Families say War Memorial must treat peacekeepers equally
Avril Clark (left) carries a box of petitions as she walks past the Roll of Honour with Sarah McCarthy at the Australian War Memorial. Photo: Alan Porritt
It is not easy for Canberra's Sarah McCarthy to visit the Australian War Memorial; it conjures up images of her late father who she feels has not been properly recognised there.
Bravely she walked into the Campbell institution yesterday, for a special meeting to push for him to be included on the Roll of Honour, along with other soldiers killed on peacekeeping missions.
''It would give the War Memorial an importance to me because at the moment I don't feel it is a war memorial in my regard because my dad's name is not there,'' Ms McCarthy said before meeting with the chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan.
Captain Peter McCarthy, who died on January 12, 1988 while serving as a peacekeeper in Lebanon. His daughter Sarah McCarthy is fighting to have his name included in the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial. Photo: Supplied
The Roll of Honour is reserved for Australian Defence Force personnel who die during or as a result of ''warlike service''.
The names of those killed in peacekeeping missions are recorded separately, in a remembrance book.
This is something Ms McCarthy is determined to change.
In 1988, when she was just a toddler, Ms McCarthy's father Captain Peter McCarthy died in an explosion in Lebanon while working as a peacekeeper.
''He was an Australian soldier serving, our government deployed him to be there as a peacekeeper, so the sheer fact that he is in a book and not on a wall that is called the Roll of Honour, that baffles me,'' she said.
Ms McCarthy said the remembrance book was barely accessible, hidden behind glass casing, and she had only heard of its existence a few months ago.
With the help of the online group change.org, Ms McCarthy and Perth mother Avril Clark have collected 17,000 signatures on a petition calling for proper recognition of fallen peacekeepers.
They presented the petition to Admiral Doolan yesterday.
''It's the sheer fact that it is putting them alongside their comrades, beside the people they trained with and what they trained for,'' Ms McCarthy said.
Six years ago, Ms Clark started her own campaign to have her son included on the Roll of Honour.
Private Jamie Clark died while on peacekeeping duty in the Solomon Islands when he fell down a sinkhole. He was 21.
''He is a hero to me as his mum but the bottom line is that the whole time he was there he was always carrying weapons, he was always wearing radios,'' she said.
''He was there helping to stop war.''
Admiral Doolan said he would table the petition at the council's next meeting later this month.
A War Memorial spokesman outlined the strict rules for the Roll of Honour: it was reserved for those who have died during service as a member the Australian Defence Force, or as a result of that service.
They must have died during or as a result of service in a conflict classified as ''warlike service'', and have died between the defined start and end dates of that warlike service.
For conflicts commencing with Afghanistan in 2001, fallen soldiers must have died within two years of returning to Australia from that service to be included in the Roll of Honour.