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Speeches

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel

SPEECH

Monday, 11 November 2019

Respect Remembrance Day

The Australian Veterans’ Covenant ends with the phrase: ‘For what they have done, this we will do’

‘For what they have done, this we will do’.

It is a simple exhortation - and a reminder to us all that the freedoms we all enjoy today, both here in the UK and at home in Australia, have come at an enormous price.

An enormous price in terms of lives lost, physical and mental injuries, life partners taken away, families changed forever.

The Veterans Covenant is also a challenge.

A challenge to each and every one of us to take action in our local communities to respect, support and care for our military personnel and their families.

To put service above self and to help build a better Australia.

As Minister for Veterans, I’m sometimes asked ‘why do so many Australians even bother to get out of bed before dawn on Anzac Day... or stop what they are doing and stand silently on Remembrance Day?’

It’s a fair question when you consider, that for many, it’s probably the only sunrise they will see each year.

In our busy lives when time is the most precious commodity, getting people to put away their iPhones, and stand still in silence for one minute, is no small achievement.

Ultimately, it’s about respect.
Respect for the fallen.
Respect for their families.
Respect for the men and women who continue to serve today and who keep us safe in an ever-changing world.

Whenever I meet our veterans or current serving Australian Defence Force personnel, I have a simple message.

‘Thank you for your service, and thank you to your families who support you’.

Whether you are among the 2000 Australian Defence Force personnel currently deployed around the world or the more than 50,000 at home in Australia: training, preparing, ensuring you are ready to answer the call if required.

Your service to our nation is deeply respected.

Thank you for your service.

As we pause for a minute’s silence, we should think about the 102,000 fallen Australians whose names are immortalised on the walls of the Australian War Memorial.

We should think about the many thousands who have been wounded or injured during their service in the Australian Defence Force.

We should think about those who loved and cared for them.

We should think about the thousands of towns, cities and communities named on the walls behind me.

And then we should think about those words in the Australian Veterans’ Covenant.

‘For what they have done, this we will do’

It’s not about getting out of bed early on just one day to attend a Dawn Service.

It’s not about stopping whatever you’re doing on November 11 each year.

It’s about, honouring all those who have served with the way we choose to live our lives every day.

It’s about recognising and respecting the enduring values which bind our communities and bind our great, and peace loving nations.

Those enduring values of loyalty, courage, honesty and mateship that defined the original Anzacs and live on in our defence forces today.

The resilience and determination to never give up, to never let your mates down.

 As a nation, Australia has always pulled together in tough times.

At home today, many of our friends and family members will wake to the smell of bushfire smoke and the sight of smouldering ruins.

They will need to draw on all of their resilience and determination in the days and weeks ahead, and as a community, we stand ready to support them in tough times.

From the firefighters and the volunteers supporting them, to the defence force personnel assisting with the emergency response and clean up, we will place their needs above our own.

Because ladies and gentlemen, in a small and practical way, that’s how we prove ourselves worthy of the sacrifice of previous generations.

’For what they have done, this we will do.’

Thank you for your attendance here today, and thank you for respecting all those who have served, and the sacrifices they made in our name.

We will remember them. Lest we forget.

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au