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Tuesday, May 18, 2021
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Honouring Anzac Day 2020, in isolation yet united

Canberrans are being encouraged to participate in alternative Anzac Day activities to honour Australians who have served our nation. 25 April will no doubt look different this year, with Anzac Day services across the country either closed to the general public or cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while we won’t be gathering this year, people around Australia can still honour the service and sacrifice of veterans and serving defence personnel from home.

“But we will still remember the sacrifice of those who gave so much for us at Gallipoli and on many fronts, as we ourselves give what we can to protect Australian lives while we face this terrible virus.”

The ACT’s Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman echoed this sentiment, urging Canberrans to find ways of commemorating Anzac Day that comply with physical distancing.  

“Canberrans have been incredible in their response so far and I thank them for the efforts; however, this pandemic is still ongoing and large gatherings and trips away over the Anzac Day weekend are simply not possible this year,” Dr Coleman said.

While the Australian War Memorial remains closed to the public until further notice due to the pandemic, it will go ahead with a private service to be broadcast live across the nation.

Acting Memorial Director Anne Bennie said the revised commemorative ceremony will take place “within the heart of the Memorial” in the Commemorative Area and the Hall of Memory. The ceremony is expected to retain some traditional elements, with wreaths to be laid by dignitaries as well as senior representatives of current and former veterans.

As well as tuning into this year’s ceremony, Australians are also encouraged to pause and reflect at home through the RSL’s #lightupthedawn campaign, by standing on their driveway with a torch or candle immediately following the televised service. Similarly, the Driveway at Dawn campaign from Soldier On and volunteer group Aussies and Kiwis for ANZACs has an app (Anzac Day 2020) that will prompt Australians to head out to the driveway at 5.55am to observe a minute’s silence. 

Federal Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister Darren Chester said “whether it’s a solitary driveway tribute, baking Anzac biscuits, a small ceremony with your household, sharing a message for our service personnel, or watching the televised service from the Australian War Memorial on the morning of 25 April, I encourage everyone to pause, reflect and say a simple ‘thank you for your service’.”

ACT Minister for Seniors and Veterans, Gordon Ramsay, said the ACT Government recognises “this is a challenging time for all in our community, but that Anzac Day this year may be particularly difficult for current and ex-serving veterans”.  

Mr Ramsay said while COVID-19 restrictions were impacting on how we are commemorating Anzac Day this year, it should not prevent us from remembering the significant contribution of our service men and women.

“This year will be different from how we have traditionally commemorated Anzac Day, however there are many ways we can honour people who have served in the Australian Defence Forces while still adhering to distancing guidelines,” he said.

The ACT Government is supporting and encouraging Canberrans to engage in a range of commemorative activities including:

  • Participating in the Dawn Service at home by standing at the end of their driveway at 5.55am on Anzac Day, Saturday 25 April
  • Observing one minute of silence at 11.30am and holding up a poppy flower at your window
  • Significant Canberrans will be laying wreaths at sites across Canberra on behalf of the public. These sites include the Turkish Pine Forest at the National Arboretum, St Johns Church, Reid and the Peace Memorial near the Legislative Assembly.

The safest thing to do is to stay at home, but members of the public can also either lay a wreath or leave a poppy at sites of significance across Canberra – in line with physical distancing requirements. However:

  • Do not go if you are unwell
  • Only go with people from your household group or in groups of two
  • Observe 1.5m of physical distance from other people
  • Do not dwell; leave the area as soon as possible
  • Wash or sterilise your hands often

A range of online activities for children are also available from www.communityservicesdirectorate.act.gov.au

Everyone is encouraged to share their Anzac Day commemorations on social media using the hashtag #CBRANZACDay

“We hope that the Canberra community will join us in commemorating Anzac Day this year through these activities. It is more important now than ever to come together as a community and continue our traditions in any way that we can,” Minister Ramsay said.

The Anzac Day commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra will be held at 5.30am on Anzac Day, 25 April, broadcast live on ABC and streamed online.

The ANZAC Day 2020 mobile app is designed to deliver and guide users through the Driveway at Dawn service this year. On 25 April at 5.30am (local time), the National Broadcast in Australia and New Zealand will commence. At this time, the candle within the app will light. At 5.55am, you will be prompted to move to the driveway of your home, in preparation for the reading of The Ode, sounding of The Last Post, observance of a minute’s silence, and the sound of Reveille.

Although the Australian War Memorial will be closed to the public this Anzac Day, 25 April 2020, the dawn service will be broadcast live on the ABC. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.
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