National History Challenge

Sir Robert Gordon MenziesThe National History Challenge is a research-based competition for primary and secondary school students.  It emphasises and rewards quality research, the use of community resources and effective presentation. 

The National History Challenge 2017 Theme is Making a better world?

The Menzies Foundation sponsors a Special Category in the Challenge to encourage school students to investigate the legacy of Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies.  The Foundation is a non-political, not-for-profit organisation promoting excellence in health research, scholarship and postgraduate study by Australians.

The History Teachers’ Association of Australia organises and runs the NHC supported by the Australian Government Department of Education.

Special Category: Robert Menzies and today’s Australia

Was Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister successful in helping to create a better world?  How is this reflected in today's Australia?

The Menzies Era saw prosperity and opportunity grow in Australia with advances in education and technology, housing, trade and industry.  At the same time, there were challenges for Australia in the aftermath of World War II with the Cold War and social change which came with the influx of migrants.

Did the Menzies government help to make the world better?  Can this be seen in the way Australians live today?  Here are a few ideas for you to consider, but there are many more….

  • From the appointment of Dame Enid Lyons to his first ministry, Robert Menzies appointed women to senior positions in his governments. Does this have an impact in today’s Australia?
  • Robert Menzies won secondary and tertiary scholarships to complete his education. What education initiatives were implemented by the Menzies government?  What effect, if any, was there on the lives of Australians? Was there a wider influence?
  • By 1951 the world was undergoing new tensions in international relations – the Cold War. National service for compulsory military training of 18-year-old men was introduced in Australia.  What were the consequences of these tensions. How are they reflected today?
  • The Summer Olympic Games were held in Melbourne in 1956. There was much at stake when Hungary contested a water polo semi-final with the Soviet Union, the country which had recently invaded their own. Do sporting events have the power to make a better world?
  • The Menzies government introduced a number of social, public health and aged care service reforms. Did these reforms create a better world for Australians?  Are they evident today?
  • The Menzies government in 1954 established Mawson Station in Antarctica as Australia’s first permanent base. Davis was established in 1957 as part of Australia’s contribution to the International Geophysical Year.  Do these stations have an influence on the lives of Australians today, and if so, how?  Is there a broader global impact?

Menzies in his time: Robert Gordon Menzies 1894-1978 - Australian statesman

"The years spanned by Menzies' lifetime had taken civilization from horseless carriages to freeways; from the Wright brothers to a jet that could cross the world in a day; instant telecommunication, bringing an isolated Australia into the 'global village'; wars that drew the nations together; the nuclear bomb; and a growing maturity as travel, education and culture became accessible to everyone; Menzies lived through the changes and seemed to enjoy the journey."

Source: Video "Menzies in his time", 1994

Key information for Sir Robert Menzies

Menzies Virtual MuseumAn excellent starting point to learn about the life and achievements of Sir Robert Menzies is our educational resource the Menzies Virtual Museum.

The website is a timeline spanning Sir Robert's life from 1894 to 1978 containing images and supporting text.

Looking at the time line in any one year, you can see what was happening in Menzies' life, in Australia and around the world.  


Key information from the National History Challenge

National History Challenge Website:

Closing date:  August 2017

Contest information:

Special Categories:

How to enter

Read about the 2016 Menzies special category winner here.

Learn about the 2016 state and national winners here.