Robyn van Dyk1

Head, Research Centre, Australian War Memorial


Women who served in the Australian Women’s Land Army (AWLA) performed an invaluable role in fighting the war on the Food Front during the Second World War. The AWLA was designed to meet a growing crisis in rural labour and to free available men of fighting age for the armed services. For many women this service provided a chance to contribute to the war effort and was a life changing experience. This presentation, based on the Memorial’s unique collections, will examine the impact of this service on women’s and agricultural history.


Robyn van Dyk is Head of the Australian War Memorial’s Research Centre. Her work involves leading the Research Centre team to develop, manage, preserve, and provide access to the Memorial’s archival and published collections. Robyn has curated a variety of exhibitions, including co-curating the MAGNA award-winning Anzac voices (2014) and a joint exhibition with Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation, Gallipoli to Afghanistan and the future: 100 years of mapping (2015) and A matter of trust: Dayaks and Z Special Unit Operatives in Borneo 1945 (2018). She is currently leading the Memorial’s major digitisation project to enhance availability and access to digital content online including publishing the Second World War Unit War Diaries, and personal letters and diaries of the world wars. Robyn has produced museum-related publications including a 70th anniversary commemorative booklet on the AWLA presented by Prime Minister Gillard to surviving members of this service in August 2012. She travelled to Afghanistan as the Memorial’s official curator, and spent several weeks observing conditions and collecting records and objects. Robyn has recently partnered with the Australian National University in an ARC funded project researching Australians in Borneo during the Second World War and in 2018 with the University of New South Wales in an ARC Linkage project on the Afghanistan conflict using data and technologies titled: Re-defining defence commemoration using an interactive database narrative framework.

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