His Excellency Major General Michael
Jeffrey, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia; Hon.
Danna Vale MP, Minister for Veterans Affairs (representing the Prime
Minister) and Victorian Premier Steve Bracks were among the many
dignitaries present at the opening of the new Australian
Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Ballarat, Vic on Friday 6th
It was a magnificent affair for the Victorian country town, with
over 10,000 people attending the opening ceremony to help
commemorate the memories of Australian soldiers from the two World
Wars, the Boer War and the Korean War who were captured and held as
prisoners of war.
Among the other dignitaries on hand
for this magnificent occasion were General Peter Cosgrove AC MC
(Chief of the Defence Force); Catherine King MP, Federal Member for
Ballarat (representing the Leader of the Federal Opposition); Fred
Hodel (National President of the Ex-Prisoners of War Association),
Cr David Vendy (Mayor of the City of Ballarat); Major General Bill
Crewes OA (President of the RSL); Bill Schmitt AM (Patron in Chief
of National Ex-Prisoners of War Association); Mr David Baird OAM
(Chairman of the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Appeal
Committee); Brigadier David Welch (Director General Land Close
Combat Systems - representing the Chief of the Australian Army);
Captain Robert Richards (Commanding Officer HMAS Cerberus -
representing the Chief of the Navy); Air Commodore Rodney Luke
(Commander of Training Command - representing the Chief of the Royal
Australian Air Force) and Robert Doyle (Leader of the Opposition,
Among the many speeches, Cr David Vendy said "In the four theatres
of war featured in this memorial, where more than 35,000 Australians
had been held captive as prisoners of war.
Tragically, more than 8,000 of these brave young men and women never
made it home, succumbing to the disease, deprivation and brutality
of the respective camps.
Today provides a long-awaited opportunity for this nation to finally
pay its respects to Australia's prisoners of war.
The sheer number of names is staggering,
their sacrifice, courage and determination unforgettable".