The Simpson Prize

The Simpson Prize is a national competition for Year 9 and 10 students. The competition encourages participants to focus on the significance of Australia’s experiences in World War I.

Winners for each state and territory travel to overseas battlefields the year after they submit their winning entries. Winners and runners-up travel to Canberra for a two-day program and Presentation Ceremony at Parliament House.

The Simpson Prize requires you to respond to a set question using both the Simpson Prize Australian War Memorial Source Selection (which can be found here) and your own research.

You are encouraged to agree, debate with or challenge the statement from a variety of perspectives – individual, national and global – and to use sources in a variety of forms.

You are expected to make effective use of a minimum of three of the sources provided (see link above). Up to half of your response should also make use of information drawn from your own knowledge and research.

The Prize

The Simpson Prize is a national competition for Year 9 and 10 students that focuses on the service of Australians in World War I. One winner and one runner-up from each State and Territory will attend a briefing program in Canberra in early 2021. Winning students and teachers of the 2021 Simpson Prize will travel to key historic sites overseas*.

* Subject to COVID19 restrictions

In previous years…

2019 Simpson Prize students

The student winners, runners-up and teacher chaperones from each state and territory enjoy a two-day trip to Canberra where they visit several of the capital’s museums and institutions, attend the presentation ceremony, and enjoy a special dinner.

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Accompanied by two teacher chaperones and a historian from the Australian War Memorial, the eight state and territory student winners will then travel to overseas historic sites in April (incorporating Anzac Day commemorations).


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Please read more about the 2019 overseas trip on the Australian War Memorial website AWM articles/blog

Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium
By Benjamin English
Ballarat Clarendon College

I don’t think I’d ever woken up at 2:55 am to do anything before, and certainly not to go to a dawn service, but as it turned out it would be every bit worth it. After a quick shower, it was finally time to use all the thermals, gloves and the beanie I had packed expecting many cold days for the first time. The drive to Polygon Wood wasn’t too long, and by the end of it I was finally starting to wake up. When we arrived, we jumped out into the freezing Belgian morning and began a short walk over to the cemetery, where the ceremony was taking place. As we walked through the forest, lit only by the occasional candle on the side of the winding path, it was a great time to reminisce about what we had seen and learnt over the past days. The cemetery itself was also beautifully atmospheric, with candles dotted among the headstones contrasting with the dark silhouette of the towering Australian 5th Division memorial. We soon took our places near the front of the standing area, and watched the sun slowly start to rise. A modest crowd gathered, and the ceremony was underway before we knew it. After a few pieces were played by a school band, before there were some touching speeches from representatives of Australia and New Zealand. The Last Post is always a moving experience, but the setting of this service and what we had been learning over the past few days made this rendition the most memorable I have experienced. The buglers were silhouetted against the glowing pink sunrise and were interrupted by nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees. Jacinta, Mari and Jett laid a wreath on behalf of the group, and the service ended after little more than an hour. The lead-up to and the actual service were certainly one of the key highlights of the trip, and a morning I will remember forever.  

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