A nationally broadcast commemorative service will take place at the Memorial on the morning of Anzac Day, 25 April 2020.
The ABC will begin pre-service programming from 5 am, with the service broadcast live from the Commemorative Area and Hall of Memory from 5.30 am.
The event will not be open to the public but will be broadcast live across Australia and streamed online. The ABC will make the broadcast available to other networks under a host broadcaster arrangement to enable people to mark Anzac Day safely and respectfully from home.
Director of the Australian War Memorial, Matt Anderson PSM, said that the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic makes this year’s Anzac Day all the more important.
“Anzac Day is traditionally about acknowledging the resilience and fortitude demonstrated by the Anzacs at Gallipoli and the subsequent legacy that was born. Across the community, people are drawing upon their own resources to deal with this global health crisis,” Mr Anderson said.
“It is vital that we have the opportunity to take time to pause and reflect on Anzac Day, if not as some brief respite from the overwhelming nature of the pandemic, but because it’s what we do.
“Anzac Day happens every year and it will happen in 2020, albeit in different circumstances. We are resolute in our commitment to ensuring Australians can honour the Australian servicemen and servicewomen who have served in the past, and recognise those who are currently serving.”
Mr Anderson added that it is critical the Memorial’s Anzac Day commemorative service includes a minimum number of people and adheres to government advice on gatherings of large groups and social distancing. The Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government, Professor Brendan Murphy has given formal approval for an exemption of social distancing restrictions for the commemorative service.
“It is heartbreaking that the traditional Dawn Service, National Ceremony and veterans’ march will not take place this year. We have heard from people who have attended or participated in Anzac Day commemorations at the Memorial for many years, and who are understandably disappointed to be unable to do so this year,” Mr Anderson said.
“It must be stressed firmly that this event is not open to the public and that the intent of the broadcast of the commemorative service is to enable people to engage with Anzac Day commemorations from home,” Mr Anderson added.
The commemorative service will be attended by dignitaries representing the Commonwealth of Australia, the people of New Zealand, the Returned and Services League, and veterans. There will be a ceremonial piper, didgeridoo player and bugler among other traditional elements.
A special pre-recorded Last Post Ceremony will be posted to the Memorial’s digital platforms at 4.55 pm on Anzac Day. The ceremony will feature the story of Private Thomas Anderson Whyte of the 10th Battalion AIF who was killed during the landing at Gallipoli in 1915, read by Sergeant Shelby Powell of the Royal Australian Air Force.