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'Profound reflection' on Aussie character

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Photo: Andrew Sheargold

Australians will learn more of their nation's military history when some precious World War I memorabilia from the Australian War Memorial is toured around the country to mark the centenary of Anzac.

The four-year commemoration is also expected to feature re-enactments of the first troop convoys that left from Albany in West Australia in November 1914. Australian war graves across the world will be cleaned up, and community and arts programs funded as part of the series of events.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who will attend today's dawn service in Gallipoli for the first time, announced yesterday the funding package of $83.5 million over seven years for the centenary program, during a stopover in Singapore.

She said the government wanted to make sure Australians could take part in events around the country and at historic battlegrounds around the world. ''The centenary of Anzac will be a time for profound reflection on events that helped define our Aussie character and the way we see ourselves in the world,'' she said.

''It will be a unifying moment in the life of our nation.''

The program is designed to mark the events, including the Gallipoli landings and major Western Front battles.

The Prime Minister believes Anzac Day in 2015 will be like the bicentenary.

''It will be one of the commemorations that shape our nation and our understanding of who we are today,'' she said.

''The centenary of Anzac will be an incredibly significant commemoration for Australia, for all of us.''

The refurbishment of the ageing World War I galleries at the Australian War Memorial is a central element of the centenary program, as reported first by The Canberra Times last week.

The delicate dioramas will be lifted to allow the area to be revamped and the battle scenes arranged in chronological order.

The Anzac centenary program will be developed and implemented in partnership with local governments, communities and ex-service organisations, as well as with state and territory governments and international partners.

Other programs being funded include:

■ a scoping study for a re-staging of the first convoys that left from Albany in November 1914 and carried Australian and New Zealand soldiers to Egypt and Gallipoli;

■ a local grants program to help communities carry out their own Anzac centenary commemoration projects, with funding available from next January;

■ an arts and culture fund to support individuals, artists and cultural institutions to develop commemorative displays and artistic creations that showcase our military history;

■ a multimedia education program that has broad community reach to help Australians learn more about our military history; and

■ funding for the establishment of the Anzac Interpretive Centre at Albany.

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