Anzac Day is a reminder of sacrifice, and how we can help our armed forces personnel.
Mateship, courage, resourcefulness and integrity are values that belong in any business. They are also among the values that form the Anzac spirit.
For those outside the defence sector, it is possible the full meaning of the term ‘Anzac spirit’ is not completely understood.
According to the Australian War Memorial website, the word ‘Anzac’ has been part of the Australian vocabulary since 1915, and was first used in Egypt as an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. In spite of its specific reference to our WWI heroes, it has become associated with our armed forces, their professional culture, and in paying respect to defence forces past and present.
Charles Bean and Arthur Bourke are among those who have penned notable definitions of the Anzac spirit, evoking a sense that our Anzacs were uncompromisingly resilient and thoughtful, while stubbornly refusing to be defeated.
Perhaps most relevant for the modern context is the comment attributed to the Returned and Services League of Australia (WA branch), noting that the Anzac spirit is still seen today in the willingness of Australians to come together in times of crisis: “To look after one another, and to let the victims of these disasters know they are not alone”.
There is a growing need to return the favour.
A significant proportion of Western Australia’s homeless are veterans, and there’s increasing emphasis being placed on ensuring veterans’ transition to civilian life is made easier.
WA’s ANZAC House says there is a need to care for and support veterans and their families, with an ever-increasing number of veterans returning from conflicts and humanitarian crises or transitioning out of the ADF.
For context, 41 ADF personnel have lost their lives during the war in Afghanistan. ADF and veteran suicides in that same time are almost 10 times that number, according to reporting via the ABC.
All up, $11.5 billion is spent across veterans’ issues in Australia per year, and the royal commission should identify if this is sufficient or efficient in response to demand. With hundreds of suicides per decade, it is evident that improvement is possible, if not imperative.
For those in the business community, the issue may seem too far out of reach to offer assistance. There are, however, a number of ways people can help if they choose to make a difference.
For example, engage with Defence West, the state government agency that oversees veterans’ issues in WA. Consider including veterans in motivational or leadership sessions with your management teams.
Reach out to organisations such as Soldier On Australia or Legacy WA, which dedicate their services to support veterans’ families and the transition to civilian life, to explore how you can contribute. These organisations all have offices in the CBD, most likely within walking distance of many readers.
Anzac House on St Georges Terrace is effectively veterans’ central, with a medical centre, dentist, psychologist, psychiatrist, dining facilities, function floors and hosting ex-service organisations.
These facilities and services are open to members and are available at affordable rates. It is also the WA head office of RSLWA.
The function rooms provide an ideal contextual background for key messaging around leadership, sacrifice and the hallmarks of the Anzac spirit.
Businesses can support our veterans simply by holding their next event or large meeting at this location.
Connecting with Defence West, RSLWA or Anzac House is worth considering for veteran employment, for those who wish to bring some Anzac spirit into their organisations.
Perhaps most importantly, consider how you chose to remember and honour our veterans. In our time of need, be it conflict, natural disasters or a pandemic, ADF personnel were there for us, to support our needs and our families, and to protect our futures.
For Australia’s returning service personnel, now is their time of need. To reframe the RSLWA quote regarding the ANZAC spirit, our collective aim should now be to come together in times of crisis, to look after one another, and to let our veterans know they are not alone.
To any veterans in need of counselling, please contact Open Arms on 1800 011 046.