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Motion: ANZAC Day

 

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. L.A. Henderson:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that Anzac Day was commemorated on 25 April 2023;

2. Pays its respects to the families of those ANZACs who tragically lost their lives during the capture of the Gallipoli Peninsula; and

3. Remembers all Australian personnel and animals who have been injured or killed in action.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:35): I rise on behalf of the Greens to support this motion brought before this place by the Hon. Mrs Henderson. ANZAC Day is a solemn occasion that acknowledges the sacrifices many Australians have made in pursuit of peace. However, as we reflect on their sacrifices we must also acknowledge the devastating impact of war on individuals, families and communities.

This year's commemoration marked the 107th anniversary of the Gallipoli tragedy, where 16,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers, along with allied troops, landed on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The campaign serves as a stark reminder of the atrocity of war. The loss of life and the suffering endured by those who served at Gallipoli is a testament to the destructive power of war and should inspire us all to work towards resolving conflict without resorting to violence.

The role of women within the ANZAC is also often overlooked, but their contributions during the First World War were crucial to the war effort. Close to 3,000 women enlisted and served as nurses on the frontlines. While female representation within the Australian Defence Force has improved since the First World War, women still only make up 20.1 per cent of active military personnel, according to the 2022 annual government defence report. Furthermore, a report done by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2022 on the suicide rates of ADF personnel revealed, unfortunately, ex-serving female ADF personnel are 107 per cent more likely to die by suicide when compared with the Australian population.

It is also important that we acknowledge the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the ANZAC. Under the commonwealth Defence Act 1903, people not substantially of European origin or descent were prevented from enlisting in World War I. This did not of course stop an estimated 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from joining, despite not even being considered Australian citizens at the time.

I know that in previous wars those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who served what was not quite our nation were often actually even denied re-entry into this country, having served this country in those wars—an extraordinary situation. Facing discrimination and prejudice, First Nations soldiers made significant contributions to the ANZAC story, and it is important that we remember, too, their contributions and ensure their stories are told and honoured. It is time for truth telling.

The role of animals within the ANZAC is also often disregarded and I thank the member for allowing us the opportunity to reflect on that today as well. Unlike their human counterparts, the animals were not given a choice, and it is important that we remember their invaluable contribution while also acknowledging the suffering and abuse that many endured. Of the 136,000 ANZAC horses sent abroad during the First World War, only one returned home to Australia.

As we commemorate ANZAC bravery on the battlefield, we should also acknowledge the bravery often exhibited by our nation's veterans when those guns stop firing and the conflict has ended. The horrors of war often have an enormous toll not only on the physical wellbeing of soldiers but, of course, on their mental health. A 2018 study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that half of ADF veterans experience a mental health disorder and nearly one-fifth of veterans report post-traumatic stress within five years of leaving the ADF. We owe it to our veterans to honour their service by providing the necessary supports they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Enduring ANZAC bravery was more recently exhibited in the defamation trial involving former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith. The courageous soldiers who came forward against Roberts-Smith have spoken truth to power, embodying the ANZAC spirit. They have served as an inspiration to many Australians about the importance of speaking out against what is wrong and what is unjust. ANZAC Day is an important day for many Australians and New Zealanders and, while we may never fully understand the experience of those who serve, we can continue to honour their memory and work towards a more peaceful and just world. With that, I commend the motion.

 

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