Tasmanian residents are encouraged to acknowledge the sacrifice of servicemen and women in their own way on Anzac Day following the cancellation of commemorative services across Tasmania.
The RSL Tasmania board took the decision last Sunday in accordance with the Australian government’s direction to cancel public gatherings involving more than 500 people.
“Anzac Day and all that it means to Australians is no less important this year, however our responsibility to the Australian community as a whole must be taken very seriously,” RSL Tasmania president Robert Dick said in a statement.
RSL Tasmania said it had acted due to the concern for the safety and well-being of the community at large, and also for its members, many of whom fall within the vulnerable categories.
“It is most unfortunate that we cannot gather to commemorate the fallen this Anzac Day, and we will always remember the dedication, commitment and sacrifice of our Defence Forces, past and present.”
Mr Dick said the RSL was working with the government to look at alternative ways to mark Anzac Day.
The government said they understood the significance of RSL Tasmania’s decision to cancel all RSL-conducted ANZAC Day commemorative services in Tasmania.
“Accordingly the Tasmanian Government is considering other alternatives to commemorate ANZAC day this year and has approached RSL Tasmania to discuss these options,” said Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Guy Barnett.
Options being considered include potentially televising or live streaming one or more crowd free Tasmanian ANZAC ceremonies, with only a limited number of key representatives present. This could allow the community to participate and show their respect, while ensuring public health and safety.
“In addition, I encourage all Tasmanians to observe two minutes silence on 25 April at 11am and reflect upon the price of freedom, and recognise the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women,” said Barnett.
2020 marks the 105th anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign. Around 420,000 Australians enlisted in World War One, including 15,484 from Tasmania, of whom nearly 3,000 were killed.
A further 40,000 Australians were killed on active service in World War Two and in subsequent conflicts in Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and the Middle East.
Tasmanians were among the first to land in Gallipoli in 1915, and have been active in Australia’s military operations in following conflicts.
Today more than 10,500 war veterans and ex-service personnel live in Tasmania.