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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

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13 April 2015


The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, today announced the names of the ten widows of Australian First World War veterans travelling to Gallipoli for this year’s Anzac Day Services.

“The centenary of the Gallipoli landing is a milestone of special significance for many Australians as it played such an important role in establishing us as a nation and a people,” Senator Ronaldson said.

“We recognise the legacy and the tradition that our First World War soldiers, sailors, airman and nurses forged, and I am delighted that this remarkable group of widows is making this journey to commemorate such a significant event at Gallipoli this year on Anzac Day.

“Life was irrevocably changed for more than 60,000 families of those who never returned from the First World War. For those who did return, often with the physical and emotional scars of war, it was the wives, mothers and family members who cared for their day-to-day needs.

“There are currently 115 widows of First World War veterans alive today. After writing to all of the surviving widows and inviting them to the Gallipoli Dawn Service I am delighted that we have the opportunity to recognise the contribution all of these remarkable women have made to our nation by taking ten widows to Turkey for the Centenary of Anzac,” Senator Ronaldson said.

The Australian Government and Qantas have worked together to support a number of Anzac Centenary activities, including the provision of return flights for the widows to attend Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli. 

“I would like to thank Qantas for the generosity they have shown in making this initiative possible,” Senator Ronaldson said.

“Now that there are no surviving veterans of the First World War these women provide an important link with those who survived the horrors of those awful battlefields”.

A current focus of the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary 2014-2018 national programme is the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign.  However, from next year there will also be a focus on the Western Front and the Middle East. 

During the Anzac Centenary, Australians also commemorate a century of service, encompassing all wars, conflicts and peace operations in which Australia has been involved. 

“One of the most important legacies that can come from the Anzac Centenary national programme is to improve our community’s understanding and awareness of our wartime history, particularly for younger Australians,” Senator Ronaldson said. 

Media inquiries:
Minister Ronaldson:  Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Widows travelling to Gallipoli
Selected Widow Widow
Age on
Anzac Day
Residence Location
Veronica (Niki) ALLDRITT 91 Darling Point, NSW
Ann BEASLEY 84 South Yarra, VIC
Marjorie (Marj) CAMERON 90 Laurieton, NSW
Rita CHISHOLM 80 Ashmore, QLD
Claire FORBES 86 Redlynch, QLD
Betty JOHNSON 81 Capel, WA
Ruth LITTLER 91 Cooks Hill, NSW
Diane MELLOY 71 Woombye, QLD
Jean POCKETT 92 Coorparoo, QLD
Valarie TREVITHICK 80 Brooklet, NSW


Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

PDF version (270 KB)