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Commemorations

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The following section is a text version of the infographic.

Commemorations

Acknowledging and commemorating veterans' service and sacrifice, and promoting an increased understanding of Australia's wartime history.

In 2017–18:

  • Over 330,000 official commemorations were maintained in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
  • More than 8,000 visitors attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux, France
  • Over 8,700 people visited the Sir John Monash Centre in its first 30 days of operation
  • 440 commemorative grants were approved, totalling more than $3 million
Program 3.1
Provide and maintain war graves and post war commemorations
Acknowledges and commemorates the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations by providing and maintaining official commemorations, maintaining existing national memorials overseas and constructing new overseas memorials as determined by Government.
Program 3.2:
Deliver commemorative services
Acknowledge and commemorate the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations, through solemn and dignified commemorative services.

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Achievements in 2017–18

Official commemorations

The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) managed the ongoing care and maintenance of some 330,000 official commemorations, and provided more than 2,600 new official commemorations, in 2017–18.

The graves, plaques and niche placements that are part of the program of official commemorations are located in 2,000 commemorative sites around Australia, and within 75 war cemeteries and 10 gardens of remembrance in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Commemorations and war graves projects

Australia and the Pacific

In 2017–18, significant renovations and improvements were undertaken in war cemeteries across Australia. For example, stone works undertaken at the Perth War Cemetery will culminate in the replacement of the Cross of Sacrifice in late 2018.

The work was not limited to Australia. Commemorative sites in Papua New Guinea underwent botanical and other renovations, including the replacement of more than 2,800 individual grave plaques and pedestals at the Lae War Cemetery.

After significant consultation with the Royal Thai Armed Forces and the Government of Thailand, the design phases associated with the refurbishment of the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre concluded in late 2017 and refurbishment works began in February 2018. Konyu Cutting and Hellfire Pass remain open, and temporary interpretation is in place during the refurbishment, which is expected to finish in November 2018.

Thirty new films based on new and historical interviews were developed as part of Australia's contribution to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund's planned Education Center at the Wall, to be established on the National Mall in Washington DC. The films are available to anyone interested in the Australian experience of the Vietnam War and can be viewed on the Australia and the Vietnam War section of the Anzac Portal website.

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Europe

Now more than 20 years old, the Australian War Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London has recently undergone significant refurbishment. Central to the memorial is a water feature that washes water over the names of more than 3,000 Australian towns from which Australians enlisted to serve in the two world wars. The refurbishment included upgrades to the feature and plant and structural upgrades, all of which were completed prior to the 2018 Anzac Day service.

In 2017–18, the Naours caves were added to the French section of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front, with funding provided to protect the cave-wall signatures of more than 730 Australian soldiers who visited this tourist attraction during the First World War. Additional funding was provided to the nearby trail site of Vignacourt for further works to complete new visitor facilities at the Vignacourt 14–18 interpretive centre.

The Sir John Monash Centre near Villers-Bretonneux was officially opened on 24 April 2018. This cutting-edge multimedia centre reveals the Australian Western Front experience through a series of interactive media installations and immersive experiences. The SJMC App, downloaded on each visitor's personal mobile device, is a virtual tour guide for visitors to the centre, the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery and the Australian National Memorial.

Commemorative activities

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.

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 were commemorated as part of the Anzac Centenary Program 2014–2018 during 2017–18, including several international services and a series of national services and receptions.

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Overseas services

The international services planned and delivered by DVA during 2017–18 were provided with ceremonial support by personnel from the ADF's Federation Guard, which was responsible for providing the ceremonial catafalque party, band, bugler, and flag and wreath orderlies.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade managed the official representation arrangements and consular support to all Australian citizens who attended the services. The Australian Federal Police provided close liaison and support to the relevant authorities on security matters, and the Department of Home Affairs provided advice and support on security and safety risk assessment policies and guidelines.

The international services included centenary commemorations of:

  • the Battle of Polygon Wood, commemorated in Belgium with more than 800 attendees
  • the Battle of Beersheba in the Sinai–Palestine campaign, commemorated in Israel with more than 2,000 attendees
  • the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, commemorated at an Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux in France with more than 8,000 attendees.

DVA also conducted Anzac Day dawn services at Gallipoli in Turkey and supported 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.

Australian services

DVA is responsible for planning and delivering services and receptions in Australia as part of the Century of Service program. In 2017–18, services and receptions were held in Canberra. During this period, DVA supported 50 veterans and 33 next of kin of those killed in action to attend commemorative services, and delivered six commemorative events recognising thousands of veterans for their service and sacrifice.

Services held in Canberra included:

  • a series of 75th anniversaries marking the Battle of Milne Bay, the Battle of Kokoda and the Battle of the Beachheads, the Battle of El Alamein and the culmination of the North Africa campaigns, and the Battle of the Atlantic—DVA provided support to enable 50 veterans of these battles and their carers to attend commemorative events and receptions
  • the 70th anniversary of Australian peacekeeping, with the dedication of the newly constructed Australian Peacekeeping Memorial on Anzac Parade, which recognises the service of more than 1,000 peacekeepers
  • the 50th anniversary of the Battles at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral — DVA provided support to enable 33 next of kin of the 26 service personnel killed in action to attend the service, and 1,000 veterans and their guests to attend a reception.

DVA also provided grants to ex-service organisations and foundations to support their commemorative activities, including a grant of $24,979 to the 1RAR Association to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the 1RAR task group in Somalia; and four grants totalling $116,816 to ex-service organisations to support commemorative activities in addition to the national service in Canberra commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battles at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral.

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Grants programs

In 2017–18, the Department funded grants to support memorials and commemorations of Australian military service and sacrifice through three programs:

  • Armistice Centenary Grants Program
  • Overseas Privately Constructed Memorial Restoration Program
  • Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program.

The Department also funded selected discretionary grants approved by the Minister.

During the year, responsibility for the administration of grants under the Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program was transitioned to the Australian Government Community Grants Hub. More information on grants programs is provided in the Management and Accountability section of this annual report.

Community engagement

DVA produces educational resources and gathers and publishes stories and images of veterans' service to educate the community about Australia's wartime history.

In 2017–18, DVA undertook a number of community engagement projects, including the 2017 Remembrance Day and 2018 Anzac Day national mail-outs, the 2017 Anzac Day Schools' Awards, the Veterans' Stories oral history project, an animation of the large-format picture book Here they come: a day to remember, and a redesign of the Anzac Portal.

The following publications were added to the Anzac Portal:

  • Curiosity: stories of those who report during wartime
  • Comradeship: stories of friendship and recreation in wartime
  • Coming home: an investigation of the armistice and repatriation
  • Keeping the peace: investigating Australia's contribution to peacekeeping
  • World wide effort: Australia's peacekeepers.

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Priorities for 2018–19

In the year ahead:

  • the OAWG will
    • finalise the refurbishment of the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre
    • upgrade memorials in Israel, Malaysia and Crete
    • continue to improve the process whereby recently accepted war dead of the two world wars are identified as eligible for official commemoration
    • bed down the operations of the Sir John Monash Centre
    • promote the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front and the Sir John Monash Centre
  • the Department will
    • commemorate anniversaries, including the centenary of the Battle of Hamel, France; the centenary of the First World War Armistice; the 75th anniversary of Australian prisoners of war working on Hellfire Pass and completing the Thai–Burma railway; and the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice
    • support the Anzac Day Commemorative Service, Villers-Bretonneux, France, and the Anzac Day Dawn Service, Gallipoli, Turkey, in April 2019
    • scope the 2019–2020 Commemorations and War Graves Program
    • complete the delivery of the Armistice Centenary Grants Program and its transition to the Community Grants Hub.
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