One hundred years on from the First World War and the landing of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps – the Anzacs – on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey, Australians come together to honour all of those who have served our country.
The men and women who served in the Australian Imperial Force were ordinary Australians. They volunteered to fight in the service of the British Empire and over the four years of war came to be admired for their performance on the battlefields of Gallipoli and the Middle East to the Western Front.
The current focus of the Anzac Centenary 2014–2018 national programme is the Gallipoli campaign; from next year, attention will turn to the Western Front and the Middle East.
During the Anzac Centenary, we also commemorate a century of service, encompassing all wars, conflicts and peace operations in which Australia has been involved.
The Anzac Centenary national programme aims to give all Australians the opportunity to honour the service and sacrifice of all those who have worn our nation’s uniform, including the more than 102,000 who have lost their lives.
The Anzac Centenary is also a time to remember the essential contribution of those on the home front who support and care for those in service, and often face the loss or injury of loved ones.
The Centenary is the most significant period of commemoration in our nation’s history. It is a time to reflect upon the Anzac values of mateship, courage, sacrifice, loyalty and resilience, and on how these values are upheld by Australia’s servicemen and women today.
To help local communities learn more about our wartime history, the Australian Government is supporting a range of commemorative, educational and cultural initiatives through programmes such as the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program (ACLGP) and the Anzac Centenary Public Fund (ACPF).
The ACLGP was created to encourage communities to undertake their own Anzac Centenary projects. Through this programme, more than 1,640 grants across 150 federal electorates have been awarded funding to the value of $16.7 million (ex GST).
The ACPF was established to enable the Australian business community and the public to donate to Anzac Centenary initiatives. More than $17 million has now been donated to the Public Fund for significant projects associated with the Anzac Centenary, leaving an enduring legacy for current and future generations of Australians. These projects, nominated by state and territory governments, include restoration of Hobart’s Soldiers’ Memorial Avenue; The Borella Ride in the Northern Territory; redevelopment of Victoria’s Shrine of Remembrance and of the Anzac Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.
The Anzac Centenary’s flagship community event, launched by the Prime Minister last month, is the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience. This free travelling exhibition uses a mix of artefacts, audio and film to tell stories of the First World War and Australia’s ensuing century of service. It will visit 23 locations around Australia starting in September this year.
Finally, ex-service organisations across the country are now finalising preparations for this year’s Anzac Day dawn services and marches. These annual commemorations are a driving force in ensuring the Anzac spirit continues, and I encourage every Australian to attend their local service.
Lest we forget.
Media inquiries: Minister Ronaldson: Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line
can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling.
Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546).