Tension over 'non-warlike' deaths
Veterans of peacekeeping and humanitarian missions have expressed anger at the Australian War Memorial's refusal to put the names of their dead on the roll of honour.
There have been 48 Australians killed in ''non-warlike'' deployments since the Vietnam War.
The roll of honour records the names of Australia's war dead on bronze panels outside the Hall of Memory.
But the names of those killed in peacekeeping missions are not currently added to the panels.
Association national president Allan Thomas said the memorial and the federal government were treating those who died on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions as ''equal in service, but unequal in death''.
''The Australian War Memorial neglects to realise that these blokes who do deploy on peacekeeping duties, even though they are not encountering any danger from hostile forces, provide that operational aspect on behalf of the Australian community,'' Mr Thomas said.
''What we're asking for is for the Australian War Memorial to recognise these people who do die because of their service outside of Australia,'' he said.
Eligibility for the roll is determined solely by the memorial council.
The current criteria states that the names of those who die in post-1945 conflicts will only be added if they had served in ''conflict classified by the Department of Defence as warlike service''.
Those serving in East Timor, for example, were only eligible to be included on the roll of honour from September 1999 to August 2003, when hostilities were deemed to have ceased.
Mr Thomas said the policy failed to recognise the shifting nature of warfare, in which peacekeeping and non-warlike missions were increasingly common.
He said that such missions did not exist when the memorial was first opened in the 1940s.
''Those whose names appear on the honour roll did die in war and deserve that recognition, but the world has now moved on, with different types of operations,'' he said.
Mr Thomas said the memorial currently adds the names to a book, which is locked in a cabinet at the memorial.
He said the idea that a peacekeeper who died in a car crash on a peacekeeping mission would be treated differently to a soldier who dies the same way in the Middle East was absurd.
He said the Australian War Memorial was underestimating the ''growing anger'' over their stance. It's a bureaucratic issue and it's all got to do with funding,'' he said.
The Canberra Times sought comment from the Australian War Memorial yesterday, but did not receive a response.