1918: A different life

Australia was forever changed by the Armistice of 11 November 1918. The moment signalled an end to the conflict and marked the beginning of a transformed existence. For some, a different life had begun unfolding months before. Others found that the elation of victory was swiftly eroded by further struggles: the trials of demobilisation, ideological disillusionment and political upheaval. The weight of collective bereavement hung heavy over Australian communities, from small towns to larger cities.

Australians looked to their leaders to help navigate this uncertain world. The government was indebted to the volunteers of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and their families who had risked everything. State and Commonwealth agencies resolved to offer financial, medical and vocational assistance to all who needed it. This ambitious suite of protective policies, many established in wartime, was unprecedented. Sometimes interactions with the government initiated a new purpose in people's lives, ushered in changed circumstances, or propelled individuals down a different road.

The National Archives' collection offers a new perspective on how Australians found opportunities to rebuild their lives. Despite the tragedy of war, some resourceful people prospered, re-established professional careers or embraced the spheres of community and domestic life with new purpose.

These are some of their stories.

The family ships

Warning1918: A different life includes names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders now deceased.

Those left behind

Warning1918: A different life includes names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders now deceased.

Find out more about some of these individuals at
Discovering Anzacs
1918: A different life