Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Welcome to the 2018 Premier's Anzac Spirit School Prize awardees

To find out about the South Australian Premier's School Spirit School Prize go to the South Australian Government website. The prize has been conducted by the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) in collaboration with the Department for Premier and Cabinet since 2007. During that time 103 students and 25 teachers have been involved in the Premier’s ANZAC Spirit School Prize Tour to France (2007-2012 and 2014), Singapore/South Korea (2013) and Gallipoli (2015) and Vietnam (2016 and 2017). 

In 2018, fifteen students and three teachers will participate in a study tour to Vietnam from 30 September to 13 October. This blog has been developed to support commemoration activities and student learning during the tour. 

Since 2007 it is estimated that over 8000 students have participated in the research competition that forms the basis for the selection of the students to participate in the tour. Winning entries can be viewed on the Veterans SA site. It is also important to note that all 605 entries submitted to the judges since 2007 have been integrated into the South Australian Virtual War Memorial - an initiative with a very close relationship with the Premier’s ANZAC Spirit School Prize initiative.

      Welcome to the following students to this great initiative of the Premier.

We will be posting regularly to the blog over the next few months in preparation for our trip to Vietnam. I am sure the students will set up some form of social media but this is just a way for us to communicate as a group on matters important to us (history background, information etc).

 Getting started

At this early stage we suggest you some backgrounding on the history, geography, culture and travel conditions of Vietnam. Again, nothing too much but it is worthwhile getting an idea of the place and people we are visiting. Here are several useful sites to check out:

     Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War (to the Vietnamese, it is known as the American War)
Do some reading/watching about the cause, nature and events of the Vietnam War 1962-75. In particular, we suggest you focus on the involvement of Australians in the conflict. Check out the War Memorial site and some of the great videos up on YouTube

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Beyond Mel Gibson and Gallipoli!

The 24 February HaSS SA Conference presentation called 
'Beyond Mel Gibson at Gallipoli!'

 The PowerPoint of the HaSS SA workshop presentation.
The workshop explored the potential to teach war and commemoration through historical conceptual thinking using research skills to develop authentic learning in the classroom. Learning about Australia’s involvement in the Great War, World War 2, Korean War and Vietnam War should be more than learning about chronology, battles and statistics. The Australian Curriculum: History provides the opportunity to connect students to the stories and events through conceptual thinking. At the same time the use of research skills to ‘find’ stories is a way to personalise the learning for students. During the workshop the Virtual War Memorial and the Premier’s Anzac Spirit School Prize will be profiled as examples of unique initiatives for students to participate in high quality historical research and to personally engage in learning about war beyond just learning ‘about’ the conflict involved.

Some ideas to get started with researching

* Naturally, visit the RSL Virtual War Memorial site at 
* Ask your family about an older family member or family friend who served or was involved in the conflict.
* Does your school have an Honour Board or Memorial Wall commemorating ex-students? 
* The first step for individuals who died during wartime will probably be to look them up on the Australian War Memorial website where you will find lots of other useful links.  Start by going to ‘Research a person’ at and entering either a name or service number. 
 * Research in your local library or local history museum for any local history accounts of an individual from your area participating in your selected conflict. 
* Visit the War Memorials in your local area to identify the names of locals who participated in your selected conflict. The RSL website links at may help you with this task. 
* Contact your local Returned & Services League (RSL) ( to discuss the Premier’s ANZAC Spirit School Prize task and whether they can help your research.  The RSL is involved in the competition and have communicated details of the competition and study tour to all their branches.  Such personal contact could be invaluable in developing responses. 
* Visit the National Archives of Australia website at for detailed war records of individuals.
* Visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at for details  on overseas war cemeteries and graves.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The learning journey ends for the 2017 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize

Image above: Discussions about the trip at the 2017 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize reception at RSL SA on 1 December, 2017.

The 2017 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize reception 


All good things come to an end and that is the case with the 2017 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize. On Friday 1 December, the final event for  the 2017 prize was conducted in the Memorial Hall of RSL SA. Our special guests were Mr Rick Persse, Chief Executive of the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD), Bronson Horan (RSL SA President), Cheryl Cates (RSL SA Vice President), Jock Statton (Past RSL SA President) and Deonne Smith (DECD Director). 

 Rick Persse, DECD Chief Executive addresses the reception.

  Bronson Horan, RSL SA President presents an RSL medal to Metala Burgess for her prize entry that he had read.

At the reception the students had the opportunity to address the guests with their observations and stories from the tour and reflect on the impact of the prize on their perceptions and considered futures. The students spoke fantastically and did the parents and staff proud!

 2017 Premier's ANZAC Prize students,  Laura Stephens and Josh Loxton addressing the reception.

 Kendal Brown (RSL SA delegate for the trip) and Brenton Meier (teacher chaperone) share their thoughts on the prize.

After the reception the students, staff and parents had the opportunity to have one last Vietnamese meal together at the Ho Tho City Restaurant in Hindmarsh - an absolute treat to finish our time together.

All smiles at a meal back in Ho Chi Minh City.

All the best to the students and staff involved in this years trip -  thanks for all the memories of a great time together.

Now for planning the 2018 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize that was launched on 11 November 2017. Stay tuned!

The 2018 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize poster

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Every step of the way on the trip I could feel my soldiers with me

Image above: A scene on the track up to the site of the US base called Camp Carroll.

A journal extract from 2017 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize student Abbie Nourse about the hike up to Camp Carroll in the heat and tropical rain.

Thank you Frederick John Schenscher and Errol Wayne Noack for being a major part in my journey

Finding a favourite photograph of my adventures on the 2017 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize Vietnam Study Tour is near impossible to find, especially on my first overseas trip. Every photograph I took on this trip has meaning and a special significance to either the country of Vietnam or my travelling experiences in Vietnam. Every part of Vietnam is different in its own kind of way and every day I learnt and found something new either about myself as a person or the country of Vietnam. I could go on all day long about our travels and adventures in Vietnam but that would be like reading a very long essay and then I reckon it could turn into a novel.
I chose this picture as my significant/ favourite photograph because I believe it captures the culture and meaning of Vietnam and especially holds unforgettable memories. This photograph I took was of a local Vietnamese villager/ farmer whilst walking up to Camp Carroll to the site of the old US base. After 3kms up a steep hill we finally found the memorial to the base! After I was nearly taken out by the massive load of leaves this woman was manually carting down the hill, I quickly snapped the photograph which I consider as a significant memorable photograph.
Walking up the hill of Camp Carroll is something that I will never forget and I believe it made the trip more memorable and meaningful by experiencing all types of weather conditions that the servicemen and women would have endured during the Vietnam War.
As we walked up to Camp Carroll I felt like giving up as this hill seemed never ending with the odds of finding the memorial against us, but then I began to think about both my two South Australian servicemen I had researched for the 2017 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize. I thought about our Australian soldiers walking in these weather conditions in Vietnam, a country so climatically and culturally different to their country and hometown of Australia. They would have felt just as homesick as I did but at least I knew that we were hiking to find a US memorial unlike them who were commanded to hike to some province unknown to them, a place they would have never heard of.

My perspective on life has changed since this trip; I now look at everything in life with a new and different perspective. I am so lucky to have experienced such a life changing adventure with incredible passionate students and mentors. I never knew a group of Aussie tourists and passionate historians would be so popular to the Vietnamese locals!

Vietnam has so much culture and history, each city we went to was always different from the last. Vietnam is full of depth, pain, happiness, laughing yoga, exercise craziness, French heritage and architecture and hidden Chinese treasures. We also met gorgeous, grateful and happy little orphanage and school children who light up your day with sunshine despite the threatening storm clouds and the incredible but peaceful huge limestone rocks at Ha Long Bay and Marble Mountain. I cannot imagine what this country would have looked like during the Vietnam War.
I feel so privileged and honoured to have researched two incredibly fascinating servicemen. Every step of the way on the trip I could feel my soldiers with me and not on one day did I forget about them. Thank you Frederick John Schenscher and Errol Wayne Noack for being a major part in my journey this year. This has been a life changing experience and I am so thankful for being selected as an awardee.