Theme: Making a better world?

Special category: Using primary sources from the National Archives

Welcome and thank you for considering an entry for the National Archives of Australia's Special Category in the National History Challenge 2017.

You have two options for presenting your entry in this category.

Option 1 – Documentary film of a primary sources trail

Develop and produce a film (5 minutes maximum) of a chronologically correct primary source trail that explores the 1967 Referendum and the greater twentieth-century struggle for Indigenous rights. Did the referendum make for a better world? How did this referendum further the recognition of Indigenous peoples? Are the Indigenous rights recognised today?

You must present each piece of evidence and make clear how it relates to the theme. You need to include at least 10 pieces of evidence, including at least five from the National Archives of Australia's records. The additional pieces of primary evidence you select, may include, but are not limited to, newspaper accounts, Hansard records, photographs, cartoons, letters, advertisements, music and television news coverage.

You should clearly state the specific focus of your documentary. Some of the areas you may decide to cover include the federal government’s position on the 1967 Referendum or those involved with the campaign for Constitutional change for the Indigenous peoples of Australia.

Get started

  • Explore National Archives’ records on VRROOM – The 1967 Referendum
  • For inspiration, check out this example of a primary source trail on the changes in the way the international community viewed and acted towards apartheid South Africa during 1948-94. Its focus is different, but the style and format may assist you in developing your own documentary.
  • Other helpful resources

What do you need to give us?

  • A film (five minutes maximum) that includes an appropriate script, images and soundtrack. It must be in a common video format (for example, mp3, avi).
  • An annotated bibliography.

Option 2 – essay

Write an essay exploring ‘Making a Better World?’ through the use of primary sources (archival records) from the National Archives’ collection.

Explore your chosen individual or group’s contribution to the betterment of Australian society through the National Archives’ digital collection, as well as using other collections of primary and secondary sources. Be sure your essay is evaluative.

A few essay topics might include:

  • The Snowy Hydro Scheme
  • The role of the Constitution in laying the foundation for a just society
  • Australian government's healthcare initiatives
  • Scientific endeavours in our nation's history
  • Our role in the United Nations
  • Women's contribution

Get started

  • Explore National Archives' records on Vrroom – the archival records (primary sources) are grouped by topics. Don’t forget to check the Group tabs and the keyword hyperlinks associated with the records for further inspiration and ideas.
  • Other helpful resources

What do you need to give us?

A 1,000 – 2,000 word essay that relates to the theme of 'Making a Better World?' in Australian history and includes:

  • your question clearly defined and a 50-word summary of your essay
  • an investigation of at least five primary sources from the National Archives of Australia’s collection
  • complementary resources from other collections and media
  • an annotated bibliography and appropriate referencing.

Useful information

All entries are due by Friday 25 August 2017.

Need more help? Want to ask some questions?

Just send us an email at and we will be happy to answer any of your questions about your entry for this year's National History Challenge.

Good luck with your research! We look forward to reading and viewing your entries in the National Archives’ Special Category for the National History Challenge 2017.