Conscription of WW1
During WW1 it was a time of crisis,many men joined the Australian armys ranks.The government of Prime Minister Alfred Deakin and other non-Labor governments had introduced a form of conscription for boys from 12 to 14 years of age and for youths from 18 to 20 years of age between 1905 and 1909.
An Australian Labor Party government instituted a system of compulsory military training for all males aged between 12 and 26 from 1 January 1911.
John Barrett, in his study of boy conscription, Falling In, noted:
"In 1911 there were approximately 350,000 boys of an age (10-17 years) to register for compulsory training up to the end of 1915. Since 'universal' was a misnomer, about half that number were exempted from training, or perhaps never registered, reducing the group to 175,000.
There was also extensive opposition to boyhood conscription resulting in, by July 1915, some 34,000 prosecutions and 7,000 detentions of trainees, parents, employers or other persons required to register.
Following the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, volunteers initially flocked to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) for overseas service. By 1916 there were insufficient new volunteers to cover the AIF's massive casualties and to meet the British authorities' requests for reinforcements. The Prime Minister, WM Hughes, appealed directly to all eligible men to volunteer. His plea was supported by the work of patriotic organisations, and a campaign of propaganda posters, to raise more volunteers.
When it appeared that the recruitment targets would not be met, the government sought approval, by way of a referendum on October 1916, to require men conscripted into militia training to also undertake overseas service. The referendum of 28 October 1916 asked Australians:
Are you in favour of the Government having, in this grave emergency, the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service, for the term of this War,...