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Outcome 3: Commemorations

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Infographic (text version)—Outcome 3

Commemorations

Commemorative activities provide opportunities for the Australian community to appreciate and acknowledge the role played by Australians in wars and conflicts since Federation. DVA's commemorations program aims to increase the community's understanding of and regard for the service and sacrifice of veterans, to ensure that veterans are afforded the respect and recognition they deserve. DVA also acknowledges the service of eligible war dead by maintaining graves, cemeteries and gardens of remembrance in Australia and Australian memorials overseas.

In 2016–17:

  • 4,900 war grave plaques were refurbished.
  • 2,133 visitors attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux, France.
  • The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience travelled to 12 locations across Australia.
  • 194 commemorative grants were approved.

Acknowledgement and commemoration of those who served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations through promoting recognition of service and sacrifice, preservation of Australia's wartime heritage, and official commemorations.

Commemorative activities

DVA continued to deliver the Anzac Centenary Program 2014–2018, which acknowledges significant military anniversaries for veterans of the First World War and all subsequent conflicts, through its two themes: Centenary of the First World War and Century of Service. The Centenary of the First World War acknowledges the key centenary anniversaries of the First World War, which did so much to shape and define the Australian nation shortly after Federation. The Century of Service acknowledges significant anniversaries from all subsequent conflicts, wherever possible involving the surviving veterans of battles and campaigns.

A number of significant anniversaries of battles and events were commemorated under the Century of Service program during 2016–17, including the 50th anniversary of the end of the Indonesian Confrontation, the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan and Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, and the 75th anniversaries of the Fall of Singapore and Bomber Command operations.

DVA also successfully delivered a number of commemorative services under the Anzac Centenary Program to commemorate the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Fromelles, the Battle of Pozieres and the Battle of Bullecourt.

The final Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience exhibition was held in Sydney in April 2017. The flagship community event of Australia's Anzac Centenary toured 23 locations around Australia from September 2015 to April 2017. The exhibition was a collaborative venture between the Australian Government, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra Corporation, with extensive support from the Australian War Memorial and the ADF. The exhibition followed a chronological Century of Service time line spanning the period from before the First World War to the present day, using a mix of visuals, artefacts, audio and film.

DVA conducted the annual Anzac Day dawn services at Gallipoli in Turkey and Villers-Bretonneux in France, while supporting Anzac Day services at other locations, including Hellfire Pass in Thailand, Sandakan in Malaysia, and Isurava and Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery in Papua New Guinea.

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War graves and memorials

In 2016–17, significant renovations and improvements to facilities were undertaken in a range of war cemeteries across Australia and the region. Additionally, more than 175 graves were rebuilt and over 4,900 plaques were refurbished at some of the 2,300 sites where official commemorations are located.

There has been significant progress in the construction of the Sir John Monash Centre near Villers-Bretonneux, France. The main building and other facilities have been completed and work has commenced on internal structures, final finishes and multimedia displays, which will be used to tell the story of Australia's role on the Western Front.

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Other significant achievements

DVA's achievements under Outcome 3 during 2016–17 included:

  • delivering Anzac Day commemorations to mark the 102nd anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli, the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Bullecourt
  • delivering the centenary commemorations of the Battles of Fromelles and Pozieres in July 2016
  • conducting a veterans' commemorative mission to mark the 65th anniversary of the key battles in the Korean War
  • updating and consolidating the Anzac Portal website with new material and incorporating historical websites to inform and educate the community on Anzac Centenary initiatives and other material
  • supporting community awareness and preservation of Australia's wartime and service heritage, and veterans' experiences, through the production of innovative online educational resources and commemorative publications
  • contributing to a national ceremony conducted on Anzac Parade, Canberra, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan and Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War
  • delivering a national commemorative service for the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore and the service and sacrifice of all Australian prisoners of war at the national Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Ballarat
  • completing the Australian Poppy Garden in Zonnebeke, Belgium, part of the Passchendaele Memorial Gardens project
  • completing the refurbishment of the Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux, France
  • making significant progress in the construction of the Sir John Monash Centre and the production of its multimedia interpretive content.

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Priorities for 2017–18

DVA's priorities for commemorations in the year ahead are to:

  • deliver centenary commemorations for the Battle of Polygon Wood, in Belgium on 26 September 2017; the Battle of Beersheba, Sinai–Palestine campaign, in Israel on 31 October 2017; and the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, in France on Anzac Day 2018
  • deliver significant commemorative events in Australia as part of the Century of Service program
  • officially open the Sir John Monash Centre in France, in April 2018
  • complete the refurbishment of the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum in Thailand and ageing war graves in Papua New Guinea.

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