Centenary Watch: March 2014

Update 19 March 2014: Minister on veterans’ mental health and centenary spend

[Links checked 26 October 2017 and some were found to be broken, due to removal of material from websites or simply the passage of time. Honest History may be able to help users track down resources. Please contact admin@honesthistory.net.au. HH]

Minister Ronaldson announced on 13 March revamping of the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council as the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Veterans’ Mental Health. The Minister also noted the government annually spends $166 million on dedicated mental health services for veterans and their families, pledged reduced processing times for mental health claims and announced reshaping of departmental consultative arrangements to focus more sharply on the needs of younger veterans.

Regarding the Anzac centenary, the Minister noted recent discussion of expenditure on commemoration and compared the budgeted $145 million over the next four years with total portfolio spending of over $50 billion over that period. The Minister concluded:

The Centenary of Anzac must be so much more than simply building or restoration of old memorials. This is important, but it is not the end game. By 2018, we must have left a legacy in the minds of younger Australians, in particular, about the service and sacrifice of past generations, of the responsibilities to care for those who have defend our rights and way of life.

In addition to understanding when we fought, where we fought and the values we fought for, the Centenary must teach a generation of younger Australians about our collective obligation to care for those who serve their nation at their nation’s request. If we do nothing else, then we must ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, particularly the appalling manner in which Vietnam veterans were treated upon their return.

I hope we are entering a period of peace. But the peace dividend must not be an abrogation of our national responsibility to care for those who serve and served in the Australian Defence Force. The numbers of veterans in the future may be smaller, but our resolve to care for them and their families must not be diminished. This is what I hope the Centenary of Anzac can achieve.

Update 15 March 2014: Commemoration in the United Kingdom

Note our separate page, an article dated November 2013 with some updates since.

Update 14 March 2014: ABC Anzac centenary programs

An announcement by the ABC’s Managing Director of centenary-related programming.

Update 12 March 2014: Albany commemoration

Minister talks on ABC Local Radio about plans for Albany re-enactment of first convoys in 1914.

Update 12 March 2014: Commonwealth changes, Victorian plans, No Glory and (yes) Germany

The Minister for the Anzac Centenary, Senator Ronaldson, has announced the winding up of the twenty-member Anzac Centenary Advisory Board (ACAB). The new, tighter set up is an Anzac Centenary Public Fund Board, chaired by former Liberal Senator and ACT Chief Minister, Gary Humphries, with Con (Australia Remembers 1995) Sciacca, former Veterans’ Affairs Minister, as his deputy, plus Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, former Chair of the ACAB, and the secretaries of DVA, Simon Lewis, and the Department of Finance, David Tune, as members.

The new Board is ‘to assess projects and make recommendations to the Government for project funding from the Anzac Centenary Public Fund‘. Is tighter control of funding on the agenda? The appointment of Mr Tune is of interest but is appropriate in view of the accountability aspects associated with the collection of monies through the Fund.

The new (Humphries) Board is to advise the Minister on the disbursement of funds coming in from the public appeal. The businessman Lindsay Fox is still actively seeking corporate donations to the Public Fund. There have been commitments from some large corporates. It has not been decided whether or when the Minister will make an announcement about how much is in the Fund.

Money raised through the Fund will support the Centenary of Anzac Travelling Exhibition and major commemorative projects in each of the States and Territories. Implementation of funding once recommended and approved is a matter for DVA in the commemorations area under First Assistant Secretary MAJGEN Dave Chalmers. This area of DVA also advises the Minister on electorate funding proposals under the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program but that area of administration is completely separate from the administration of the Public Fund.

The old (Houston) Board is definitely wound up. When the Board was established it was not clear whether it would continue through the centenary commemoration implementation stage. (Honest History had noted the Board’s Terms of Reference were ambivalent as to whether it was to continue or to stop once the broad parameters had been set.) There had been consideration of amending the Terms of Reference but the decision was made that it was easier to set up a new Board.

Meanwhile, the ACAB website shows that only 12 electorates have so far received grants under the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program, although applications do not close till the end of May.

Victoria had an Anzac Centenary Seminar at which their Minister announced community grants for projects worth between $20 000 and $100 000. We need time to get our heads around this one; more later. Victoria has also implemented an Anzac Commemorative Naming Project. Again, as we grew up not far from Haig, Foch and Kitchener Streets, we need time to allow this one to sink in; again, more later.

In the home of Empire, meanwhile, No Glory in War continued its sophisticated web-based and outreach campaign for a more balanced form of war commemoration and, in the heart of another former Empire, Chancellor Merkel’s government decided Germany would spend only €4.5 million on commemorating the war to end wars.

David Stephens

Update 11 March 2014: our correspondent in Los Angeles summarises current Anzac centenary film and TV projects

Australian Gallipoli Projects came to us from LA via an Australian colleague and is put together from industry sources like Screen Australia, Film Victoria, IMDb, Studio System, etc. There is almost certainly more out there, so get ready for the onslaught of war nostalgia. If this is of interest to you, there is plenty of information around: Gallipoli; The Water Diviner; Anzac Girls.

David Stephens

Update 1 March 2014: Prime Minister announces special day to commemorate service in Afghanistan and Iraq

The Prime Minister announces that 21 March 2015 will be a ‘national day of commemoration … to recognise and commemorate the contribution and sacrifice of Australian troops who served in Afghanistan and the Middle East’. The activities will include parades of current and former ADF personnel. The Prime Minister said:

As a nation it is important that we stop to acknowledge and honour those that have served and sacrificed for their fellow Australians and for the Afghan people. Those who serve must know that their country will not ask them to bear the emotional wounds of war alone.

He noted that, since October 2001, 30 ooo ADF personnel have served in the Middle East, along with AFP members and public servants. While the Prime Minister did not state explicitly that the day of commemoration was part of the ‘century of service’ that is officially being commemorated in association with the Anzac centenary the day will add to the already long list of commemorative occasions foreshadowed in February by Minister Ronaldson (see below). It also aligns with the sentiments frequently expressed by Australian War Memorial Director Nelson that Australia insufficiently recognises the service of veterans of recent wars.

David Stephens

Update 1 March 2014: movement at the Memorial

The Australian War Memorial launched its centenary logo, there was public comment on it, a retired Major General is to organise the centenary travelling exhibition (another retired MAJ GEN runs commemoration in the Department of Veterans Affairs), the Memorial sticks to its guns on not commemorating the dead in the frontier wars but has a special day to commemorate the role of animals in war. Children are to recite the names of the 62 000 World War I dead and to write messages on crosses, while the names of the dead are relentlessly projected on the walls of the Memorial.

David Stephens