The Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign and the Anzac Centenary Program
Between 2014 and 2018 Australia will commemorate the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War. A focal point of the Anzac Centenary Program will be the commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign which began on 25 April 1915.
While substantial resources will be committed to commemorating the bravery and ‘sacrifice’ of Australian service men and women, the Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign (GCPC) doubts that a primary focus of the centenary will be on the catastrophic loss of all human life on the battlefields of Gallipoli and the Western Front, or indeed in all major wars and conflicts. Nor is it likely that the centenary program will allude to the immense indirect costs associated with militarism, either in the past or around the world today.
GCPC believes that the most responsible way of honouring our veterans is to learn from past wars and conflicts in order that we may minimise the risk of catastrophic warfare in the future. The Anzac Centenary Program, including the Gallipoli commemoration, could foster such a goal by promoting projects designed to deepen our understanding of war – in particular, its causes, its real costs and its prevention. However there is little evidence that the Anzac Centenary will embrace this orientation.
Nor do we believe that the upcoming centenary commemorations will confront many of the myths about Australia’s war experience such as those associated with the Anzac legend. Claims that our nation was born at Gallipoli, that our national identity was forged in war, and that we fought at Gallipoli for ‘freedom and democracy’, all lack substance and seriously distort Australians’ understanding of their history.
GCPC contends that the Anzac Centenary is an appropriate time to query the myth-making and sanitisation of Australian military ‘history’. GCPC also believes that it is time for the nation to officially recognise the earlier Frontier Wars and acknowledge the impact these domestic wars had on the subsequent dispossession and displacement of Indigenous peoples.
GCPC’s current program of activities includes:
- Anzac Legend – Exposing the falsehoods of the Anzac legend and resisting the militarisation of Australian history.
- Historical Research – Encouraging historical research and a greater appreciation of dissenting voices during WW1 and the war’s divisive and debilitating impacts on local communities.
- Veterans’ Welfare Project – Supporting war veterans by calling for more affordable housing and better welfare services from government agencies and more adequate support services and financial contributions from RSL sub-branches and RSL Clubs.
- Public Forums – Organising public forums and debates on WW1, the causes and costs of war, and how to promote a culture of peace.
Past events have included:
- Public Forums – A successful public forum was held on April 22, 2015 on the topic: ‘Gallipoli and Anzac after 100 Years: Lessons and the Prospects for Peace Today’. Read the post about the forum here.
- Peace Park – Co-naming of Richardson’s Lookout as Marrickville Peace Park. This project included the installation of signage on the precinct’s Indigenous, settler and military history. The Marrickville Peace Park was launched on November 8, 2015. Read the post about this event here.
- High School History Project – Distributing a set of lesson plans and other resources to local secondary schools designed to encourage students to think critically about Gallipoli, WW1 and the devastating and enduring effects of war. Access the lesson plans here.
- Street Stalls – GCPC and the Marrickville Peace Group (MPG) held a joint stall at Addison Road’s centenary event on Saturday 2 May 2015. Refer to the report here.