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Programme 3.1: War Graves and Commemorations

Objective

Programme 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. It 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 and Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery in PNG.

Since 1922, the Australian Government has provided the programme of official commemoration to honour the now more than 412,000 Australians who have died in war or as a result of war. Since 1975, the programme has been delivered through the Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG). 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 responsible for the planning and delivery of the Australian Government’s arrangements for the Anzac Centenary Program 2014–2018.

Expenses

Administered and Departmental expenses – Programme outcomes against Budget
  2013–14 PBS ($m) Estimated actual 2013–14 ($m) Outcome 2013–14 ($m)
Administered 59.2 48.9 43.0
Departmental 23.2 23.2 24.2
Total resources 82.4 72.1 67.2

PBS = Portfolio Budget Statements

Under Programme 3.1, the Minister for Finance granted approval to move $1.65 million of administered funds from the 2013–14 financial year to the 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 financial years. This movement allowed for extended timeframes across two projects, namely:

  • development of a Vietnam Veterans’ Education Centre in Washington, United States
  • management of the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event.

In addition, the Minister for Finance granted approval to move $13.75 million of administered funds from the 2013–14 financial year to 2014–15. This movement allowed for extended timeframes to implement the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program.

Further information, including a breakdown of the funds moved to each project, is available on page 71 of the 2014–15 Portfolio Budget Statements.

In addition to the movement of funds detailed above, the Department balances higher costs for Gallipoli-related activities against Programme 3.2 through a targeted underspend in Programme 3.1. This underspend was achieved, and is reflected in the financial outcome for 2013–14.

Deliverables

The Department has:

  • implemented the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program as part of the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Program 2014–2018
  • provided support and funding under the Saluting Their Service (STS) Commemorative Grants Program and the STS Major Commemorative Grants Program
  • promoted community involvement in commemorations programmes, 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
  • conducted a ballot process, which was deemed to be the fairest and most transparent way, to give all Australians the chance to apply for the limited number of places available at the Anzac Commemorative Site in Turkey for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings
  • 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
  • maintained the ‘Graves of Our Bravest’ programme for recipients of the Victoria Cross, the George Cross and the Cross of Valour
  • completed the Honouring Our War Dead programme across Australia as part of the Anzac Centenary Program.
Deliverables – Programme outcomes against Budget projections
  2013–14 PBS Estimated actual 2013–14 Outcome 2013–14
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 20,971 21,012 21,061
Overseas graves (non world wars) 1,043 1,043 1,043
Post–war commemorations 309,750 310,104 310,293
Provide new post–war commemorations 4,121 4,205 4,394
Manage national memorials overseas 36 36 36
Implement war graves related projects 3 3 3
Community awareness and education resources 439,000 392,801 399,186
Grants applications processed 1,908 190 5421
Domestic commemorative events 3 1 1
International commemorative events (excludes Gallipoli, includes Villers–Bretonneux) 3 3 4

PBS = Portfolio Budget Statements

1 2013–14 grant applications processed was significantly lower than estimated in the 2013–14 PBS as a result of the ACLGP closing date for applications being extended from 28 February 2014 to 30 May 2014. The number of ACLGP applications processed in 2014–15 will consequently be much higher than the estimated 874 in the 2014–15 PBS.

Key performance indicators

Key Performance Indicators – Programme outcomes against Budget target
2013–14 Portfolio Budget Statements 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 completed at the Lutwyche War Cemetery and the Adelaide War Cemetery. The Honouring our War Dead initiative was completed and included refurbishing two war cemeteries, rebuilding more than 700 graves and refurbishing 17,000 plaques. 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 were affected by significant foreign exchange rate movements.
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. Partially achieved. A total of 218 Saluting Their Service (STS) Community Commemorative Grants grant applications, seven STS Major Commemorative Grants grant applications, and 297 Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program grant applications, were processed in a timely manner. Given the large volume of Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program applications (over 900) received at the closing date in May 2014, there were 1411 applications in various stages of processing as at 30 June 2014. Community and ex-service organisations, local government authorities, museums and schools benefited from funding under the grants programmes. Ten grant applications were processed under the guidelines in place before the introduction of STS major commemorative grants. Seven grants were provided under the Overseas Privately Constructed Memorial Restoration Program. Three grants were provided as part of the Anzac Centenary Program 2014–2018.
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 Papua New Guinea and Malaysia also indicated satisfaction and increased attendance numbers in 2014.

Report on performance

Anzac Centenary Program

The Anzac Centenary Program 2014–2018 is currently being implemented following a series of former and current government decisions, particularly in the 2012–13 and 2013–14 budgets. The former government’s response to the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board’s report of 1 March 2013 accepted all 25 of the Board’s recommendations (22 in full and three in principle) and allocated an additional $25 million in the 2013 Budget towards implementation of the Board’s report.

In total, the Commonwealth has now committed over $145 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 the Australian Remembrance Trail on the Western Front (2009–10 Budget). The Government also increased funding for the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program by $3.75 million ($25,000 per federal electorate).

An implementation plan for the Anzac Centenary Program is being developed and will continue to be refined. This will include funding, governance arrangements, key actions, milestones and key performance indicators.

Ex-service organisations and states and territories are regularly informed of progress with developments in the Anzac Centenary Program and consulted on their own Anzac Centenary initiatives.

Albany Convoy Commemorative Event

The Albany Convoy Commemorative Event (ACCE) will be the curtain raiser to the national Anzac Centenary Program 2014–2018, and will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the departure of the first convoy of ships carrying the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force to the First World War.

The ACCE was funded through the 2013–14 Budget and is scheduled to take place in Albany, Western Australia, from 31 October to 2 November 2014.

This event will involve a series of activities, including a commemorative service, Royal Australian Navy sunset ceremonial, ship open day programme and troop march. In addition, the National Anzac Centre will be officially opened as part of the ACCE. The Commonwealth has contributed $8.4 million to the Centre. The event will be organised by the Department in partnership with the Australian Defence Force, the Western Australian Government, the New Zealand Defence Force, and the City of Albany.

Anzac Centenary Public Fund

The Anzac Centenary Public Fund was established on 26 June 2013 and was granted deductible gift recipient status to enable donations over $2 to be tax deductible. The fund was established to enable the Australian business community and the public to donate to Anzac Centenary commemorations.

The fund is open for donations from 30 November 2012 to 1 May 2019.

On 12 December 2013, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Tony Abbott MP, and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, and Special Minister of State, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, officially launched the Anzac Centenary Public Fund with Mr Lindsay Fox AC.

On 7 March 2014, Senator Ronaldson announced the establishment of the Anzac Centenary Public Fund Board, chaired by former senator and Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, Mr Gary Humphries, with the Hon. Con Sciacca AO as deputy chair. Other members include Mr Simon Lewis PSM, Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs; Ms Jane Halton PSM, Secretary of the Department of Finance; and Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC AFC (Ret’d).

The Public Fund Board will assess Anzac Centenary projects and initiatives and make recommendations to the Government for project funding from the fund. The former Anzac Centenary Advisory Board’s work is now complete and this board has disbanded.

More information about the Anzac Centenary Program is available at www.anzaccentenary.gov.au.

Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program

The Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program (ACLGP) assists and encourages communities across Australia to undertake their own Anzac Centenary projects that commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australian servicemen and women in the First World War.

The ACLGP is a key element of the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Program through which funding of up to $125,000 is available for each federal Member of Parliament to support projects in their electorates commemorating the First World War.

The ACLGP closed on 30 May 2014 with a total of 1,584 grant applications being received by the Department from 150 electorates. Under the guidelines, applications could be considered after the closing date if the electorate had not exhausted its allocation. A further 115 applications were admitted to processing under these guidelines.

In 2013–14, 256 ACLGP grants totalling $2.6 million across 62 electorates were approved for projects relating to, for instance memorials and honour boards, exhibitions and displays of First World War memorabilia and artefacts, publications containing biographic information and stories on local servicemen and women, and commemorative services. These grants were provided to various community organisations including ex-service organisations, museums and schools. A further 41 applications were pending ministerial approval.

A full list of approved grants is published on the DVA website, www.dva.gov.au.

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 and are provided to ex-service organisations, local government authorities, museums and schools.

There are two categories of STS grants: Major Commemorative Grants (MCGs) and Community Commemorative Grants (CCGs). CCGs enable small communities to build memorials and preserve wartime memorabilia that are significant locally but not necessarily nationally significant, while MCGs are available for significant projects, at national, state or territory levels, that contribute to Australia’s understanding of its wartime heritage and honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations.

During the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014, projects commemorating the First World War were not considered for funding under the CCG category of STS as funding for these projects was available through the ACLGP. Projects funded through MCGs are required to have a national, state or territory focus and are therefore not eligible for funding under the ACLGP.

In 2013–14, 184 CCGs totalling $420,789 and four MCGs totalling $274,524 were approved.

In 2013–14, two grants totalling $120,000 were approved to the Inverell RSL and the Gunnedah Shire Band. Funds for these grants had been specifically identified in the 2013–14 Portfolio Budget Statements and were processed under the guidelines in place before the introduction of the MCGs.

In 2013–14, seven grant applications totalling $1,142,500 were processed under the guidelines in place before the introduction of the MCGs.

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 peace operations.

Over the year the Department produced a large range of education and awareness materials and activities, 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.

A range of electronic media such as mobile and tablet applications and e-books are being developed to complement an education and community awareness portal and increase community awareness of Australia’s wartime history. Multiple educational resources and activities, linked to the Australian Curriculum, are in production to support teachers and students in the classroom over the period of the Anzac Centenary.

Commemorative services

Anzac Day services are attended by many thousands of visitors at Australian memorials around the world.

An Anzac Day Dawn Service is held at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and a second service at the Digger Memorial, Bullecourt, France. Over 4,500 visitors attended the Dawn Service in France in 2014. The Department also delivers services at Isurava in PNG; and supports services at Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery in PNG, Hellfire Pass in Thailand and Sandakan in Malaysia.

From 2016 to 2018, additional services will be held in France, Belgium and Israel to commemorate the many significant battles during the First World War.

Commemorative missions

Two veteran missions were undertaken during 2013–14, returning veterans back to their former battlefields in Korea for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice and to Normandy, France, for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings campaign. The Department delivered moving and appropriate services in Korea and Normandy. A significant level of support was provided to DVA’s commemorative missions by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Defence Force.

Commemorating our war dead and those who have died as a result of war

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 2,300 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 initiative was substantially completed. This included refurbishment of two war cemeteries, rebuilding of more than 700 graves, refurbishment of more than 17,000 plaques, upgrades to the Gardens of Remembrance in Sydney and Brisbane, and the redevelopment of the memorial area adjacent to Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery in PNG.

New commemorations

In 2013–14, the OAWG completed 4,394 new official commemorations. These consisted of 395 interments in crematoriums, 248 commemorations in lawn cemeteries, and the construction of 296 monumental graves and placement of 3,455 plaques in the OAWG Gardens of Remembrance. A further 171 offers of official commemoration were declined. Table 32 details post-war commemoration activity.

The number of war graves maintained during 2013–14 increased due to the acceptance by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) of a number of Australians who died in Australia between 1914 and 1921 or 1939 and 1947 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 32: Post-war commemoration activity 2009–10 to 2013–14
  2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14
Notification of eligibility for commemoration 5,554 4,864 4,596 4,811 3,805
Acceptance by families 4,146 3,471 3,182 4,238 3,142
Completed memorials 5,152 5,347 3,733 4,903 4,394

Cemetery and memorial information

Veteran and community feedback indicated that the quality of service provided by the OAWG in 2013–14 maintained the high standard of previous years. Table 33 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 33: Contacts relating to quality of OAWG services 2009–10 to 2013–14
  2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14
Letters and emails 427 413 343 325 287
Phone calls 142 115 97 52 73
Total 569 528 440 377 360

Overseas memorials and projects

Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front

The new ‘Plugstreet 14–18 Experience’ interpretive centre in Ploegsteert, Belgium, opened in July 2013. A major upgrade to parking and access at the Australian National Memorial, France, was completed ahead of Anzac Day 2014. Other completed projects include improvements to the surrounds of the First Australian Division Memorial, new visitor amenities and walking trails in and around Pozières, and completion of a significant upgrade to the Australians on the Western Front 1914–18 website, www.ww1westernfront.gov.au. The project timeline has been extended to 30 June 2016 to accommodate completion of trail elements in Villers-Bretonneux (the Franco-Australian Museum) and Peronne/Mont St Quentin.

Vietnam Veterans’ Education Centre

Development of the Australian contribution to the Vietnam Veterans’ Education Centre is continuing. The opening of the Centre has been rescheduled from 2016 to 2019.

Australian Memorial in New Zealand

The development of the Australian Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand, remains on schedule for dedication on 20 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 2013–14, seven grants totalling $71,967 funded the projects, which are detailed at www.dva.gov.au/commems_oawg/OAWG/grants.

Graves of Our Bravest

The Graves of Our Bravest programme provides for the maintenance of private memorials of Australian recipients of the Victoria Cross, the George Cross or the Cross of Valour that are not included in the programme of official commemoration. These private memorials are to be maintained in perpetuity. The programme also provides for the maintenance of the private memorials of recipients of the Victoria Cross from other Commonwealth countries which are located in Australia.

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