Visiting a War Cemetery or Garden of Remembrance

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War Cemeteries and plots, and Gardens of Remembrance are open to all who wish to visit. In most cases, they are located within larger general cemeteries in capital cities and larger regional locations. Details of locations are here.

Visitors should check access arrangements and opening hours with cemeteries prior to their visit. 

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Visiting a War Cemetery or plot

The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG), acts as the agent of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to maintain 72 war cemeteries and individual war graves (in Australia and the region) for members of the Commonwealth forces, who died during the First and Second World Wars.  

Locations of War Cemeteries can be found here: www.cwgc.org

OAWG is also responsible for the Australian Government’s program of official commemoration, whereby those veterans who have died of causes attributable to their service are provided an official commemoration at their place of interment, upon their death. These commemorations may be at the site of interment chosen by the veteran or their family, or within a Garden of Remembrance.  

Locations of DVA’s Gardens of Remembrance and Military Cemeteries can be found here:  

https://www.dva.gov.au/recognition/office-australian-war-graves/contact-office-australian-war-graves

 

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Placing tributes at War Cemeteries and Plots and Gardens of Remembrance

The horticulture at all Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) and Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cemeteries and plots in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the region are seasonally curated. The planting of any other flowers, trees, shrubs or any other plant at any of these sites or at the site of any interment is prohibited.   

Fresh cut flowers (bunches or wreaths), may be placed on graves at any time.  The OAWG does not assume any responsibility for damaged or missing flower arrangements. In keeping with CWGC policy, flowers and wreaths will be removed and disposed of as soon as they have passed their best.  

OAWG asks that silk, plastic or other material floral arrangements or flags not be placed on or against graves. The dye in the materials used can permanently damage headstones and affect horticultural arrangements. These sorts of items will be removed and disposed of. 

Individual poppies, cornflowers and rosemary can be placed on bronze plaques and on the ground in front of headstones. These items will be removed and disposed of as soon as they have passed their best.  

Visitors are asked not to place any items in a cemetery or garden of remembrance that may be offensive or otherwise inconsistent with the dignity of the cemetery, or considered hazardous or potentially hazardous.  

To ensure the safety of visitors to cemeteries as well as OAWG staff and contractors, visitors are not to bring or leave alcohol, cigarettes, knives or sharp objects, statues, vigil lights, flags, glass objects of any nature, and any other type of commemorative item. 

Any items left at graves, within Gardens of Remembrance or atop or alongside grave covers or pedestals within war or military cemeteries will be removed and disposed of as soon as they have passed their best. 

Group Tributes  

OAWG receives many requests from schools and other community groups seeking permission to acknowledge or draw attention to the graves of veterans within civil and general cemeteries on days of remembrance, as part of a community commemoration program. Where the activity works within our care and maintenance policy, and operational guidelines, we seek to support and collaborate as we are able, and in ways that are consistent with maintaining the dignity of the cemetery and those at rest within them.   Such activities are necessarily limited to activities that focus on enabling quiet contemplation and remembrance.  

In order to maintain the dignity and solemnity of our war cemeteries, and so we can properly care and conserve them and each grave within them, OAWG does not allow the temporary or permanent planting or placement of flags upon or that are abutting any of our official commemorations.  Tributes including flags made of silk, cotton and many synthetics and plastics often contain dyes that can permanently stain headstones. Similarly, holes made in any location external to or around a headstone or lawn monument or a grave cover, in which a flag or other item can be placed, can eventuate in structural issues that will affect the integrity and appearance of the grave.  

As such tributes such as flags placed by individuals and/or organisations on or abutting an official commemoration will be removed by OAWG staff and disposed of. 

How can your group remember and commemorate? 

If you are seeking ways to commemorate men and women who have served, and died in the wars, conflicts and peace operations to which Australian has been committed, consider speaking with local ex-service organisations, cadet groups and other community based organisations about how you might participate in or assist with their commemorative activities. Are they having a commemorative service?  Are they visiting a cemetery?  Does your local cemetery have a monument or a flag pole where you might gather and take part in a small ceremony?  Have you considered having a service at your local cemetery or remembrance monument? DVA has resources that can assist you here, and they can be found on the Anzac Portal.

Wherever you are in Australia, in small towns and large cities, you can find a community memorial like honour boards, parks, gates, obelisks, statues or memorial walls.  

Some memorials commemorate individual veterans who have served. Many of them focus on a particular conflict or the role played by a specific group of veterans.  You will find some useful links that may help you to discover these places in your community on the Anzac Portal.

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The filming of or at War Cemeteries and Gardens of Remembrance

War Cemeteries and Plots and Gardens of Remembrance are sanctuaries designed and landscaped to enable families to commemorate loved ones and remember the service and sacrifice of those who have died in war or as a result of their war service.   

Each official commemoration, be it within a War Cemetery or Plot or a Garden or Remembrance remains the property of the Commonwealth. When a veteran or their family choose to accept an offer of official commemoration for their loved one, it is on the condition that the physical commemoration itself will not be altered in any way. Each commemoration is provided and cared for keeping with the principal that all eligible veterans are commemorated equally and uniformly.  All individual commemorations no matter their location, are treated the same, irrespective of rank, race, length of service, marital status or any other factor that may otherwise differentiate those at rest. 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) policy of commemoration, as adopted by the Australian Government, states that the remains of Commonwealth war dead should, as far as possible, be allowed to rest in peace. Dignity and respect for those at rest within the cemetery, and those who are commemorated within the Garden of Remembrance, has primacy in our decision making about access to and use of war cemeteries for filming purposes.  

In considering any request for access to our commemorative sites for the purposes of filming, we seek to ensure that the filmed product, and the way it is to be used and viewed is consistent with the overall objectives of the CWGC and the Australian Government’s commemorative program.    

To this end, anyone seeking to film on our sites must seek approval to do so. They will be required to provide details of the venture including dates, times and locations and the numbers of people attending.  We also ask for a synopsis and/or script that clearly provides the context for filming and an overall understanding of the end product, its purpose and its audience.  

Examining the information provided can take some time and consideration.  For this reason we ask that the application and supporting material is provided well before the requested filming date.  

Filming for commercial purposes will be not allowed. 

Permission to request must be made in writing to wargraves [at] dva.gov.au

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Filming of official Commemorations at other sites of commemoration

There are graves and memorials cared for and maintained by the Director of the Office of Australian War Graves under statutory arrangements, in general or civil cemeteries or crematoria.  Access to these sites must be arranged with the particular site.  OAWG asks that when filming the graves of individual all efforts are made to contact the next of kin or burial rite holder of the grave. Consideration should be given to talking to family about any narrative through which an individual and their service is discussed.

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