Changed Forever: The Making of Australia

Those who shaped our country were themselves shaped by the Great War. This is their story.

Everything was changed forever by the First World War, Changed Forever: The Making of Australia charts how and why through the lives, trials, triumphs and tragedies of a dozen Australians who fought, waited, argued, survived, or died. It tells the story of the First World War through the experiences – of survival, repatriation, death, being honoured, passing unnoticed – of diverse Australians, from political leaders to sporting champions, military commanders to serving soldiers, opera divas to newspaper reporters.

This is the First World War as experienced by Australians on Gallipoli, in the Middle East and on the Western Front and, equally, it is the story of the Australian home front during the war years, using these same men and women as our portal to their families, colleagues, and mates.


Episode 1: A Nation Goes To War

We meet some of the people whose lives we will follow through the terrible four years of war that are about to change Australian society. As the first sounds of menace are heard, with the shots in far-off Sarajevo that assassinate the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the Coles Brothers are opening their first store in Collingwood. In rural Victoria the sons and daughters of the McGinness family support their widowed mother in a life of pastoral comfort on their dairy farm. In London Australia’s only true superstar, the opera singer Nellie Melba, performs before the crowned heads of Europe. In less than six weeks the tensions and rivalries of the European powers have dragged that continent to war. And because those powers have global empires, the world is at war. Australia is at war.


Episode 2: Anzacs

The war is at its most intense. But that intensity, measured in casualties and destruction, does not suggest victory: the western front is a bloody stalemate. In part two, there is growing industrial unrest in Australia. Families like the McGinnesses are changed by the realities of loss and turn against war as a solution. Billy Hughes faces division at home. For so long a war of attrition, movement and manoeuvre suddenly returns to the battlefield in 1918. When it all ends, in November of 1918, the soldiers return home. Their sacrifice, and the experience of those who fought beside them, those who were touched by the war in so many ways, is what changed Australia forever.