Category Archives: Anzac Day

Perspectives on the Anzac Dawn Service: Remembering the Frontier wars

This year marked the 99th year of ANZAC remembrance. While many of us have found the “ANZACKERY[1]” of talk around this time of the year to be almost unbearable and have been inclined to hide away for the duration, it is inspiring to see that others are doing their bit to change the ANZAC conversation.

One of the most important challenges has come from Henry Reynolds and others, who are challenging us to connect the over-the top sepia toned ANZAC remembering to the lack of remembering, recalling respecting or even admitting to the wars that took place, not in a far off peninsular for king and mother country but on Australian soil. These wars were: bloody, and genocidal, they left deep and permanent scars that are still with us today; and they remain unrecognised in our formal war remembering infrastructure and rituals.

Dr Gary Foley challenges us to make this connection

In the process of the politicisation of Anzac Day and events almost a century ago on the Gallipoli peninsula, I feel that many Australians are further entrenching an attitude of denial about key aspects of their own history. They are seeking to divert attention away from earlier wars that had more to do with defining the Australian national character than Gallipoli did. By that I mean the colonial “wars” that many in Australia still have great difficulty in even accepting as wars.

Nelson claims that colonial conflict does not constitute what he and the War Memorial consider a “war”.  But, ironically Nelson and the War Memorial are much better disposed to the acknowledgement of Aboriginal involvement in the wars conducted by the Australian nation, even when some of those battles such as the Gallipoli campaign were more about fighting on behalf of Britain rather than Australia. This attitude reflects a broader national discomfort with the idea that Aboriginal warriors in the colonial era were fighting a “war”against an invading force

However, as prominent historian Henry Reynolds asserts, “If there was no war, then thousands of Aborigines were murdered in a century-long, continent-wide crime wave tolerated by government. There seems to be no other option. It must be one or the other.

This year a small band of people marched at the end of the rally to remember the Frontier wars. One of the participants in this event, Jasmine Pilbrow, has provided a moving account of her experience on her blog site. An extract from this account follows:

I’ve been to my fair share of protests and vigils. I’ve been out of my comfort zone and been confronted by injustice, oppression, occupation and discrimination. But this past ANZAC day in Canberra was one of the most emotionally confronting experiences I have had…

I was attending the march to be a part of, and support the Indigenous Australians in their fight for recognition of the Frontier Wars…

Here is an extract from Reynolds’ book:

“And while Australian servicemen and –women died for their country, with few exceptions they didn’t die on the continent itself. And that makes all the difference in the world. They were often the invader but never the invaded. They had no experience of the profound and terrible trauma of conquest. They never saw their homes overrun and wrenched from them by force. Never saw their sacred places occupied and desecrated. They didn’t have to come to terms with imposed conditions that made the old way of life unsustainable. They never knew the despair that arose when the conquerors displayed outright contempt for their language, culture and traditions. And while Australian soldiers saw many mates killed in battle, their families were, in almost every case, living in safety far from the conflict. Aboriginal survivors, on the other hand, had seen their children, partners and parents shot down or watched while they died from traumatic, untreated gunshot wounds. Before they conceded defeat they had lived for years under a reign of terror….

We meet at 10am, ready to join the end of the ANZAC day March procession….

We were carrying signs which read “Lest we forget the Frontier Wars”, placards with the dates of massacres throughout Australia and the Indigenous flag. We were mourning the deaths of those who fought in the Frontier Wars. We were not there to protest or oppose ANZAC day; we were there to pay our respects to all those who fought. As we marched the servicemen and women in front of us (including a massive U.S. flag) all marched into the War Memorial where the service was to commence. I did not see one Indigenous flag go through. Once we reached the entrance we were blocked by a row of policemen. This was as far as we could go. This was the extent to which we were allowed to remember the dead….

Standing there, face to face with the police, we simply stood. With our signs in hand and the beautiful signing of the words ‘lest we forget’ by some ladies in the group, we remembered the Frontier Wars.

We stood there unable to move forward. While we stood Tony Abbott’s face was broadcasted on big screens as he addressed the crowd.

At the time I felt defeated. I was shattered. We couldn’t do anything. We weren’t there to protest. We weren’t there to chant or disrupt ANZAC day. We were there to remember.

How could that be denied to us?

How come Indigenous people were not allowed in but the United States flag went right through?

We then turned around and walked back….

That afternoon we had a group discussion about the march. I had been feeling pretty down and shattered with our country. …When we discussed the day many people raised different things. What I took away and learnt from that discussion was the complete opposite to how I originally felt. We didn’t fail. We were not defeated. This action was one of the most successful actions I’ve been a part of. When we marched along the parade we were shown support. As the crowd watched everyone in front of us go through, they then saw the police move in and stop us. The lack of respect and second class treatment that Indigenous Australians received was highlighted so strongly in those moments. The people in the crowd witnessed this injustice. This action caused people to think and really question what was happening.

It is my hope that this has started a new campaign and that in our 100th ANZAC year this small start becomes amplified.

[1] David Stephens, from Honest History at the ANU uses this term, first coined in 1967, to refer to ‘inflated rhetoric that has burnished the story of the Dardanelles campaign into a national myth”,6416


WILPF News Update ACT Branch

Updates from WILPF International

Women’s Power to Stop War

Women’s Power to Stop War is a new movement created and led by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Those joining the movement, will be part of an international community of courageous activists, who believe conflicts and wars cannot be stopped without the participation of women – and that it is time that women focus on and use their power to stop war.

Its aim is not just to stop war on women, but also to stop war on all human beings, who wish to live a life of peace and freedom.

Keep checking the WILPF International website as more will be posted including blogs, videos, our Anniversary Atlas and all the details on the events of 2015.

Centenary of WILPF

In 1915, 1136 visionary women came together in The Hague, the Netherlands, to stop World War I and on April 28, they founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

In 2015, 1136 visionary women will again come together to participate in the second women’s peace and security conference of a century, uniting the global movement, ‘Women’s Power to Stop War.

The conference will take place from 27-29 April in the World Forum in The Hague. Keep an eye on this website as the Conference Programme, ticket registration pages and loads of other information will come up soon!

Join the Movement now and Sign the Pledge, Donate, and Come to The Hague in 2015

A Letter to all WILPF members from the WILPF International History group

Dear WILPF sisters in most of the corners of the world:

The WILPF Centennial 2015 is rapidly approaching and preparations are under way. All sections have been asked to work on their own history as a contribution to the large and impressive history of WILPF as a whole. The IB has established some working groups and given them specific tasks. The “History Group” is one of them. We have been given the mandate to

  • Support the Sections’ work on their story gathering
  • Coordinate and gather information from the Sections that could be used for printed

Material, exhibitions etc. at the international Triennial Congress and International

Conference (in 2015)

  • ‘Plan “Our Story” exhibition at The Hague and coordinate with the Arts and entertainment working group.

While all national sections are “branches” on the many-splendored WILPF tree we are united in the principles of our Constitution. All sections are committed to engage in common activities, but they differ in size, resources, geographic location and political environment and have to adjust their activities accordingly. Each section should write its story in the way that suits best their narrative, the highlights and – if any – the failures. If we shall be able to learn from the past, we need to look at both ends of the scale.

However, we need a common overview and a few facts for the whole organization, as a framework. For that reason we would ask all Sections to send us the following:

  • Your Section’s major historic events. This includes your founding date, at what time your Section had its largest membership, as well as any major historic highlights you want to tell us about. These stories can take any shape, form or length you would like. They can be highly personal or strictly descriptive, but please include the (most) exact date and location of the events you describe, so we can include them in our Anniversary Atlas.
  • Work you are already doing on your own history. We have heard many Sections are already engaged in discovering and celebrating their own history, but we want to know about it! Tell us if you have already done any work on your history or are planning to do so. If these include any specific events, like a lecture organised specifically on the history of your Section, please, again, include the (most) exact date and location of such events.

WILPF Questions especially for sections outside Europe

WILPF International is asking individuals, branches and sections to consider their priorities using a set of 6 Questions.  They have explained the purpose of this as follows:

Nearly 100 years ago, founders of WILPF, in 1915 drafted 20 resolutions to influence policy and decision makers.  ALL sections have an opportunity to contribute to this discussion on WILPF’s political priorities and future direction. In preparation for the 2015 WILPF Centenary, the Working Group on Political Content is given the task of identifying the political priorities for our work now and in the future.

In January 2013 the International Board meeting in Madrid commissioned Cynthia Cockburn, UK member to draft a Manifesto for 2015.  With her work, we now have a second draft based on input from, and conversations with, many WILPF members.

We need your help. The draft manifesto is a very good job combining the effort of some of our members and through interviews. However, we want to ensure input of missing perspectives, especially from the various knowledge and experience at a local level and in armed conflict areas. We want to hear from countries outside Europe and North America, if not yet included, so that these experiences can be added or made more visible.

Note I am sending out a separate email to all WILPF ACT members outlining the progress we have made to date in responding to these questions and seeking further input.

Reports of interest: Syria

 Maria Butler, PeaceWomen Programme Director reports on the Syrian Peace negotiations:

 This is a difficult time for peace advocates. How can we talk about women participating at the peace table when talk has not translated into action? How can we discuss the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda when, despite rhetoric, goodwill, ministerial support, UN mediation, advocacy, campaigns, Syrian women are not even present at the opening session of the Geneva II talks, not to mention at the infamous “table”?

Over the past few weeks, I have heard diplomats tell me, with a tone of insider arrogance, “this is not a round table; it has two sides only”. I have heard Ambassadors agree and agree and then agree again with each other that women must be part of the Geneva II process but then their States have not delivered. I have heard colleagues try to convince themselves that negotiation “observers” are actually “at the table”. Next holding a conference two weeks ahead of the Peace Talks will count as “participating”! All in all, we, as an international community of States, NGOs and UN bodies, have failed – failed to implement the WPS agenda and failed to find mechanisms to include women. Despite this collective failure, we will not resign. To the contrary, we, as WILPF for sure, will redouble our work, rethink our efforts and recommit our support to push forward women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and rights in this peace process and others.

 Friday January 17, 2014 was indeed a historic day for Syrian women, despite now being in the shadow of the failures in Geneva. Three Syrian women civil society leaders briefed the UN Security Council in a special closed Arria Formula meeting demanding women’s meaningful inclusion in the Geneva II peace talks and ongoing transitional peace processes. “We want peace and we want to be part of it. This is the bottom-line,” said a representative of the Syrian Women’s League to the highest body on international peace and security. PeaceWomen planned and organized the women peace advocates’ trip, a side event and the historic Security Council meeting. A powerful moment came when one of Syrian women looked up at the Ambassadors of the Security Council and pleaded “Do not leave your resolutions in a drawer, they do not deserve only lip service” The three Syrian women, who risked their lives to speak truth to power, demanded passionately: 1) an independent women civil society presence at the Geneva II talks; 2) 30% women on all negotiating bodies; and 3) strong and effective gender expertise to ensure that gender is mainstreamed throughout all outcome documents and processes. Read more

Events of Interest

 21-25 April: Canberra Peace Convergence.

An extended gathering of peace activist and peace makers to reflect on the state of peace in our times, to build movement and to plan and take action for peace in this time of militarism, government lies and preparations for war.

Events will include

  • The first national meeting of IPAN on 21 April. Likely at a Canberra venue.
  • A one-day conference hosted by IPAN on 22 April covering such themes as militarism and sustainability, the cost of the US alliance, the Asian Pivot and US bases. Venue and program to be announced.
  • Movement response to the Gallipoli centenary 2015.
  • A three day, open forum retreat at Silver Wattle
  • A direct action together likely on morning of 24 April
  • Participation in the Anzac eve Peace Vigil at the Australian War Memorial 24 Apr
  • Participation in the “Lest We Forget” the Frontier Killings Anzac Day March at the Australian War Memorial.

Costs $50 or $25 concession

Register your interest in attending at

 25-27 April 2014. : WILPF Asia-Pacific regional meeting, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

Theme:  Militarisation in the Pacific: women, peace and security

Draft programme

Friday 25 April

  • Welcome at 12 noon, followed by lunch
  • Informal information sharing session where people will be able to speak about the situation in their country.
  • Friday evening there will be a public screening of the documentary Noho Hewa about militarisation, historical and ongoing colonisation, and its devastating effects on Kanaka Maoli, the indigenous people of Hawaii, and their land.

Saturday 26 April

  • Mixture of workshops, plenary presentations and panel discussions.
  • Public Meeting – details to be confirmed

Sunday 27 April

  • Morning session: WILPF business, in particular, the 100th birthday in 2015 and the possibility of the Asia-Pacific WILPF sections working together as a regional grouping within International WILPF.
  • We would also like to develop a project that the Asia-Pacific WILPF sections could work on together – there are likely to be ideas for that from the sessions on Friday and Saturday.

Articles of Interest

Simon Jenkins: Germany, I apologise for this sickening avalanche of first world war worship, The Guardian, Friday 31 January 2014

The festival of self-congratulation will be the British at their worst, and there are still years to endure. A tragedy for both our nations.  Highly relevant to Australia re ANSAC Centenary.

Report by Cynthia Enloe on Geneva each day of the Syrian Women’s Peace Talks in Geneva: Prelude to the Official Syrian Peace Talks. Monday, January 20, 2014

Books of Interest

Gender, Violence, and Human Security: Critical Feminist Perspectives Edited by Aili Mari Tripp, Myra Marx Ferree, Christina Ewig, Amazon Books 2013

The nature of human security is changing globally: interstate conflict and even intrastate conflict may be diminishing worldwide, yet threats to individuals and communities persist. Large-scale violence by formal and informal armed forces intersects with interpersonal and domestic forms of violence in mutually reinforcing ways. Gender, Violence, and Human Security takes a critical look at notions of human security and violence through a feminist lens, drawing on both theoretical perspectives and empirical examinations through case studies from a variety of contexts around the globe.

This fascinating volume goes beyond existing feminist international relations engagements with security studies to identify not only limitations of the human security approach, but also possible synergies between feminist and human security approaches. Noted scholars Aili Mari Tripp, Myra Marx Ferree, and Christina Ewig, along with their distinguished group of contributors, analyze specific case studies from around the globe, ranging from post-conflict security in Croatia to the relationship between state policy and gender-based crime in the United States. Shifting the focus of the term “human security” from its defensive emphasis to a more proactive notion of peace, the book ultimately calls for addressing the structural issues that give rise to violence. A hard-hitting critique of the ways in which global inequalities are often overlooked by human security theorists, Gender, Violence, and Human Security presents a much-needed intervention into the study of power relations throughout the world.

Programs of Interest

Honest History on the ABC

Starting Tuesday, 4 February, 10.05 am on 666 ABC Canberra, mobile and online: Honest History fortnightly segment opening with Professor Joan Beaumont (Broken Nation) talking about the aftermath of World War I.

Honest History is a new regular segment on 666 ABC Canberra Mornings with host Genevieve Jacobs. Shibboleths will be shafted and myths will be busted during a robust and honest history discussion.

The segment is in cooperation with Honest History and the participation of various distinguished historians.

Tune in to Mornings with Genevieve Jacobs, weekdays from 9–11am on 666 ABC Canberra. Radio. Mobile. Online.

Websites of Interest

The Honest History site promotes balanced consideration of Australian history, by making contesting, evidence-based interpretations available to students, teachers, universities, journalists and the public. We challenge the misuse of history in the service of political or other agendas.

An Invitation from the Community of the Canberra Anzac Eve Peace Vigil, 2013

We send greetings and a heartfelt invitation to you, and/or to all members of your group, to join us in ceremony and song at the third lantern-lit Canberra Anzac Eve Peace Vigil, from dusk on Wednesday, April 24.

With each successive Vigil on the eve of Anzac Day, our contemplation of the sufferings in Australia’s war involvements is deepening, with particular recognition and sorrow for the ongoing trauma to Aboriginal peoples in the wake of Australia’s Frontier Wars;  and an encompassing compassion for dispossessions, exiles, and emotional injuries associated with conflicts and their refugees throughout the world today.

This year, a ceremonial focus is the kindling of the Peace Fire at the Aboriginal Memorial, embers of which will light the lanterns and Welcome to Country ceremony at the top of Mt. Ainslie, light the community gathering and smoking ceremony at Remembrance Park, and light the walkers’ way to the all-night Peace Vigil at the end of Anzac Parade.

As we walk, sing, share poetry and stories, and make ceremony together, we remember that almost everyone in Australia has a family story of trauma and loss through war and, for many, dispossession.  The Peace Fire gives expression of light and blessing upon our hopes for a safe, united and happy future, for our children and all our descendants.

(We draw attention to our recommendation for participants to wear warm clothing, bring a portable chair, mug for soup, and rug if needed.)

Honey Nelson,  (contact)

Johanna McBride,  (musical coordinator)

Graeme Dunstan,  (lantern-maker)

A Chorus of Women, Poets for Peace,