Australian War Widows' (ACT) Field of Remembrance Dedication Ceremony and Anzac Service, Lyneham ACT [Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley]
I want to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
As Patron of the Australian War Widows’ (ACT) and as a Defence wife, I am delighted to deliver this Anzac Address in the lead up to Anzac Day 2021.
The period around Anzac Day is a time for reflection. I want to thank RSL LifeCare for arranging today’s Field of Remembrance Dedication Ceremony and Anzac Service, and the ACT War Widows’ for its strong advocacy on behalf of widows.
The War Widows’ provides companionship, counselling and support to more than 110 widows in the ACT and surrounding region. Quietly and without fanfare, but making a world of difference to the people it helps support. I have had a long and rewarding association with the War Widows’ and am extremely proud to be their Patron.
David’s and my Anzac Day National Address this year will acknowledge, recognise and honour the many Service organisations and families who have helped support our servicemen and women.
I am a very proud Defence wife. But, as we all know, that is not without its challenges. I have the utmost respect for Defence wives and husbands and know how important it is that we support them. Our message this year is that they are very much part of the Anzac legacy.
Let me give you an example.
I had never anticipated that one day David would be deployed to Somalia. As the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion it was a very significant, exciting and, ultimately, successful time for him and the men of 1RAR. I was happy for him, but five months seemed to me to be a long time. However, I was determined that things at home would be a success.
I thought I was doing pretty well, but about five weeks into the deployment while I was saying prayers and goodnight to our eldest child, Caitlin, she said ‘Mummy, you don’t seem to be happy anymore’. I was shocked. I genuinely thought I was coping well. God sends strange messengers. It was a huge wake-up call to me, from an eight-year-old. I will never forget her support and insight.
I was determined that our family would be a success on the home front while the father of the family was away doing his job. My friends and networks were a godsend. We all supported each other. We started a newsletter. We were there for each other and kept each other going. We shared many personal moments together and experienced a close bond.
My message to you today, especially to widows who might be struggling, is that help is out there and to seek help. It is not a sign of weakness to seek help, but it does take courage.
David and I are pleased to be able to shine a light on the critically important role played by our fine Service organisations like the Australian War Widows’ (ACT). The value of this network and its interactions cannot be understated. In fact, it can be life-changing.
Thank you, ladies, for the support and kindness you share.