THE Borough of Queenscliffe will be one of the few places in the Geelong region holding an Anzac Day service this year, but the Queenscliff/Point Lonsdale RSL is urging people to stay home and “light up the dawn” instead.
Last year, Anzac Day services were cancelled for the first time in more than a century because of the coronavirus, and RSL Clubs across Australia invited people to stand on their driveway at 6am on April 25 with a candle, lantern or some other light to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those that have served or still are serving.
Anzac Day ceremonies in Geelong and Torquay are again cancelled this year. Although the Queenscliff service is still going ahead, Queenscliff/Point Lonsdale RSL is urging the community to not attend so local veterans and their families can safely commemorate the day in person.
Queenscliff/Point Lonsdale RSL president Lieutenant Colonel Alan Hunter said the situation posed a unique challenge, and asked the public to consider the health and safety of veterans and their families.
“Many of our veterans and their families are in high-risk categories for coronavirus, so it’s extremely important that we avoid crowds at Anzac Day ceremonies this year,” he said.
“To ensure we can hold safe, in-person events, this year’s Anzac Day ceremonies in the borough will only be open to local veterans and their immediate families.
“We’re asking members of the broader community to commemorate the day at home instead.”
Lt Col. Hunter said community members could take part from home by lighting a candle in their driveway at dawn, or listening into the broadcast from the Australian War Memorial on ABC radio.
“By commemorating ANZAC Day at home, you’ll help us ensure we can honour our veterans in a safe way,” he said.
The ANZAC Day March in Melbourne is still going ahead with a maximum of 5,500 people, in line with the application submitted by the RSL and approved under Victoria’s Public Events Framework.
The traditional Dawn Service and Commemorative Services will also be held with smaller numbers in partnership with the Shrine of Remembrance, and livestreamed at facebook.com/rslvic.
The state government is encouraging Victorians to stay local on Anzac Day by attending a service close to their town or alternatively taking part in the Light Up the Dawn initiative.
“We’ve worked closely with RSL Victoria to ensure the march and dawn service could go ahead this year – but there are many ways to honour the hard work and sacrifice of our returned service men and women closer to home,” Minister for Veterans Shaun Leane said.
“With hundreds of local services across Melbourne and regional Victoria, I encourage people to stay local this Anzac Day.”