obj-147367474.

On the 20th March 2003, United States forces and their allies went to war with Iraq with the goal of capturing Saddam Hussein and destroying any weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). In response to the announcement from the United States Government, many Australians took to the streets in protest of the war and the government’s support of it.

The National Library has a collected many materials over the year relating to the protest against the Iraq War. Interesting items in our collection include photographs of the various protests and webpage snapshots in the Australian Web Archive.

For example, the Library holds the Wendy McDougall photo collection, which contains photos of the Iraq War protests held across Australia. This material provides a great insight into how widespread opposition to the Iraq War was by the Australian public.

Additionally, the Library also holds the Iraq War, 2003: ephemera material collection. This collection holds protest materials such as advertising material, booklets, brochures, posters, programs, and stickers.

Here are some search terms that you might use in our Catalogue or Trove:

  • Iraq War protest
  • Iraq War Australia
  • Invasion of Iraq protests

Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Protest movements -- Australian Capital Territory -- Canberra -- Photographs

Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Protest movements -- New South Wales -- Sydney -- Photographs

Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Protest movements -- South Australia

Peace movements -- Australia

Peace movements -- Australia -- Posters

Peace movements -- Australian Capital Territory -- Canberra -- Photographs

Protest against the Vietnam War

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Vietnam moratorium protest on the steps of the Victorian Parliament Building, Melbourne, Victoria, ca. 1971
Vietnam moratorium protest on the steps of the Victorian Parliament Building, Melbourne, Victoria, ca. 1971 [picture] / Andrew Chapman, nla.obj-147454180.

The Vietnam War was the first war to be televised and broadcast back to Australians, sparking widespread protest and sit-ins across the nation.

The National Library holds a substantial amount of collection material relating to the Vietnam War, with a large ephemera collection and pictures material. For example, we hold the Vietnam War and anti-Vietnam War movements in Australia: ephemera material in the Riley Collection. This collection holds everyday materials such as advertising material, area guides, booklets, brochures, samples of merchandise postcards, posters, programs, stickers and tickets. We also hold two different collections of Vietnam War protest posters, with both collections available to view online on Trove.

Here are some search terms that you might use in our Catalogue or Trove:

  • Vietnam War Australia
  • Anti-Vietnam War
  • Australian-Vietnam protest 1965
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[Collection of Vietnam War posters]
[Collection of Vietnam War posters] [picture], nla.obj-2835439086/view

Further Reading

Want to learn more about the Vietnam War? See our Digital Classroom module on Dissent in Society.

Need more material? Visit the State Library of South Australia’s Vietnam research guide.