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Drawing from the functions of the Memorial as described in the Australian War Memorial Act 1980, the purpose of the Australian War Memorial is to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war or on operational service and those who have served our nation in times of conflict.

The Australian War Memorial Act 1980 Part II, section 5, states:

1. The functions of the Memorial are:

a. to maintain and develop the national memorial referred to in subsection 6(1) of the Australian War Memorial Act 1962 as a national memorial of Australian who have died:

i. on or as a result of active service; or

ii. as a result of any war or warlike operations in which Australians have been on active service;

b. to develop and maintain, as an integral part of the national memorial referred to in paragraph (a), a national collection of historical material;

c. to exhibit, or to make available for exhibition by others, historical material that is otherwise in the possession of the Memorial;

d. to conduct, arrange for and assist in research into matters pertaining to the Australian military history; and

e. to disseminate information relating to:

i. Australian military history;

ii. the national memorial referred to in paragraph (a);

iii. the memorial collection; and

iv. the Memorial and its functions.

2. The Memorial shall use every endeavour to make the most advantageous use of the material collection in the national interests.

These functions provide the framework around which the Memorial undertakes its core functions of commemoration, education, and research. As the custodian of Australia’s military history, the Memorial works to maintain a place for solemn reflection; develop, maintain and exhibit a collection of historically significant material; provide an authoritative reference facility; and conduct, disseminate, and assist with research into Australia’s military history.