News National ‘Too early to say’: Anzac Day commemoration ceremonies could go ahead in Melbourne

‘Too early to say’: Anzac Day commemoration ceremonies could go ahead in Melbourne

Crowds gathering around the eternal flame at the dawn service on Anzac Day at the Shrine of Remembrance.
Crowds gather around the eternal flame on Anzac Day in 2017. Photo: Getty
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Anzac Day memorial services may still go ahead in Melbourne, despite a cancellation announcement from RSL Victoria earlier this month.

Minister for Veterans Shaun Leane released a statement via Twitter on Tuesday suggesting the events may yet be revived.

“I’ve organised for Major Events and the Department of Health to work with RSL Victoria to assist them to organise COVID safe events across the state for people to honour veterans on Anzac Day, including a potential march in Melbourne,” he wrote.

An earlier decision to cancel the events two months in advance was met with public backlash, with some drawing comparisons between major sporting events and the significance of Anzac Day.

Some Twitter users were quick to complain of contradictions, for example pointing out the state government’s backflip over the Moomba festival, which is now set to go ahead.

State Opposition Leader Michael O’Brian took to Twitter, responding to an article in the Herald Sun. 

“If Moomba is back on, surely we can honour our veterans’ sacrifice with a COVID-safe ANZAC Day march? It’s 2 months away,” he wrote.


But it was RSL Victoria, not the state government, who made the earlier decision to veto the events.

The organisation’s president Robert Webster said at the time that based on advice he had received, going ahead was too risky due to the vulnerability of many veterans.

The Tasmanian RSL also decided to cancel public commemoration events this year, amid concerns for the safety of veterans.

Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday it was “too early to say” exactly what Anzac Day will look like for Victorians, but confirmed the state government will work with the RSL to keep it “as close to normal as possible”.

Queensland to ‘turn out in full force’ for Anzacs

Planned Anzac Day events will be in full swing across Queensland on April 25, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed.

Ms Palaszczuk says dawn services, marches and public commemorations will be held “as normal”.

“This means a lot to everyone across our state and I think is a great sign of respect.

“Let’s all turn out in full force to show our appreciation to the men and women who served our country.”

Last year, public Anzac Day events were cancelled across the state due to the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Instead, thousands of Queenslanders marked the day by standing in their driveways at dawn and other private commemorations.

RSL Queensland president Tony Ferris said it would be heart-warming news for veterans and their families.

“The fact that we can now get back to our grassroots with our families, and commemorate those that have gone before, it’s just going to be one of the great things for Queensland,” he said.

RSL South Eastern District president Colonel Kerry Gallagher (Ret’d) AM said the return of public events was more important for veterans than the community.

He said it was important mentally and emotionally for their service to be validated and for them to connect with their fellow veterans.

“Meeting with mates is vitally important not only from, I suppose, a traditional point of view, but for many of them, who perhaps are not travelling so well,” Colonel Gallagher said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Anzac Day services will go ahead.  Photo: AAP

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said Anzac Day could go ahead because there were no active cases in the community in Queensland.

She also said the mostly outdoor events were perfect for reducing the risk of COVID-19.

Dr Young said even the indoor functions can be managed with COVID-safe plans and contact tracing checking in.

“I commend the RSL, they have just done some of the best work in Australia in terms of managing their RSL clubs,” she added.

RSL NSW will also go ahead with its annual Anzac Day parade on April 25, but the march through Sydney CBD will be strictly limited to 500 participants.

-with agencies