RSL New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland, SA/NT have officially cancelled all official ANZAC Day commemorative services – while in Victoria, simplified Dawn Services will be conducted, but the public are asked to stay away.
All Australian-led ANZAC Day services overseas have also been cancelled.
The Australian War Memorial is planning to broadcast the national ANZAC Day Dawn Service to support individual reflection on this important day, however, this service will not be open to the public.
A Dawn Service at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance will be conducted with small number of official guests and modified to minimize COVID-19 risk (including asking the public not to attend) – however, the Shrine of Remembrance itself is already closed until further notice.
We also heard that the Sir John Monash Centre in France is closed until further notice at the direction of the French government – as well as the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre and Walking Trail.
In fact, as of an 18 March update, the government’s Smart Traveller web site says – “do not travel overseas – and if you are already overseas and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means.”
Getting home will get harder and harder, with many countries going into tighter lockdowns – and QANTAS grounding all international flights from the end of March until the end of May (and standing down 20,000 employees).
CONTACT is looking at other sources and will update this page if we find more information.
NSW RSL acting State president Ray James reflected the general sentiment when he said the risk to vulnerable people during the current health situation was simply too high for ANZAC Day events to continue in their traditional format.
“Given the significant concerns around the spread of COVID-19, it would be irresponsible to allow such large gatherings as we see each year on ANZAC Day to go ahead,” Mr James said.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly.
“The RSL has a responsibility to act in the best interests of veterans and the general public.
“In these uncertain times we must follow the advice of medical experts and do everything we can to protect the community.
“This is a recognition of the penalties linked to events over 500 people, and the potential exposure to RSL sub-Branches.
“This acknowledges the fact that most ANZAC Day events are open to all members of the community and therefore have the potential to attract crowds of over 500 people.
“ANZAC Day as a marker of our respect and admiration for ANZACs past and present will still be observed.
“Exactly what form this will take will be different from previous years, but as custodians of commemoration, the RSL will still honour the service and sacrifice of our brave servicemen and women.
“In these challenging times, we will remember them.
“We will provide further updates on ANZAC Day related activities including fundraising in the coming days.”