Tomorrow is Anzac Day, a day when we remember all Australians and New Zealanders who have served in wars, conflicts, peacekeeping, and disaster operations – especially those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The spirit of Anzac, which symbolises courage, tenacity, humour, and mateship, was established on 25 April 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula during World War I. This day marked the start of a campaign that lasted eight months and resulted in 25,000 Australian casualties.
The Anzac spirit lives on in all of us, particularly during times of crisis. While Anzac Day may look and feel a little different this year because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, it remains an important time for us all to reflect on the honour and sacrifice made by all of our servicemen and women – as well as their loved ones.
The past six months have put a spotlight on the sacrifice people in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) make. Rather than being deployed to conflicts overseas, the ADF has been deployed domestically across Australia on OP Bushfire Assist and now on OP COVID-19 Assist, helping communities and authorities manage the recoveries of two major crises.
In many cases, these personnel are reservists – particularly on OP Bushfire Assist, which saw the first general call-up of reservists in Australia’s history. This means they hold full-time jobs outside of Defence but are ready to be activated when our country needs them.
It’s important to recognise that the sacrifice isn’t made just by Defence personnel either – but also by their families. Below, in their own words, we share stories from our National Return to Work Coordinator Mark Zubrinch – a medic with 4th CSSB in Victoria – and Senior Coordinator Social Licence Sonia Oke, whose husband, Ryan, is a trooper with 3rd/9th Light Horse in South Australia. Both Mark and Ryan left their work and families behind to deploy on OP Bushfire Assist.
On Saturday 4 January the Prime Minister announced the compulsory call-out of ADF Reserve Brigades for the first time in Australia's history.
I received a text message at about 8.00pm on the Monday night, and the next day I was on my way to Bairnsdale from Melbourne, where I'd be stationed for a couple of days before spending almost four weeks in Mallacoota in the East Gippsland region.