Repatriation Commission, Department of Veterans' Affairs, National Treatment Monitoring Commitee Annual Reports 2001 - 2002

Annual Reports Contents >> DVA Annual Report >> Outcome 3 >> Output 3.1—Commemorative activities

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Output 3.1—Commemorative activities


The Department administers the Government’s commemorations program, with the aim of honouring Australia’s servicemen and women and their contribution to the nation since Federation. The program supports a range of initiatives and projects, leading to a better understanding of Australia’s wartime heritage and the service of its veterans and greater community participation in commemorative activities. The program incorporates the following key elements:

  • commemorative events;
  • education;
  • community awareness; and
  • wartime heritage.

Commemorative events

HMAS Brisbane decommissioning

In August 2001, 30 Vietnam veterans attended ceremonies in August 2001 in honour of the destroyer HMAS Brisbane, which was given freedom of entry to the City of Brisbane in honour of its service. The veterans were guests of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. HMAS Brisbane, which was commissioned in 1967 and decommissioned in October 2001, saw active service in Vietnam in 1969 and 1971 and in the Gulf War from 1990–91.

Australian Hellenic Memorial, Melbourne

The Australian Hellenic Memorial in the King’s Domain, Melbourne, was unveiled by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Danna Vale MP, on 2 September 2001. The Australian Hellenic Foundation was instrumental in the conception of and fund-raising for this memorial, which honours the Australian and Greek men and women who served in the Greek campaign, and the strong relationship forged between Australia and Greece during WWII. A senior officer from the Hellenic Armed Services and seven members of the Presidential Guard travelled from Greece to attend the dedication ceremony.

HMAS Rankin

The last of the Royal Australian Navy’s six Collins Class submarines, HMAS Rankin, was launched in South Australia on 7 November 2001. Rankin was named in honour of Lieutenant Commander Rankin who, during an attack by the Japanese, was killed by a salvo of shells that struck the bridge of the HMAS Yarra shortly after he had given the order to abandon ship on 4 March 1942. Thirteen of the crew, many seriously wounded, were rescued. At the request of the Department of Defence, DVA arranged for three surviving crew members of the Yarra, a former crew member from the Dutch submarine K II which helped rescue Yarra survivors and a New Zealand former prisoner of war who witnessed the Yarra’s final battle, to participate in the launch.

Fall of Singapore

In February 2002, the Minister Vale led a party of 26 veterans and war widows to Singapore and Malaysia to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Malayan campaign and the Fall of Singapore. The Opposition spokesman on Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Mark Bishop, the RSL National President, Major-General Peter Phillips, and the National Chairman of the Australian Veterans & Defence Services Council, Rear-Admiral Guy Griffiths, also participated in the mission at the invitation of the Minister.

The mission party conducted memorial services at Parit Sulong in Malaysia and Changi Chapel and Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore, in honour of their fallen mates and all who served. The veterans and war widows also attended a ceremony at Singapore’s Beach Road Memorial Park to commemorate the civilians who died and visited sites of wartime significance to Australia. The Department implemented a strategic communication campaign to promote the mission, which resulted in excellent media coverage, and market research showed a significant increase in public awareness of the mission and its goals. The Department also published a commemorative history book, A Bitter Fate, which is available for purchase from the Australian War Memorial.

Bombing of Darwin

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin and several airfields in the Northern Territory, a grant of $25 000 was provided to the Darwin City Council to support events held in Darwin and at the Adelaide River War Cemetery on 18 and 19 February 2002. Minister Vale laid a wreath at the 60th anniversary commemorative service at the Darwin Cenotaph, attended the USS Peary Gun Memorial Commemorative Service and opened the new Darwin Garden of Remembrance (see Output 3.2, page 99).

The Department produced a commemorative booklet, Darwin and the Northern Territory 1942–1945, which was distributed to participants and is available for purchase from the Australian War Memorial.

Centenary of the Anglo Boer War

The Australian Government was invited to send a military contingent and contribute an official plaque for commemorative events in South Africa to mark the centenary of the signing of the peace declaration of the Anglo Boer War on 1 June 1902. The Department arranged for the plaque that was unveiled at the rededicated Anglo Boer War memorial in Johannesburg on 1 June 2002. A contingent of 14 Australian Defence Force personnel participated in the ceremonies. Information about the commemorative events and the Commonwealth of Australia plaque was posted on the Department’s website.

WWII attacks on Sydney and Newcastle

Commemorative events to mark the 60th anniversary of the Japanese submarine attacks on Sydney and Newcastle were held on 31 May and 1 June 2002. Assistance to the organisers of these events was provided under the Department’s commemorative program. The Department also produced a commemorative booklet, No Cause for Alarm, that was distributed to participants, and an associated display. The booklet is available for purchase from the Australian War Memorial.

Greece and Crete

A senior Greek military officer visited Australia and New Zealand in May 2002 for the annual commemoration of the Battles of Greece and Crete. Vice Admiral Konstantinos Nikitiadis HN, Deputy Chief of the National Defense General Staff, visited Sydney, Wellington, Melbourne and Canberra over a period of 15 days. The Department worked closely with the Greek Embassy and with Greek and Cretan organisations to arrange the itinerary, and met the accommodation and ground transport costs in Australia.

The Vice Admiral met with the Minister and senior Defence officers and participated in wreath-laying ceremonies in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as attending a number of functions and events organised by the local Greek and Cretan communities.


The commemorations education program encourages teachers and students at primary and secondary school level to undertake appropriate studies or activities that recognise the service and sacrifice of Australia’s servicemen and women in time of wars and conflicts. Students are led to appreciate the debt that is owed to Australia’s veterans in helping preserve the freedom the nation enjoys today.

The Department provides to all schools education materials that are linked to national curricula objectives, mainly in the subject areas of studies of society and environment and history. DVA also helps equip teachers to develop their own lesson materials by providing speakers or displays at major teacher conferences.

Education resources

In November 2001, through a Request for Tender process, the Department established a panel of education service providers that may be contracted to develop specific education resource materials. The first use of the panel was for the production of the education resource for Anzac Day 2002 (see below).

The Department has established a strong record of developing and distributing high-quality education resource kits to Australian schools. In 2001–02 the Department distributed two major education resources.

The Remembrance Day 2001 Education Resource: We Remember was distributed to all primary schools (approximately 7500) in Australia. It contained a ‘big book’ Remembrance Day story, teachers’ guides and student activities. The book was targeted at lower primary school students and is believed to be the first readily available suitable material for this age group.

The Anzac Day 2002 Education Resource: Defence of Australia contained information about Australia’s involvement in World War II and focuses largely on the 60th anniversary events such as the bombing of Darwin and the midget submarine raid on Sydney as well as the Fall of Singapore and the battles in Papua and New Guinea in 1942. A compilation video from the relevant episodes of the Australians at War documentary series, a teachers’ guide, student activities and posters were designed to raise awareness of these events and the time when war was on Australia’s doorstep.

Other educational activities

The Department assists a range of education journals targeted at teachers or students with sponsorship or provision of articles and photographs.

The Buzz for Kids school newspaper was assisted through sponsorship for five targeted articles related to commemoration of Australian wartime history. These were: Remembrance Day—11 November; A Look at the Lovetts (an indigenous family with a long military history background); Women in War—Not Just Nurses; April 25 is Anzac Day; and The Vietnam War.

Scholastic Australia’s Classroom magazine, aimed at teachers of primary school children, featured an article produced by the Department, titled Anzac Day: Lessons with veterans, in its February 2002 issue. The article focused on ways to include veterans in class activities. Classroom reaches more than 30 000 teachers across Australia.

Studies magazine, which is aimed at lower secondary students, was sponsored for two articles, one on women at war in the July 2001 issue and one on the defence of Australia 1942 in the September 2001 issue. Studies is distributed to the more than 3500 secondary schools in Australia.

Sponsorship was provided to the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria for Issue 1, 2002, of its journal, Agora, which focused on the 60th anniversary of the defence of Australia. Earlier, in its Issue 3, 2001, Agora carried a feature sponsored by the Department on classroom activities on the Vietnam War.

The History Teachers’ Association of Queensland was sponsored for an article titled The Yanks were here! American presence in Australia during WWII in its November 2001 issue of The History Teacher and a major feature in its May 2002 issue on the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Presentations and workshops were given at the History Teachers’ Associations of Victoria and South Australia conferences and the National History Teacher’s Association conference held in Canberra in October 2001, to broaden awareness of the Federal Government’s commemorations program.

School competitions

The Department contracted the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria to administer the Anzac Day Schools’ Activities Awards. This competition gives schools the opportunity to demonstrate how they commemorated Anzac Day and encourages students to link the traditional form of the Anzac Day ceremony with creative ideas of their own. A total of 117 entries was received, about the same as in the previous year, but the quality of the entries was impressive, with several utilising video and computer technology in their presentations. All reflected a high degree of enthusiasm in their schools for commemorating Anzac Day and the awards represent an important feedback mechanism for monitoring interest in these commemorative events in schools.

The Department and the Australian War Memorial jointly sponsored a special category for wartime history within the National History Challenge (NHC), a research-based competition for students in Years 5 to 12. The national winner was Joshua Brown of Melrose High School, ACT, for his essay on his grandfather who served in the Australian Imperial Force during World War II and his grandmother who stayed at home. Of the 1786 entries received in the seven special categories of the NHC, 454 were in the wartime history section. More than 4900 entries for the NHC were received a small increase on the previous year’s figure.

The Department and the Australian War Memorial also were closely involved with the Simpson Prize, an essay-based competition commissioned by the Department of Education, Science and Training for Year 9 and 10 students, which focuses on the Anzac tradition. State winners of the competition receive a trip to Turkey to attend the Anzac Day ceremonies at Gallipoli.

Community awareness

Remembrance Day

Australians participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies held in every State and Territory and in more than 30 countries around the world. Media coverage of the Australian ceremonies was excellent and focused on increased community awareness of the significance of November 11.

Anzac Day

Anzac Day 2002 had special meaning for Australians as the year included the 60th anniversary of many key World War II events, such as the Fall of Singapore, the bombing of northern Australia, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Kokoda Track campaign, the Battle of Milne Bay, and the battles at the beachheads of Gona, Buna and Sanananda.

The excellent media coverage of these commemorative events contributed to the growing profile of Anzac Day in Australia. Increasing numbers of people, particularly young Australians, are attending services on Anzac Day. Across the world, 25 April was commemorated in more than 50 countries, including Turkey, where approximately 12 000 people attended the Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site in Gallipoli.

The Governor-General and the Deputy Prime Minister attended the Dawn Service at Gallipoli and the Prime Minister attended the national Anzac Day ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs represented the Prime Minister at the Anzac Day service in Sydney. The former Minister, Bruce Scott, represented Minister Vale at Anzac Day ceremonies in Belgium and France.

Australians at War

The eight-part television documentary series, Australians at War, commissioned by the Federal Government through DVA in cooperation with the Australian War Memorial, was broadcast on the ABC from 25 April to 20 June 2001. Australians at War received four major awards during 2001–02.

Australians at War won the Logie for the most outstanding documentary or documentary series at the Logie Awards presentation in April 2002. The Logie awards are regarded as the premier television industry award in Australia.

Roger Mason, series composer, received a Golden Manuscript award in March 2002. The Golden Manuscript awards are sponsored by the ABC and recognise significant achievement in composing.

In September 2001, Geoff Burton shared the public broadcast documentary category award for Episode One at the AWGIEs, the Australian Writers’ Guild’s annual awards for excellence in screen, television, stage and radio writing.

Australians at War also won the award at the 45th annual Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of the Arts for best television series.

The Australians at War website,, continued to attract high levels of interest from the community, with most months recording more than a half a million hits, representing about 13 000 individual sessions. More personal stories, drawn from material offered under The Great Search, part of the research for the television series, were added to the website, making it an even more useful resource for researchers and the community, especially school students.

Gallipoli book

In April 2002, the Minister launched Gallipoli 1915, published by ABC Books and written by Dr Richard Reid, the Department’s historian. The book features 250 images relating to the experience of the Gallipoli campaign and an interpretative commentary and selected contemporary quotations. The majority of these previously unpublished photographs came from the collections of the Australian War Memorial, but the book also included fresh and unusual material from the National Library of Australia, the National Archives of Australia and the State Library of New South Wales.

Centenary Medal

On 28 December 2001, the Prime Minister announced the creation of the Centenary Medal, to commemorate the Centenary of Federation and the contribution made to Australian society and government by its citizens.

Australia’s last surviving Gallipoli veteran, Alec Campbell, had the honour of being presented with the first Centenary Medal on 22 February 2002. Eight veterans and war widows were among the 20 centenarians presented with the Centenary Medal by the Governor-General at Admiralty House, Sydney, on 7 May 2002.

WWI veterans

During 2001–02 eight Australian World War I veterans passed away, leaving just 14 known such veterans alive at 30 June 2002. Of these, four reside in NSW, two each in Victoria and Queensland, one in South Australia, four in Western Australia, and one in Tasmania.

Three World War I veterans were honoured by State Funerals. In September 2001, the New South Wales Government held a State Funeral in honour of well-known Sydney veteran, Charlie Mance. In May 2002, the Victorian Government held a State Funeral for Australia’s oldest veteran, Jack Lockett, who died aged 111.

In May 2002, the Commonwealth Government held a State Funeral for Alec Campbell, the last surviving veteran of the Gallipoli campaign. Mr Campbell’s passing prompted extensive media coverage and enormous public interest, highlighting the renewed respect held by Australians for their wartime heritage. As well as the traditional flying of flags at half-mast, Mr Campbell’s funeral was marked by a minute’s silence at numerous locations around the country.

Grants—Local Commemorative Activities Fund

The Department supports commemorative projects at the national level through the Commemorative Activities Program (CAP) and at the community level through the Local Commemorative Activities Fund (LCAF). In 2001–02, 11 projects received CAP funding totalling $148 700. LCAF grants totalling $349 574 were provided to 172 projects.

Wartime heritage

Grants—Regional War Memorials Project

The Department provides assistance through the Regional War Memorials Project (RWMP) for the restoration and updating of community memorials or for the establishment of new memorials where none exist. The RWMP assists communities in all States and Territories, particularly in regional and remote areas. Communities around Australia received 296 RWMP grants in 2001–02, totalling $733 043.

Museums initiative

The Department seeks to raise awareness of the significance of artefacts that remind Australians of the sacrifice and service of their countrymen and women in wartime. The Department works closely with the museums and historical society sector to support their efforts to display, conserve and assist the public recognise and care for these objects.

The Department co-sponsored the Museums’ Australia National Conference in March 2002 in Adelaide which was attended by 387 delegates representing over 185 organisations. The Department also co-sponsored the South Australia History Conference held in Adelaide May 2002 and also participated in a workshop for regional groups, ‘Forming Partnerships’, in Hay, NSW, in April 2002.

The Department aims to encourage local councils, museums and historical societies to form project partnerships with veterans and ESOs to exhibit and promote wartime heritage in the community.

HMAS Sydney Memorial

Australia’s greatest maritime disaster, the sinking of HMAS Sydney and loss of its company of 645 on 19 November 1941, was commemorated by the construction of a major memorial at Geraldton in Western Australia. The City of Geraldton constructed the memorial with support from local community groups. The Federal Government donated $200 000 to the memorial appeal. The memorial was dedicated on 19 November 2001, the 60th anniversary of the Sydney’s sinking.

Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

The Department is responsible for administering the $5 million Federation Fund grant for the redevelopment of the undercroft of the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne. The redevelopment will include gallery space, an education centre and a display area. In April 2002, the Victorian Government announced a $2 million grant towards the project. Minister Vale participated in the sod-turning ceremony on 24 April 2002. The project is due to be completed by Anzac Day 2003.

Tasmania VC Memorial

In late 2001, Minister Vale approved a grant of $100 000 towards the construction of a Victoria Cross Memorial at the Hobart Cenotaph, to commemorate the Tasmanians who have won Australia’s highest decoration for valour. The tripartite funding arrangement also includes contributions of $50 000 each from the Tasmanian Government and the Hobart City Council. The Tasmanian Branch of the RSL has played a major role in the development of the project. Construction was due to commence in July 2002 and the memorial is scheduled to be completed by Remembrance Day 2002.

Shrine of Remembrance, Brisbane

The Shrine of Remembrance in Anzac Square, Brisbane, was constructed in 1930 and is now in urgent need of restoration, mainly as a result of water damage. The Queensland Government plans to refurbish the Shrine to preserve its unique character as a focus for the commemoration of the service and sacrifice of the people of Queensland in the defence of Australia. The Federal Government has approved funding of up to $300 000 to match the Queensland Government’s contribution towards restoration.

Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial, Ballarat

The Ballarat Sub-branch of the Returned & Services League of Australia has undertaken a project to establish a major memorial in Ballarat to the more than 30 000 Australians taken prisoner by the enemy in wars and conflicts since federation. At the launch of the memorial appeal in 1999, the Federal Government provided a grant of $50 000 towards the cost of the memorial’s construction. A further grant of $150 000 was announced in August 2001. The memorial will be constructed in two stages. The Federal Government’s grant of $200 000 will assist with the cost of constructing stage one.

RAAF National Memorial

The Royal Australian Air Force National Memorial on Anzac Parade, Canberra, was constructed in 1973 to symbolise the spirit of the RAAF and the service and sacrifice of its members since its formation in 1921. It is being redeveloped to make it more readily identifiable as a symbol of the RAAF, in keeping with the design of more recent memorials on Anzac Parade. The Federal Government has provided $250 000 towards the appeal for the memorial’s redevelopment, and the fund raising target for the project has now been met. Construction is under way and a dedication service is planned for 1 November 2002.

‘Sharing their Legacy’

The Department’s $60 000 partnership with the History Trust of South Australia, in the ‘Sharing Their Legacy’ project initiated in 2000, reached a milestone in December 2001, with 17 projects and exhibitions exploring and promoting wartime experiences in the community opening throughout metropolitan and rural South Australia. The projects involved co-operation between veterans, schools, local historical societies and museums.

In May 2002, Minister Vale approved $10 150 for ‘An Enduring Legacy’ in South Australia, a project using three tools: a conference, a website, and a dedicated special edition of Community History, to assist further co-operative projects. These projects will raise the awareness of the importance of veterans’ wartime experiences and community wartime history to the community’s identity. The projects will be finalised in the second half of 2003.

The People’s Voice

The People’s Voice website was launched on 8 November 2000. The Department worked closely with ScreenSound Australia on this Centenary of Federation project, which aims to show how all Australians have contributed to building the nation in times of war and peace. Working closely with ScreenSound Australia and local communities the Department has met its target of making available online the wartime heritage stories of 89 communities. The site’s address is

WWII Nominal Roll

During the year, work progressed on the development of a nominal roll of those who served in Australia’s Defence Forces and Merchant Navy during World War II. The Department’s contractor, Pickfords Records and Information Managers, completed the data collection of RAAF and RAN service dossiers, while the Army data collection was expected to be completed in early 2002–03. The data will be displayed on the World War II Nominal Roll Internet website. It is anticipated that the website will be available to the public in late 2002. When implemented, the website will contain information about some one million individuals who served in World War II.

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