Peacekeeper's names to be added to honour roll
Changing community perspectives on the nature of war in the modern world has prompted the Australian War Memorial to allow fallen peacekeepers' names to be etched in bronze on its hallowed walls.
The historic decision on Wednesday came after a concerted campaign by the relatives of peacekeepers who believed their service has not been sufficiently recognised. In a significant development, the change in policy was supported by representatives of the chiefs of all three armed services.
The criteria for names of service personnel who die on active service to be placed on the roll of honour will now include ''non-warlike'' as well as ''warlike'' operations.
The bronze panels of the roll record 102,000 names of Australians who have died serving the country in conflicts dating to the 19th century, while the names of the 48 peacekeepers and other personnel are in the remembrance book in an alcove at one end of the honour roll.
A new bronze panel will be installed on the roll to contain the names of service personnel who have died in non-warlike operations.
As well, the panels in the eastern cloister will be reorganised - the panels for Korea and Vietnam will be placed at the end of the World War II section and the panel for Afghanistan on the same wall.
Sarah McCarthy, from Canberra, who has led the campaign for change, said she and her family were over the moon.
''It's still very surreal, we can't quite
believe we've got here,'' she said. ''It feels like all our hard work has paid off and we've got exactly the result we wanted, we couldn't ask for anything more.
''When I was in year 7 I went on a school excursion to the War Memorial and I couldn't understand why my dad's name wasn't up there.
''It's been a painful issue for my family ever since and I'm just so pleased that common sense has finally won through.''
Her father, Captain Peter McCarthy, died in 1988 while serving as an unarmed military observer with the UN Truce Supervision Organisation in southern Lebanon.
Last November the memorial council received a petition with more than 17,000 signatures calling for a change to the longstanding policy. It was presented by Ms McCarthy and Avril Clark, from Perth, whose son, Private Jamie Clark, died in the Solomons in 2005.
''This is an incredible victory for people power'' Ms Clark said in a statement.
''My son and the 47 others like him will now finally win the recognition that they so thoroughly deserve.
''This means so much to me as a mum and I know it will be welcomed by the families and loved ones of the others who have died serving their country.''
The online petition now has more than 42,000 signatures.
Council chairman Rear-Admiral Ken Doolan said its members had been listening to the community.
''The preponderance of those putting their views to all members of council has been to support this change,'' he said. ''The nature of war has changed, the nature of conflict has changed, we are just reflecting what has actually changed over time.
''More to the point, we're going back to the founder of this remarkable institution.
''The [Charles] Bean philosophy was to recognise those who paid the supreme sacrifice and the supreme sacrifice means just that, losing your life in uniform of the Australian Defence Force in the service of your country.''
Memorial director Brendan Nelson described the decision as generational.
Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said at the announcement it was a timely change as Australia moved towards the centenary of the First World War. The council's decision reflected the views in the community, he said.