The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon is encouraging all Australians to recognise the ongoing contribution of our peacekeepers on Australian Peacekeepers Day.
Today marks 64 years of Australia’s contribution to peace operations around the world, starting with the first United Nations peacekeeping mission in 1947.
A ceremony was held in Canberra today at the site of the future Australian Peacekeeping Memorial on Anzac Parade.
Mr Snowdon said Australia has a proud record of peacekeeping and peacemaking, participating in more than 50 United Nations and multi-national operations.
“Currently, almost 600 Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Police personnel are deployed in operations across the globe in locations including the Middle East, Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and Sudan,” Mr Snowdon said.
“Today is an opportunity for Australians to reflect on the important role of our peacekeepers and peacemakers in providing support and assistance to victims of conflict, often in unstable and dangerous locations.”
Australia’s peacekeeping roles have included military observation, logistics support, ceasefire monitoring, landmine clearing, supporting democratic elections, humanitarian aid and repatriation of refugees.
“Men and women from the Australia Defence Force, the federal and state police forces and Australian Government agencies have all been involved in our long history of peace operations,” Mr Snowdon said.
The Australian Government is continuing its support for our peacekeepers and peacemakers by funding a University of Melbourne study that investigates the long-term effects on mental health and quality of life of ex-serving Defence Force peacekeepers deployed from the 1990s to 2002.
It will consider Australian involvement in places such as Rwanda, Somalia, Cambodia, Namibia, Western Sahara and East Timor. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
Media Note: Images are available from the DVA Media Centre www.dva.gov.au/media
Minister Snowdon: Marcus Butler 02 6277 7820
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203