Karageorgos, Effie: An urgent rethink is needed on the idealised image of the ANZAC digger

Effie Karageorgos

An urgent rethink is needed on the idealised image of the ANZAC digger‘, The Conversation, 21 November 2018

Having spent all that money on Great War commemoration we need

to become more honest – respectfully – about the way our military engagements, past and present, are depicted in memorials and on important days… Present and past military personnel of all genders feel they have to live up to the image of the rugged, male digger who shrugs off traumatic events. This archetype is unattainable – and the mental health consequences can be tragic.

Discusses suicide rates among Australian veterans. Adds that the sterotype male, blokey, laconic Anzac does not represent Australian soldiers today.

The soldier archetype must be politically redefined. Mental illness within the armed forces should be publicly acknowledged as “normal” – as it has occurred as long as combat has existed, among soldiers of all ages, ranks and genders. With the first world war centenary over, Australia must now move into a more progressive era of war commemoration that can effectively support its military personnel.

The article gives a figure of $A552 million for Australian commemorative spending, leaving aside the proposed $A498 million for extensions to the Australian War Memorial. As to the first figure, a strong case can be made that the spend has been around $A600 million.

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