Australian Women in War provides information concerning women and their contribution during the conflicts in which Australia has been involved and since. The project is a joint initiative of the New South Wales Local Committee of the Australian Women's Archives Project (AWAP) and the Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs.
- To prepare biographical entries for the AWAP Register on these women's organisations and a small number of their members;
- To use the full potential of the Register software to identify and register the various relationships emerging within and around the contributions of these women;
- To work with these organisations and their members to facilitate the preservation of their records.
Stage one of this ongoing project commenced in April 2002 when the Department of Veterans' Affairs invited ex-service women's and related associations to form a working group. Many of the military and civilian associations were established during and after World War II. Association members, along with representatives from consulting institutions, met in October and November 2002 and commenced the task of recording the history of the associations.
The information obtained was then analysed and the following conclusions were drawn.
- All associations, whether military or civilian, were proud of their volunteer status;
- Ex-members made few distinctions between their service and association, in actual fact they were seen as one;
- Some of the significant people suggested for biographies served in more than one conflict.
In collaboration with the Commemorations Branch of the Department of Veterans' Affairs it was decided that the project should trace the involvement of women during Australia's military conflicts. The initial funding from the Department of Veterans' Affairs Saluting Their Service program covered entries nominated by the working group. The Office of the Status of Women provided additional funding which enabled an Australia wide focus.
At the working group meetings the consulting institutions' representatives worked with association members and completed 'capturing their stories' forms, which focused not only on their service career but also the periods before and after. It was from the information obtained from these forms that the project staff compiled entries. Members were encouraged to write their own entry and also those of other members of their service or association. Copies of the form were also distributed to branches of the associations throughout Australia. A range of sources was used to supplement the detail provided, in particular records of the consulting institutions and the various volumes and editions of the Australian Dictionary of Biography and Who's Who in Australia.
The members of the working group nominated numerous individuals for inclusion on the AWAP register and at the time of the launch only a small fraction of those identified have been listed.