Should we bring back this compulsory scheme to make young people more respectful?

Faced with mounting Cold War tensions, communist insurgents and war in Korea, Prime Minister Robert Menzies began national service in

Faced with mounting Cold War tensions, communist insurgents and war in Korea, Prime Minister Robert Menzies began national service in 1951. Over 200,000 young men were trained by the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force throughout the next eight years. Fast forward to today, and many people are calling for national service to be restored.

In 2015, the world looks very different but our political climate is still tense. Islamic State threatens Western society, countries like China are being blamed for cyber attacks, and a clash of civilisations seems increasingly real.

Against this international backdrop, young men in Australia have been linked to a rising tide of violence in clubs, pubs and at home. The use of ice, methamphetamines and other drugs is creating a host of social problems, whilst youth unemployment sits above 12%.

In response to a recent Starts At Sixty article about coward punches, which are typically perpetrated by young men aged 15-25 years, one reader said “two years national service should teach them some respect, if not fear”.

Whilst another reader added, “national service never hurt anyone, it would make men of them”.  She also said “my husband did national service one month after we were married… didn’t do him any harm”.

The idea also has royal backing. In an interview earlier this year, Prince Harry said “bring back national service”. He added, “I dread to think where I’d be without the army… and more importantly to me, what I’ve seen the army do to other young guys”.

“You can make bad choices in life, some severe, but it’s how you recover from those and which path you end up taking. And the army has done amazing things for me”, Prince Harry went on to explain.

Starts At Sixty readers have been quick to highlight that national service in 2015 shouldn’t mean fighting overseas. Instead, readers believe national service could instil respect and discipline in wayward young men.

“They have no guidance at home”, one reader said. “It’s always been easier to ignore your kids than to pick up their behaviour with consequences and positive reactions! (Young men) need to realise that the world doesn’t owe them anything!”

Do you think national service should be restored? Would military service teach young Aussie men respect and discipline? Or would it place them in harm’s way, given the instabilities abroad?


  1. I agree and something needs to be done about young girls as well.There are more stories coming out about young teenage girls stealing cars,drugs and who knows what else.They need pulling into line as well.

  2. Yes we should but respect is a
    Two way street we have respect our
    Children right to grow and develop
    Their skills love will take family
    A long way 💝

    • Yes it is a two way street, but respect is earned not demanded as these kids seem to think. Also they dont seem to grow up, 30 something still acting like their in high school.

  3. Great idea. Now that parents aren’t allowed to discipline their own children or can’t be bothered we have raised several generations of bad mannered, the world owes me, children. So pop them in the forces for a year. That will teach them discipline and perhaps guide them towards a better respectful attitude.

    • Parents are allowed to discipline their children, they’re just not supposed to smack them. There is a huge difference.

    • Parents have always been able to discipline their kids, if you mean hitting your kids it never worked, the problem is their lack of parenting, full stop.

    • Lee Horrocks : Whose fault is that? We brought them up. And our children brought up their children.
      I know we changed some of the rules our parents used, and our children changed some of the rules we used, and so it ends up with children who have no discipline or self discipline, and part of this has been the fact that some have been pushed through school without learning, and coming out at the end with no skills and no hope. What is needed is to instil realistic hope. Not “you can do anything you put your mind to” type hope, but the sort that gives them pride in themselves, and self respect. National service can do that. It can give them purpose.

      • Rob Gee  

        It would be good if national service also comprised an alternative like the American Peace Corps. Both of them would give the participants some vital lessons in respect and care for others. I would suggest we also grab the professional unemployed and give them a stint in the service. Teach them how the real world looks, it doesn’t have a border around it with convenient breaks for drugs and coffee. It is in your face and to be coped with at their own expense, not mine as a tax payer and part time pensioner. Part time because they are consuming the country’s resources instead of helping increase them. No-one owes anyone a living, least of all the young ones with the sense of entitlement and the others with a lazy gimme attitude.

    • Kerry Goodwin  

      I agree and was only talking about this yesterday. A lot of young people lack discipline and respect. Therefore have no respect for themselves! It would be good for them and Society in general.

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