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Program 3.1: War Graves and Commemorations

Objective

Program 3.1 acknowledges and commemorates the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations.

Overview

The Department continues to deliver a range of activities supporting community awareness and preservation of Australia’s wartime and service heritage, and veterans’ experiences. The Department manages the Anzac Day services at Gallipoli in Turkey, Villers-Bretonneux in France and Isurava in Papua New Guinea (PNG) while supporting other international Anzac Day services including at Hellfire Pass in Thailand, Sandakan in Malaysia (cancelled in 2013 due to security issues) and Bomana War Cemetery in PNG.

Since 1922, the Australian Government has provided the program of official commemoration to honour the now more than 400 000 Australians who have died in war or as a result of war. Since 1975, the program has been delivered through the Office of Australian War Graves. In addition to the maintenance of existing memorials overseas, projects including the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front and the Australian Memorial in New Zealand are in development as significant elements of the Anzac Centenary.

The Department has been tasked as the lead agency for preparing and managing the Australian Government’s arrangements for the Anzac Centenary 2014-18.

Expenses

Administered and Departmental expenses
  2012–13 PBS1($ million) Estimated actual22012–13 ($ million) Outcome 2012–13 ($ million)
Administered 37.8 28.3 27.3
Departmental 21.4 21.8 21.2
Total resources 59.2 50.1 48.5

1 PBS in performance reporting tables means Portfolio Budget Statements.

2 Estimated actual means the estimated expense or total for 2012-13 provided in the 2013-14 Portfolio Budget Statements. As the Budget is released in May each year but the financial year does not close off until 30 June, the current year numbers in the Budget can only be estimates.

Under Program 3.1, the Minister for Finance and Deregulation granted approval to move $8.3 million of administered funds from the 2012-13 financial year to 2013-14 and 2014-15, with a small amount in 2015-16. This movement allowed for extended timeframes across five projects, namely:

  • construction of the Australian Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand

  • development of an Australian Remembrance Trail on the Western Front

  • development of a Vietnam Veterans’ Education Centre in Washington, United States

  • development of the Albany Interpretive Centre in Western Australia

  • managing Gallipoli attendance.

Further information, including a breakdown of the funds moved to each project, is available on page 69 of the 2013-14 Portfolio Budget Statements.

In addition to the movement of funds detailed above, the Department balances higher costs for Gallipoli-related activities against Program 3.2 through a targeted underspend in Program 3.1. This underspend was achieved, and is reflected in the financial outcome for 2012-13.

Deliverables

The Department has:

  • developed and implemented commemorative initiatives and provided support and funding under the commemorations program Saluting Their Service (STS)

  • promoted community involvement in commemorations programs, in conjunction with other government agencies and ex-service and community organisations

  • supported community awareness and preservation of Australia’s wartime and service heritage and veterans’ experiences

  • managed the Australian Government’s arrangements for the Anzac Centenary (Centenary of the First World War 2014-18) and the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign in 2015

  • commemorated eligible war dead by maintaining war graves and war cemeteries in Australia, PNG, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore

  • processed claims for, and provided new, official post-war commemorations

  • provided Australian commemorative information on casualties, cemeteries and memorials

  • maintained existing Australian Government memorials overseas and facilitated construction of new memorials as determined by government processes

  • delivered the ‘Graves of the Bravest’ program for recipients of the Victoria Cross, George Cross and Cross of Valour.

Deliverables
  2012–13 PBS Estimated actual 2012–13 Outcome 2012–13
Maintain commemorations      
War cemeteries 75 75 75
Gardens of Remembrance 10 10 10
Memorials to the Missing 5 5 5
War graves in Australia and PNG 20 941 20 966 21 012
Overseas graves (non world wars) 1043 1043 1043
Post–war commemorations 306 551 305 374 305 899
Provide new post–war commemorations 4631 4376 4903
Manage national memorials overseas 36 36 36
Implement war graves related projects 3 3 3
Community awareness and education resources 304 364 399 186 399 186
Grants applications processed 513 445 346
Domestic commemorative events 1 2 1
International commemorative events (excludes Gallipoli, includes Villers–Bretonneux) 5 8 8

Key performance indicators

Key Performance Indicators
2012–13 PBS Outcome
The maintenance of war cemeteries, memorials and graves is undertaken in accordance with Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) published standards. Performance is measured through CWGC inspections and veteran and community feedback. Achieved.
Significant maintenance works were implemented at the Adelaide, Mildura, Mount Gambier, Adelaide River, and Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemeteries and major works were initiated for Lutwyche War Cemetery.
The Honouring our War Dead initiative is on schedule.
Feedback from the public and the veteran community regarding the standards of commemoration was overwhelmingly complimentary.
Commemorations are provided within published timeframes to meet Australian standards of production/construction. Achieved.
Memorial presentation meets veteran and community approval and local requirements. Access and equity standards are met and, where applicable, information provided is both accurate and presented in a variety of formats. Achieved.
Project implementation meets the budget and timing agreed and announced by Government. Partially achieved. Project timelines in France and the United States were adjusted to accommodate the requirements of our international project partners. Budgets are unaffected.
High level of community and veteran satisfaction with quality and accessibility of resources. Achieved. Numerous letters and calls were received praising the quality and accessibility of the resources. Excellent feedback was received from educators at history teachers conferences on their use of our resources and the relevance and applicability of the resources for the Australian curriculum.
Grant applications are processed within timelines. High level of community and veteran satisfaction with grant outcomes. Achieved. A total of 334 STS grant applications, including two major grants, were received and processed in a timely manner. Community and ex-service organisations, local government authorities, museums and schools benefited from funding under the grants program.
Twelve grants were provided under the Overseas Privately Constructed Memorials Restoration Program.
High level of community and veteran satisfaction with commemorative events. Achieved. Feedback received through visitor satisfaction surveys from Anzac Day services in Gallipoli and France indicated a high level of satisfaction with the quality and content of services provided. Reports from PNG also indicated satisfaction and increasing numbers in 2013. The planned 2013 Anzac Day dawn service at Sandakan in Malaysia was not delivered by DVA due to security concerns advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Report on performance

The Department has achieved the objectives detailed in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2012-13. Additional information follows.

Saluting Their Service grants

STS grants support projects and activities that directly commemorate Australia’s servicemen and women who served in wars, conflicts and peace operations. The grants promote appreciation for, and understanding of, the role that those people have played in shaping the nation.

In 2012-13, 332 STS grants totalling $769 220 were approved for ex-service organisations, local government authorities, museums and schools. Projects included updating and constructing community war memorials, restoring vandalised memorials and installing plaques. A full list of approved grants is published on the DVA website, www.dva.gov.au.

Community involvement and awareness

DVA continues to effectively engage the general community, teachers and students on Australian wartime history and raise awareness and appreciation of the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

In 2012-13, new policy funding was made available for the development of an education and community awareness portal to provide educational, commemorative and historical information for the Anzac Centenary. Website upgrades and new information technology platforms are being developed for the online portal.

Over the year the Department produced a large range of education and awareness materials, including websites, a calendar, commemorative posters, school competitions, the Australians at War film archive and oral histories. DVA also supported Australian War Memorial outreach initiatives.

Commemorative missions

Several veteran missions were undertaken during 2012-13, returning veterans of specific campaigns back to their former battlegrounds to commemorate significant anniversaries. These included El Alamein, PNG, the United Kingdom and East Timor. The Department delivered moving and appropriate services, and a significant level of support was provided to DVA’s commemorative services by DFAT, the Australian Defence Force, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Federal Police.

Anzac Centenary and the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign in 2015

On 21 April 2013, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, released the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board Report to Government and announced that the Government would accept all of the Board’s 25 recommendations; 22 in full and three in principle. The Government’s response allocated an additional $25 million towards implementation in the 2013-14 Budget.

In total, the Commonwealth has now committed some $140 million to the Anzac Centenary program. This includes several earlier decisions, notably funding for the Australian Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand (2007-08 Budget) and for the Australian Remembrance Trail on the Western Front (2009-10 Budget).

An implementation plan for all Anzac Centenary projects has been developed and will continue to be refined. It is intended that each significant project and initiative in the program will have its own project plan, including budget, governance arrangement, key actions, milestones and key performance indicators.

More information about the Anzac Centenary program.

Commemorating our war dead and those who have died as a result of war (post-war dead)

Maintenance of war cemeteries, memorials and graves

Preventative and reactive maintenance was undertaken at war cemeteries and individual official commemorations within general cemeteries throughout Australia and the near region. Remoteness, resource availability and environmental conditions precluded work being undertaken at all of the more than 2300 sites where official commemorations are located. The increased risk of unacceptable presentation of the grave and plaque inventory was partly mitigated through the Honouring our War Dead budget initiative and the improved asset knowledge base and management system provided by the Department’s Choice and Maintainability in Veterans’ Services program. The Honouring our War Dead budget initiative delivered an additional 400 grave rebuilds and 10 000 plaque refurbishments in 2012-13.

New commemorations

In 2012-13, the OAWG completed 4903 new official commemorations. These consisted of 425 interments in crematoriums, 393 commemorations in lawn cemeteries, and the construction of 468 monumental graves and placement of 3617 plaques in the OAWG Gardens of Remembrance. A further 215 offers of official commemoration were declined. Table 36 details post-war commemoration activity.

The number of war graves maintained during 2012-13 increased due to the deaths of servicemen in Afghanistan, as well as the CWGC’s acceptance of a number of Australians who died in Australia during 1914-21 and 1939-47 who had not previously been officially commemorated as war dead of the two world wars. These cases were brought to the OAWG’s attention by members of the public and researchers and, after investigation, were accepted by the CWGC for commemoration.

Table 36: Post-war commemoration activity 2008-09 to 2012-13
  2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Notification of eligibility for commemoration 4975 5554 4864 4596 4811
Acceptance by families 4473 4146 3471 3182 4238
Completed memorials 4568 5152 5347 3733 4903

Cemetery and memorial information

Veteran and community feedback indicated that the quality of service provided by the OAWG in 2012-13 maintained the high standard of previous years. Table 37 shows the extent of community contact with the office over the past five years in relation to the quality of the work undertaken or advice provided. Overwhelmingly, comments were complimentary.

Table 37: Contacts relating to quality of OAWG services 2008-09 to 2012-13
  2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Letters and emails 489 427 413 343 325
Phone calls 163 142 115 97 52
Total 652 569 528 440 377

Overseas memorials and projects

Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front

Significant progress was made on trail elements at Zonnebeke and Ploegsteert in Belgium and at Fromelles in France. The overall project timeline was extended to 30 June 2015 to accommodate the scheduling of French funding for the trail elements at Pozières, Villers-Bretonneux and Peronne. Most elements of the trail will be completed in time for the commencement of the Anzac Centenary.

Vietnam Veterans’ Education Centre

Development of the Australian contribution to the Vietnam Veterans’ Education Centre (VVEC) is continuing. The opening of the VVEC has been rescheduled from 2015 to 2016 to accommodate the availability of funding in the United States.

Australian Memorial in New Zealand

The Australian Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand, remains on schedule to be completed in April 2015.

Overseas Privately Constructed Memorial Restoration Program

The Overseas Privately Constructed Memorial Restoration Program provides grants to assist Australian veterans and others in the restoration and preservation of existing privately constructed military unit and battle memorials located overseas. In 2012-13, 12 grants totalling $175 003 funded the projects.

Graves of Our Bravest

This program, now largely complete, provides for the refurbishment of private memorials of Australian recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross which are not included in the program of official commemoration. These private memorials are now maintained in perpetuity. The program also provided for the maintenance and refurbishment as required of the private memorials of recipients of the Victoria Cross from other Commonwealth countries which are located in Australia.

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