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ESO News: By the Left campaign unites community

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Women veterans marching together for By the Left on Anzac Day in Canberra.

The By the Left contingent in Canberra. Photo: Australian War Memorial

Thousands of current and ex-serving women around Australia marched together on Anzac Day to help broaden the public’s perception of what a veteran looks like.

They marched as part of the By the Left campaign, an initiative of members of the Women Veterans Network Australia which set out to prevent the wrongful questioning of veterans about their medals.

According to campaign organiser Kellie Dadds, women veterans, young veterans and veterans from culturally diverse backgrounds have over the years regularly found themselves accused of wearing a relative’s medals ‘on the wrong side’.

This questioning, often by fellow veterans, of the medals they have earned led some to stop attending commemorative events altogether.

A highly visible media campaign in the lead-up to Anzac Day and the mobilisation of women veterans all over the country on the day itself helped the campaign to make a difference, according to Ms Dadds.

‘Our observations of Anzac Day were less incidents of veterans being questioned about their medals, and more younger and female veterans participating in marches,’ she said.

‘This is wonderful news, as more veterans who are positively connected strengthens our veteran community.’

Ledy Rowe, a supporter of the By the Left campaign and a veteran who marched in Canberra, paid tribute to Ms Dadd’s hard work on the campaign.

‘The whole By the Left campaign and the wonderful work of Kellie Dadds have changed so many thousands of lives for the positive,’ Ms Rowe said.

‘The most positive outcome is that women who have never valued their service came out and marched and were proud of what they had done in the past.

‘That was wonderful to see.’

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