Women will lead the charge at Anzac Day parades around the country this year, in the biggest shake up to the military day in recent history.
The Daily Telegraph reports that RSL branches in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne have decided to put women front and centre in a one-off show of support for thousands of female veterans who’ve previously gone unrecognised despite their contribution to the country.
It will be the first time many older women march as veterans after the official definition was widened last year beyond those that served overseas to any member of the defence forces who served home or abroad and was honourably or medically discharged.
The move is also a nod of support to thousands of women who worked for the defence force prior to the 1980s, when very few women were allowed to deploy overseas, but still contributed their lives to the military.
Parade organisers around the country are also taking a more active role in ensuring veterans are able to march towards the front of the parade and descendants of veterans stay at the back. Organisers hope it will help people more easily distinguish veterans from family members and give those who served the respect they deserve.
It’s the latest in a string of big changes to hit the annual parade in recent months.
In March, RSL ACT banned children under the age of 12 from marching with their grandparents in the state parade, and just days later, RSL Victoria said cars made before 2010 were no longer allowed in the parade unless they met new safety standards. That means many of the classic vintage army cars crowds are used to seeing will be replaced with newer models or civilian cars.
Further changes have also been instigated in NSW, where veterans have been banned from using taxis to transport themselves to and from the parade. They’ll be given golf carts instead.
The RSL says changes are to ensure the parade is as safe as possible for crowds, and that veterans are honoured in the right way.
Once again, they’re also reminding family members to make sure they pin their loved ones medals to the correct side of their chest to avoid any confusion on the day.
“Veterans and serving personnel wear their decorations on the left chest, over the heart,” RSL NSW said in a statement on their website.
“Many people choose to remember deceased relatives by wearing their medals. You are welcome and encouraged to wear your relative’s medals to Anzac Day. If you are wearing someone else’s medals please wear these on the right hand side of your chest.”