Australia in the 1950s


The Korean War


Between 1950 and 1953, Australian forces were involved in the Korean civil war. The war began when communist forces from North Korea invaded South Korea by crossing the 38th parallel, which had been set as the division between the North and the South at the end of the Second World War.

The USA supported South Korea, and because of Australia's commitment to the ANZUS Pact, prime minister Robert Menzies committed Australian soldiers to fight alongside the US and South Korean soldiers. North Korea was supported by two communist countries; the Soviet Union and China. Thereafter, it became a protracted war of attrition with neither side able to gain a significant advantage. About 17,000 Australian troops served in Korea with 1,500 casualties, 339 of whom were killed by the time a truce was called in July 1953.

South Korean soldiers


A snapshot of 1958

  • January
    • The first Opera House lottery is held in NSW to raise money for its construction.

  • February
    • The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals (FCAA) is established and later included Torres Strait Islanders.
    • Among its leaders are Faith Bandler and Chicka Dixon, and the poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker).

  • August
    • Herb Elliott sets a world record in the mile distance race (3:54.5) at Morton Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

  • September
    • The ANZAC Day Act 1958 receives Royal Assent, making Anzac Day (25 April) a national public holiday in Australia.

  • October
    • Sir Douglas Mawson, Antarctic explorer and geologist, dies at the age of 76.

  • November
    • The first television episode of Bandstand, hosted by Brian Henderson, goes to air on TCN-9.

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