Members of the Sarina Citizens ANZAC Day Committee have been left in disbelief after an email from the Australian Defence Force notified them they will not be receiving Ceremonial Support personnel for this year’s ANZAC Day service and school visits.
Federal Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, was notified by the Sarina Citizens ANZAC Day Committee that the ADF had made the decision to not support the Sarina’s commemorations.
Ms Landry stated the decision made by the ADF is un-Australian and disrespectful to those who are currently serving, or have served, by not sending personnel to support the RSL on such an important day for this community.
“ANZAC Day is sacred for Australians. This absurd decision by the ADF to not send a representative from any of the three services is a slap in the face to those who are serving and the memories of those who have given everything for our country,” Ms Landry said.
In an email received from an ADF representative, it stated they had presented Sarina’s request for Ceremonial Support for ANZAC Day to the three services but unfortunately each service declined to send an Officer.
“Your requests were presented to the three services of ADF and were considered; taking into account strict adherence to the selection criteria and a number of limiting factors, including distance, cost and logistical requirements for movement of personnel and equipment from the nearest available ADF elements.
“Due to these limiting factors, operational tempo, and strict adherence to the selection criteria, regrettably the ADF is not in a position to provide support to your events on this occasion,” a Warrant Officer wrote.
Hard-working Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, contacted the ADF representative to ask for an explanation as to why, after so many years of supporting the Sarina community, they would be pulling out.
A Warrant Officer advised that he understood the community are disappointed but stated the same reasons given in his correspondence to the RSL.
Sarina ANZAC Day Committee Chair, Mr Rod Ballard, said the committee and RSL members are gutted following the ADF’s call not to send representatives due to cost restrictions.
“It makes you wonder just how many other communities are being abandoned in Central and Northern Queensland.
“For as long as I can remember, military personnel have been allocated to us from Townsville to support us on ANZAC Day and school ceremonies preceding the day.
“Over 2,000 students across the Sarina district are visited by these personnel for their ANZAC Day ceremonies and meet with students to answer their questions about being in the military and ANZAC Day,” Mr Ballard said.
The Sarina ANZAC Day Committee undertake an enormous amount of preparations to ensure the community can remember Veterans with the respect they so rightly deserve.
Mr Ballard said it is very disappointing that there will be no ceremonial support and this will devastate the community.
“Given the information received from ADF, we cannot understand why our community has been abandoned.
“This day is about honouring our service community and the sacrifices they make. It seems contradictory that currently serving military personnel should be withheld from a community on such a significant day,” Mr Ballard said.
Michelle Landry has written to the Minister for Defence to request this decision be reversed.