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Acknowledging and commemorating veterans’ service and sacrifice and promoting an increased understanding of Australia’s wartime history.

Infographic summarising key facts about commemorative work in 2018–19; 3,339 visitors attended the Anzac Day Dawn Services at Villers-Bretonneux and Gallipoli. 49,586 people visited the Sir John Monash Centre. more than 3,400 visitors attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery and Isurava Memorial, Papua New Guinea. 983 commemorative grants were approved, totalling $8,083,210.

Achievements 2018–19

Successful completion of the Anzac Centenary commemorations

The Anzac Centenary Program marked 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War. The program commemorated those who have served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations by promoting recognition of service and sacrifice. It provided recognition, respect and acknowledgement to all Australian veterans, supporting DVA’s objectives relating to veteran health and wellbeing.

In 2018 the program was successfully concluded with the 100th anniversary of Armistice, commemorated at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux in France.

For more information on the Anzac Centenary, see the vignette Anzac Centenary period concludes.

Community engagement projects and publications

DVA produces educational resources and gathers and publishes stories and images of veterans’ service to educate the community about Australia’s wartime history.

In 2018–19 DVA undertook a number of community engagement projects to increase awareness and appreciation of the service and sacrifice of service men and women:

  • 2018 Remembrance Day and 2019 Anzac Day national mail-outs—DVA distributed historical and educational resources to over 17,000 community groups, schools and RSLs around Australia
  • 2018 Anzac Day Schools’ Awards—this annual competition encourages the study of wartime history in primary and secondary schools through learning activities based on the commemoration of Australian service men and women on Anzac Day. The competition is open to all schools around Australia, with prizes at national, state and special category levels
  • 2019 commemorative calendar—DVA produces a commemorative calendar each year. ‘Homecoming’ was the 2019 theme, with photographs reflecting on the moment when service personnel returned home from theatres of war and conflict, reunited with their loved ones and contemplated their future lives
  • Reflections: capturing veterans’ stories—this new publication focuses on the importance of gathering oral histories.

Three new publications were added to the Anzac Portal:

  • Candour: stories in the words of those who served 1914–1918
  • Reflections: capturing veterans’ stories
  • Great debates: the Anzac legend—an inquiry-based learning activity to support debate around the ‘Anzac legend’.

We conducted and recorded oral history interviews with veterans, created exhibition materials for the refurbishment of the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre, and digitised a number of historical Australian photographs and manuscripts held in overseas archives to increase their accessibility for the Australian community. We also created educational and awareness-raising products in support of DVA’s major national and international commemorative services, including speeches, historical essays and audio-visual programs.

Preservation of war graves and memorials

The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) cares for and maintains the official commemorations of more than 334,000 Australian service men and women in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. This involves more than 2,000 sites around Australia, including 72 war cemeteries and 10 Gardens of Remembrance. In 2018–19 OAWG provided official commemorations for 2,405 Australian veterans.

The Unmarked Graves of First World War Veterans program was launched in February 2019. It assists individuals and associations by providing funding to assist in marking an unmarked grave. The program has been well received by the Australian community. To date, more than 70 graves have been identified and the process of marking them has commenced.

On 12 December 2018 the refurbished Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre in Thailand was reopened by the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, the Hon Darren Chester MP. For more information on the refurbishment of the centre, see the vignette Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre refurbishment.

The OAWG is developing a strengthened approach to infrastructure asset management for the suite of Australian memorials located around the world. As part of this, there will be a structured preventative maintenance program to guide future investment which considers the existing condition of memorials, climatic circumstances, investment to date and government priorities. Refurbishment of the memorial in Crete, Greece, will be prioritised in accordance with the preventative maintenance program.

The Sir John Monash Centre near Villers-Bretonneux, France, reveals the Australian Western Front experience through a series of interactive media installations and immersive experiences. The centre, which opened in April 2018, seeks to educate a new audience about Australia’s early role in international affairs and to share the stories of ordinary Australians doing extraordinary things on the battlefields of the Western Front.

Following a highly successful first year of operation, the Sir John Monash Centre has developed a manual of operating procedures that governs the centre’s key operations. This will assist in understanding the ongoing operational requirements of the centre following the Anzac Centenary 2014–2018 and ensuring its continued success as a centrepiece of commemoration with the support and cooperation of local communities, businesses and other stakeholders.

Throughout 2018–19 DVA utilised different options to promote the Australian Remembrance Trail and the Sir John Monash Centre by establishing new partnerships with other nations and strengthening existing partnerships while continuing to publish multiple articles on both the Remembrance Trail and the centre in magazines, tourism brochures and social media platforms.

Commemoration activities

Services in Australia and overseas

In 2018–19 successful international services were conducted to commemorate:

  • the Battle of Hamel, commemorated at the Australian Corps Memorial at Le Hamel in France
  • Remembrance Day, 100th anniversary of Armistice, commemorated at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux in France
  • the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, commemorated at an Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux in France
  • the Gallipoli campaign, commemorated at an Anzac Day Dawn Service in Turkey.

Successful services conducted in Australia included commemorations of:

  • the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, commemorated at the Australian National Korean War Memorial, Anzac Parade, in Canberra
  • the 75th anniversary of Australian work on Hellfire Pass and the completion of the Burma–Thailand Railway, commemorated at the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial at Ballarat in Victoria
  • the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba, commemorated at the Vietnam Forces National Memorial, Anzac Parade, in Canberra.

All services were conducted in a safe, respectful and dignified manner befitting the service and sacrifice of Australia’s service personnel.

International Anzac Day services

In 2018–19 DVA successfully conducted Anzac Day Dawn Services at Gallipoli in Turkey and Villers-Bretonneux in France; and supported Anzac Day services at other locations, including Hellfire Pass in Thailand, Sandakan in Malaysia, and Post Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery in Papua New Guinea. For more information about Anzac Day services, see the vignette Anzac Centenary period concludes.

Armistice Centenary Grants Program

The Armistice Centenary Grants Program provided $7.4 million in funding for 779 projects throughout the country to commemorate the Centenary of Armistice. All projects have been transitioned to the Community Grants Hub for management and acquittal and all $7.4 million in payments have been made to the applicants. The Armistice Centenary Grants Program enhanced community awareness of Australia’s military heritage and included projects that will leave an enduring memorial to the legacy of service and sacrifice of Australia’s military personnel.