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ANZAC Day 2020

The Governor-General's national address (broadcast on the ABC)


On Anzac Day we remember and honour the service and sacrifice of those who have served our nation.

We do this for a number of reasons:

  • to acknowledge those who have died in service to our nation
  • to reflect on how that service and sacrifice has contributed to what and who we are as a nation today - that is, to understand its impact - and
  • to understand what our response should be to that legacy.

Today - on an Anzac Day that is so different to what we are used to - this last point is particularly important.

We are proud of the ANZAC legacy. We celebrate it and we identify with it.

Now - as our generation faces its greatest test - is the time to demonstrate that that legacy is a true representation of who we are.

On 25 April 1915 the world changed. As young men and women of that generation joined the Services in increasingly large numbers, our nation experienced loss at a disproportionately larger rate than other countries. Australia suffered the highest death and wounding rate per capita.

This loss devastated our cities and towns. It disrupted the social fabric of Australia.

But from that devastation grew an Australian identity that has guided and, in many respect, defined our national character.

We are reminded today as we commemorate our losses in World War 2 - a war that ended 75 years ago - that that national character was evident again when Australia responded to the threat of totalitarianism and fascism.

And in more recent decades our service and sacrifice has continued in operations around the globe. Each has had its impact on our returned servicemen and servicewomen and reminds us that our duty to our veterans never ceases.

We now talk of the ANZAC legacy as having four characteristics that define Australia:

  • mateship
  • endurance
  • courage, and
  • sacrifice

In essence, these characteristics say that we are a people who, in adverse situations, are strong, look out for each other, and are prepared to put others before self.

A fine example of this was the action of the crew of HMAS Encounter during the RAN's first overseas humanitarian mission to Tonga and Samoa in 1919.

The response to the captain’s request for volunteers to provide assistance ashore to treat those suffering the Spanish Flu was overwhelmingly positive. It would be difficult to find a more telling example of the Australian Navy's tradition of  'service before self'.

Today the Anzac legacy should serve three purposes:

  • to call on us to thank those earlier generations for their sacrifice
  • to energise us in looking after our more recent veterans, and
  • to inform us of what those earlier generations would expect of us today as we face our own generational test.

We remember on Anzac Day for a reason.

We are proud of our Anzac forebears, let us make them proud of us.

Lest We Forget.

A joint Anzac Day message with the Governor-General of New Zealand


For the first time, the Governor-General and the Governor-General of New Zealand have recorded a joint video message to commemorate Anzac Day.

In the message, the Governor-General and Her Excellency The Rt Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM, QSO have recognised the unique nature of this year’s Anzac Day, the importance of remembering and honouring the sacrifice of our forebears and drawing inspiration from their legacy as we confront our own generational test.

Australian Governor-General: At a time when staying connected has never been more important, Dame Patsy and I — on behalf of our respective nations — bring you this joint Anzac Day message.

New Zealand Governor-General: Kia ora koutou - greetings.

On this very different Anzac Day, David and I acknowledge the enduring bonds forged between our two countries by the ANZACs in Gallipoli.

Aus: On Anzac Day we remember and honour the service and sacrifice of those who have served our nations.

NZ: This year, Gallipoli will not be a place of pilgrimage. The Last Post will not echo across Anzac Cove, nor at Lone Pine nor Chunuk Bair.

There will be no visitors to the memorials and cemeteries on Gallipoli; no expeditions up the steep ravines and ridge-lines where our forebears fought and died.

There will be no public gatherings in our towns and cities, and no opportunities for our citizens to stand side by side to honour our veterans and pay homage to those who lost their lives in times of war

Aus: But many of us can still participate in an act of remembrance.

We know that in thousands of homes across Australia and New Zealand, people will come together in spirit to honour the service and sacrifice of those who have served.

Acts of remembrance, of course, are very much a personal thing. Whatever way you choose to remember, Anzac Day is a time:

- To acknowledge those who have died in service to our nations.

- To reflect on how that service and sacrifice has contributed to what and who we are as nations today — that is, to understand its impact.

- And, to understand what our response should be to that legacy.

NZ: Along with our friends in Australia, we too will commemorate our day of remembrance in a unique way, knowing that on either side of the Tasman we can draw strength and resolve from the courage and comradeship of our forebears.

We can be guided by their sense of common purpose, and the understanding that we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe and well in our current adversity – and that includes reaching out to support the vulnerable, fearful and anxious among us.

We can choose to do good – to ensure that adversity brings out the best in us.

It is in this way that we can best honour the memory of the many people who live on in our memories, and the sacrifices that they made for our nations.

Aus: We remember on Anzac Day for a reason.

We are proud of our ANZAC forebears.

Let us make them proud of us.

NZ: Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou.

Aus: Lest we forget.

What the ANZAC Day legacy means today


"In the lead up to ANZAC day, that's an important question - what does it mean to us as Australians and how do we behave as Australians and respond to these crises.

"I think that the strength that has been demonstrated by previous generations, we're being called on to do that now. If this is the legacy we've been left, how do we live up to that legacy at this particular time?

"We saw in the recent bushfires how magnificently communities rallied around those who were adversly impacted by the bushfires to provide food, money and whatever to help them - that was really rich.

"We want to see the same thing now - helping people, keeping an eye out for people and - as a society - saying we are a good strong people, we've got a compassionate heart and we will get through this sort of issue by looking after each other."

The importance of  reaching out to Veterans in the lead up to ANZAC Day


“With the social isolation we have imposed on us at the present time – for good reason – we know that people are isolated and many veterans are in sort of a fragile condition and that contact is important to them.

“If people do know veterans, please give them a call.

“Check on them – ask how are they going?

“Particularly as we get closer to ANZAC Day because ANZAC Day becomes a concentration of many emotions for veterans and that’s a good time to be reaching out to help.”

Baking Anzac biscuits and chatting about the Anzac legacy