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About Us - Our Beginnings


In Brief

The National Servicemen's Association of Australia was founded in 1987 and now is the second largest ex-service organisation in the nation.


Our Membership

It represents the 287,000 young men called up for service in the Navy, Army and Air Force in two schemes between 1951 and 1972.

Of them, 212 died on active service - two in Borneo and 210 in Vietnam.


Our Objectives

The Association's objectives are to promote the health and welfare of National Servicemen; to represent National Servicemen to Government, the community and the media; to record the history of National Service and its role in Australia's defence effort; to provide a National Servicemen's perspective on defence and community issues; to build and maintain Memorials to National Servicemen who died on active service and those who have died since; to participate in community, Armed Services and NSAA commemorations and parades; to promote educational programs about National Service in schools and in the community and to promote social interaction between National Servicemen and with the wider defence general communities.

The Association's welfare programs include visits to sick members; information on issues such as health and welfare benefits; information about retirement homes, financial planning and funerals; general information through publications such as 'Nashos News' on issues of interest to National Servicemen and promotion of a wide range of social activities.


The Call Up

In times when Australia has been threatened directly or indirectly and voluntary recruiting has proven insufficient, the Government has used conscription to fill the Armed Forces.

National Service reinstated conscription in two schemes between 1951 and 1972.  The first between 1951 and 1959 was because of the Korean War and the second between 1965 and 1972 for the wars in Borneo and Vietnam.

In the first scheme, Navy and Air Force National Servicemen aged 18 did six months full time training.  Army National Servicemen did three months full time and then the balance part time in the Citizens Military Forces.  Had the Korean war continued, Corps training would have followed.  These National Servicemen remained in their respective Reserves for another five years.  The 227,000 called up were intended to form the 3rd AIF but hostilities ceased and they were not needed.

In the second scheme, the call up was at age 20 for the Army only for two years full time service for Confrontation with Indonesia in Borneo and the war in Vietnam.  Only a small percentage of those liable for call up were selected in a birthday ballot.  A total of 64,000 were called up, of whom 19,500 served in Borneo and Vietnam and the remainder in support units in Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Australia.  Another 35,000 served for six years in the CMF in an alternative scheme.

The Association

Vietnam was a war that divided the Australian nation and some sections of the community reviled and abused Diggers in uniform, including National Servicemen.  On top of that, those who had served in Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, although giving up two years of their lives, were not eligible for the repatriation benefits available to active servicemen.  The late Barry Vicary (pictured left) founded the National Servicemen's Association in Toowoomba on November 28, 1987 to seek a better deal for these Nashos.  Later, he widened the Association to include the 1950's call up.



Amongst his objectives was a medal recognising the contribution National Service made to Australia's defences for three decades.  In 2001, the Australian Government awarded the Anniversary of National Service 1951-1972 Medal and in 2006, National Servicemen were included in the award of the Australian Defence Medal.

In 2006, the Australian War Memorial provided a site at the right hand side of its main entrance for the National Service Memorial.  The Memorial, a fountain, set in its own garden, honours the 212 National Servicemen who died on active service, and was dedicated on September 8, 2010.


Allen Callaghan