When DVA announced on 24 January that there would be no Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux this year, in preference for a 10am service instead, there was a huge outcry from tour companies, their customers and hundreds of others who had already made travel arrangements.
FILE PHOTO (2017): Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial outside Villers-Bretonneux in France, 25 April 2017. Photo by Corporal Max Bree.
Facebook and other forums lit up in protest, but DVA held fast – confirming to CONTACT on 8 February that the change of timing was set in stone, after consulting local authorities.
However, the Australian government heeded the public outcry and publicly ordered DVA to overturn its decision.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said when it came to sensitive matters like this, which were at the heart of our entire nation, it was vital that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs conducted full consultations with ex-service organisations and the general public before making changes.
“That’s what the public expect, it’s what the Prime Minister and the government expect,” Mr Chester said.
“I have have instructed DVA to conduct a Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux, France, on Anzac Day 2019.
“The decision to revert to the Dawn Service follows feedback from ex-service organisations and the general public in Australia.
“There will be comprehensive consultation with local authorities and tour operators in France, as well as with the ex-service community in Australia, before any further changes are considered.”
A win for the power of social media! – Ed.
Sorry about the late posting. Minister Chester actually made this announcement on 25 February, while I was on a cruise, with no comms.
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