ANZAC Day is a special day for any veteran. But today will be a particularly special one for our peacekeepers. They now know, after long years of campaigning, that those among their ranks who died in the service of their country will finally be recognised on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial.
Contrary to what their name would suggest, peacekeepers are most needed where peace is most tenuous. They walk a delicate line, trying to keep warring factions apart and protect civilians, while exercising enormous restraint under strict Rules of Engagement that only allow them to use their weapons in very limited circumstances. It is a fraught and dangerous business; the risk of conflict is never far away.
Since 1947, 48 members of our Defence Forces have died while serving as peacekeepers for Australia. Up until now their names were not recorded on the Honour Roll reserved for other ADF deaths. Peacekeepers and their families felt this deeply. The lack of recognition made them feel their service was not valued, and their deaths meaningless.
But this has now changed. The Australian War Memorial Council made a historic decision earlier this year and peacekeepers' names will be listed. Soon, families will be able to find their names and leave a poppy in remembrance.
It has been a great privilege to be part of this campaign and I am very happy to see increasing recognition of the honorable and important work our peacekeepers do on our behalf. For more information about their amazing work in places like Rwanda and the Solomon Islands, you can read my speech last year .
When it comes to members of our Australian Defence Forces, I have a simple philosophy. If we are willing to ask people to serve and take risks on our behalf, then we must acknowledge their service properly, take full responsibility for what we ask of them and look after them and their families if they are injured or killed.
I hope, as we pause today to reflect on the sacrifices that so many have made for our country in the field of war, we will also take time to honour those who have died in the pursuit of peace.