From: Phil Pyke
Sent: Tuesday, 20 September 2011 2:07 PM

Inequality in death

The recent death of Craftsman Beau Prideau in a vehicle crash highlights the ongoing dangers of peacekeeping operations even in places like Timor and the Solomon Islands.

However, it is with his sad passing, I am reminded that the Craftsman, and the others who die on what is termed in the bureaucratic sense as non-warlike operations, will not have his name placed on the Roll of Honour in the cloisters at the Australian War Memorial (AWM). Instead his name will be placed in a book in a locked cabinet hidden in a corner at the AWM.

C.E.W. Bean’s intent at the time of the opening of the AWM was that all will be equal in their sacrifice to our nation – without rank, post nominals or gallantry awards. The concept of peacekeeping (or warlike or non-warlike operations) never existed at that time so the focus was on those who died in war.

In contrast the National Police Memorial recognised in its design that part of the grieving process is to touch the names of the deceased. Therefore the names of each officer are on touchstones. Similarly the Roll of Honour at the AWM affords the same opportunity – unless one dies on a non—warlike peacekeeping operation.

The absurdity of this bureaucratic debate is that if a soldier was to die in Afghanistan in a vehicle crash, their name would be included on the Roll.

It is time for the Government and the AWM to change this inequality and place the names of those who die on peacekeeping operations on the Roll of Honour where they rightly belong.