Peacekeeping stories to be told at the AWM
In September 1947, 4 Australians were deployed to Indonesia to act as UN-appointed military observers. They were the world’s first peacekeepers. Since then, not a day has passed without an Australian peacekeeper serving somewhere in the world. Australia has made an estimated 40,000 individual deployments to more than 60 peacekeeping operations in more than 30 countries and disputed zones.
By any measure, this is a story integral to Australian military history; but it remains relatively unknown by the general public. Many do not know of the hardships and dangers that Australian peacekeepers have faced, or their successes.
Australian War Memorial Director Matt Anderson is determined to ensure a permanent gallery space is created to speak to these stories. ‘We owe it to every veteran of every generation to have their service recognised at the Memorial,’ he says.
‘We need to tell the stories of our contemporary operations and the overlooked contributions Australian servicemen and servicewomen have made in the defence of peace and on humanitarian deployments.’
Dr David Sutton, a senior historian and curator working on the development of new peacekeeping galleries at the Australian War Memorial, is hoping to contribute to this change. ‘We are uncovering, through our research, amazing stories of Australian peacekeepers serving all around the world,’ he says.
‘Part of our challenge is that the Memorial has only been actively collecting peacekeeping material for a relatively short period of time. I encourage anyone who has served on a peacekeeping operation to get in touch by emailing: gallerydevelopment [at] awm.gov.au.’
It is anticipated that a permanent display will open in 2024.
Members of the Australian contingent to the United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC), February 1992.