Official commemoration consists of provision of an official memorial at either the site of interment or by placement of a plaque only in an official Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) Garden of Remembrance. The memorial is provided and maintained in perpetuity by the OAWG for veterans of the Australian armed forces who die in war or conflict, or eligible veterans who die after a war or conflict of causes related to their service in that war or conflict. In this context war or conflict means service in a World War or Operational, Peacekeeping, 'Warlike' or 'Non-Warlike' service after World War II.
The following groups of Australian veterans are eligible for official commemoration:
- A member of the Australian Defence Force who died whilst on War Service, Operational Service, Peacekeeping Service or 'Warlike' or 'Non-Warlike' Service
- A veteran whose death has been accepted by the Repatriation Commission or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission as being due to service in war or conflict
- A veteran in receipt of a Special Rate (T&PI) Pension, an Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA), a Temporary Special Rate Pension (TSR or T&TI) or an Intermediate Rate Pension (INT) at the time of death and where the veteran has seen service in a war or conflict
- A veteran who is a multiple amputee as defined in Section 27.1 of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) on maximum pension rate where service in a war or conflict has been proven
- An ex-prisoner of war; or
- A Victoria Cross recipient.
Eligibility is determined by the Department of Veterans' Affairs and not by the OAWG. The section within each DVA office that processes bereavement payments notifies the OAWG of a veteran's eligibility.
If a veteran is not automatically eligible, but you believe that the death is attributable to their war service, an application can be made by writing to the Deputy Commissioner, DVA, at GPO Box 9998 Brisbane QLD 4001 or email primary.claims [at] dva.gov.au, requesting that the death be investigated as war related. If the application is successful, the veteran will then become eligible for official commemoration.
If you have a question about eligibility, please direct your enquiry in writing to your nearest DVA or VAN office.
DVA must be notified when a veteran dies. If the veteran is eligible for a post-war official commemoration, DVA will contact OAWG. DVA will also contact the Office if the death of the veteran is accepted as being war related.
The OAWG will send a form to the next of kin asking which type of memorial they would like. The OAWG will then arrange for the memorial to be placed.
The OAWG provides standard memorials in a:
- Cemetery or lawn cemetery
- Office of Australian War Graves Garden of Remembrance
In order to ensure that all veterans are commemorated equally and uniformly, all memorials provided by the Office:
- Are uniform in design for each type of memorial and to the area of the particular cemetery where the memorial is to be placed
- Remain the property of the OAWG
- May not be altered or amended in any way
The OAWG may only provide a standard memorial. It should be noted that the grave must be completely bare of all monumental work such as kerbing, plaques, and headstones before the Office can provide an official memorial.
In a cemetery other than a lawn cemetery, the OAWG provides a standard concrete memorial, consisting of kerbing, infill, headstone and bronze plaque.
In a lawn cemetery, depending on cemetery regulations, a bronze plaque can usually be provided. The OAWG provides a single plaque only for the eligible veteran.
Bronze plaques for cemetery memorials are inscribed with the Service emblem, initials and surname, Service details, date of death, age of the veteran and an optional personal message and/or religious emblem.
The grave of a veteran in a civil cemetery may be re-opened for the further burials — for example, widow, family member. Where a full grave cover has been provided, the OAWG will restore the grave to its original condition and the family may then place a plaque for the additional burial on the infill area, in the centre or towards the foot of the grave.
The cemetery is responsible for the restoration of the grave in lawn areas. An additional plaque may be placed if the lawn cemetery authorities permit. The veteran's plaque cannot be moved or changed in any way. Please contact the OAWG to discuss your options.
The OAWG will arrange for the placement of the ashes in a wall niche sealed with the official bronze plaque, or in a garden bed.
If the ashes have been scattered or are to be retained by the family, an OAWG Garden of Remembrance memorial only is provided.
Crematorium plaques do not contain a personal message or religious emblem.
A Garden of Remembrance memorial is provided as an alternative commemoration when the OAWG is either unable or not requested to provide official commemoration at the place of burial or cremation. The Garden of Remembrance memorial is a bronze plaque placed on a wall in a garden setting. Garden of Remembrance plaques do not contain a personal message or religious emblem.
Gardens of Remembrance have been established in each State and Territory capital city, Townsville and Launceston. Many are located adjacent to a major war cemetery.
For those who live some distance from a Garden of Remembrance, the OAWG will provide a photograph of the commemoration, upon request, free of charge. See ‘More Information' for contact details.
In some States, tenure (lease of an interment site for a fixed period) may apply in cemeteries and crematoriums. It is the responsibility of the family or estate to renew the tenure of these sites when it becomes due. If the tenure is not renewed, and the site is resumed, the official commemoration will be transferred to an OAWG Garden of Remembrance.
The length of time to arrange a memorial will depend on the type of memorial requested and the location in which the memorial is to be placed.
On average, memorials are completed within the following timeframes, from the date the completed form is received by the OAWG:
|Type of Memorial
|Full grave cover
|Garden of Remembrance
Full grave covers may take longer due to individual cemetery regulations or the remote location of the cemetery.
The OAWG maintains official memorials and have depots located in each State capital city, Townsville, Adelaide River near Darwin and at Launceston, Tasmania.
In addition to maintaining post-war commemorations, the OAWG also maintains, on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 72 war cemeteries in Australia as well as three war cemeteries in Papua New Guinea. It also maintains individual war graves in civil cemeteries.
Maintenance of official memorials is undertaken as often as resources permit but at least once a year except for remote areas which are visited as frequently as possible.
- Return the completed form promptly.
- Ensure the information about the deceased veteran is correct.
- Ensure the form is correctly signed.
View contact information for the OAWG.