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Articles > Building Your Community > Commemorating Anzac Day with the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans' Association

Commemorating Anzac Day with the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans' Association

Q&A with Ian Lindgren, Vice Chairperson, Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans' Association

Can you tell us a little bit about the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association and how it supports veterans?

The purpose of the APPVA is to support the transition, health, wellbeing, and integration into society of all participants in past and present operations, and their families, so that they are valued and can attain happiness after service.

Membership is open to all serving and retired veterans of the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Federal Police and all those members of the government who have deployed on modern operations and their families, and for anyone with an interest in supporting our purpose.  Modern operations are all post 1975 (Vietnam) operations that have been in the main largely peacekeeping or peacemaking, or operations that have pivoted between two operational postures. Thankfully there have been few large scale operations that Australia has participated in since Vietnam. It is noteworthy that a veteran in Australia is considered a person who has served 24 hours in the Australian Defence Force. A Veteran can still be serving and also includes Australian Federal Police that have deployed up to 2008.

The APPVA focuses on doing all it can to support veterans and the families so they can attain happiness in life after serving. In doing this we:

  • Provide advocacy services to those who have been injured and assist them in gaining medical support and compensation.
  • Provide wellness services to those who need assistance transitioning from the ADF to civilian life, which includes placing them in touch with employment, health and social connections in the areas they reside.   If we don’t have someone in an area to assist, we ask another ex-service organisation to assist in our place.
  • We lobby for veterans and veteran family rights in terms of support from the Commonwealth and states and from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • We help develop policy and procedures that support veterans and their families.

This is significant because Australia was the first nation to deploy peacekeepers under the United Nations’ auspices when it sent four military observers to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1947 during the independence struggle. The observers arrived on 14 September 1947.

Since then, Australia has deployed peacekeepers every year, and while the first peacekeepers were uniformed members of the Australian Defence Force, many operations can consist solely of Australian Federal Police members, members of the state/territory police forces, the broader emergency service community, public servants, and non-government organisations.

What does Anzac Day mean to you, and to the APPVA?

To me, Anzac Day is a day of serious reflection. A day when I think of Australia’s heritage and how the men and women of the former Australian colonies continued their journey to become a nation through the test of war when nearly every family in Australia lost one or more family members. To me I think of the sacrifices men and women have made to protect Australia, and to preserve world peace, in peacetime and in war, and particularly those who lost their lives in peace and in war. It’s a time I reflect on the mateship and service of 21 years in the Australian Army and of all the times it tested my character and all the times it gave me great laughs.  To serve is not just a job; it is a life long membership to a unique group of individuals and it never leaves you. Now, it is also a day when my grandchildren sacrifice their comfort on (sometimes) cold and wet Anzac Days and march wearing my medals, as my 15 year old grandson will do this year in Jindabyne. I will watch him with pride and in the knowledge that I have passed to him, through his father and mother, a unique piece of the Australian national character.

Throughout the Country, from the nation’s capital, Canberra, to the outback, former peacekeepers will see one another again, perhaps for the first time in years, March, commemorate Anzac Day, and then talk of times past and mates both with us and others lost.  This includes Police who have deployed, and many public servants, and we are the only organisation that recognises their unique forms of deployment in the interests of peace.

How do you involve families in Anzac Day?

Families are central to Anzac Day because they are the ones who face loneliness and isolation while the veteran or veterans in the family deploy for months at a time, or work long hard hours while most people are home asleep or resting.   Family members now march with their family veteran on Anzac Day in most locations, and often they will wear the medals of their ancestors on their right breast to indicate the medals were not conferred upon the individual wearing them.

Families line the roads for Anzac Day marches, and gather around commemorative services; be it in a city or a country community. 

Are you in touch with other peacekeeping organisations around the world?

Yes, despite the pandemic we keep in weekly and sometimes daily touch with the Western Europe Soldiers of Peace and share Facebook posts such as commemorative activities, anniversaries of peacekeeping activities and key events such as each nation’s equivalent of a veterans’ day.

How is your community coming together during Anzac Day?

The APPVA members will gather as small formed bodies of men and women in every Anzac Day service around the country.  The will stand out because they will wear the United Nations Blue Beret and other headdress unique to a peacekeeping or peacemaking operation.  This year many will march behind our new banner that depicts the quintessential image of a male peacekeeper; that of  Trooper Jonathan Church carrying an injured Rwandan child who has survived the brutal massacre by soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) at the UN administered refugee camp at Kibeho Rwanda in 1995. Over 2,000 died and an even larger number were wounded and injured. Tpr Church is a member of the second Australian Service Contingent (ASC2) serving in the second United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR II). Tpr Church was one of 18 soldiers killed in a training accident in Townsville on 12 June 1996, when two Blackhawk helicopters crashed.  We aim to have an image of a female peacekeeper soon depicting the unique characteristics women bring to peacekeeping; many of which are roles that men are not suited to performing.

After Anzac Day we will gather in our groups, or larger groups and “remember” in pubs, clubs and BBQs.

How can people support the APPVA?

People can support the APPVA by volunteering to help in some capacity because we are always in need of more help.  They can join the organisations and individuals and companies can donate funds so we can use the funds to help veterans and their families in need.

ToucanTech works with unique communities like the APPVA by providing an all-in-one database, website and engagement suite. To find out more, speak to a member of the ToucanTech team

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