Recognising 76 years of Australian peacekeeping

In July 1947, with the embers of the Second World War still smouldering, the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) became a powder keg set to ignite as conflict erupted between the Dutch colonial government and its military and the Indonesian republicans.

News of a strong offensive incursion by the Netherlands (Operatie Product) into parts of Sumatra and East and West Java raised concerns on the world stage. Calls for intervention by many nations, including Australia, led the United Nations (UN) to call for a cease-fire to halt the Netherlands government’s invasion of Republican territory, and provide an opportunity for mediation.

Under the direction of the UN Security Council, Australia was one of six nations that sent a representative consul to Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1947. Indonesian Republicans also nominated Australia to assist with peacekeeping in the field.

On 14 September, Australians deployed into the field, and were joined by personnel from Belgium, Britain, China, France and the United States. These peacekeepers contributed to the UN's successful conflict resolution and the safe withdrawal of Dutch forces from Indonesia, heralding the beginning of UN peacekeeping.

Their skills, diplomacy and goodwill helped set a high benchmark for Australia's future peacekeeping operations.

For the past 76 years, from the dense jungles of the Congo to the sandy plains of the Sahara, through to our own region’s island neighbours, Australia has maintained a proud history of peacekeeping around the work, contributing to many international and regional peacekeeping operations. These operations have varied enormously, ranging from delivering humanitarian aid, supplies and medical relief, and assistance to war-torn communities to maintaining peace and the observation of cease-fires.

Today, on National Peacekeepers’ Day, we honour and remember the contribution of all Australian peacekeepers and commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who have lost their lives on peacekeeping operations.

Lest we forget.

Read more about Australia’s role in peacekeeping on our Anzac Portal.

Members of Australia's Federation Guard at the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial in Canberra

Members of Australia's Federation Guard lay wreaths at the National Commemorative Service to recognise the 75th anniversary of Australian involvement in international peacekeeping operations, held at the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial in Canberra