From: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Subscription List
Sent: Mon 29/08/2011 8:59 AM

NEW PROGRAM TO MAINTAIN GRAVES OF OUR BRAVEST

The graves of recipients of Australia’s highest honours for bravery will be protected under a new maintenance program, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, announced today.

Mr Snowdon said the program would cover the Victoria Cross (VC), its equivalent civil award, the Cross of Valour, and the predecessor of the Cross of Valour, the George Cross.

“My Department, through the Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG), has continued to maintain official commemorations to a high standard for almost a century. However I have become aware that some private graves of our VC recipients are not covered by the current program,” he said.

“The new program, to be delivered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs through the OAWG, will provide for the maintenance in perpetuity of the graves of all Australian Victoria Cross, Cross of Valour and George Cross recipients, wherever they may lie.”

VC graves which are not currently covered by the existing program of official commemoration will be included, as will the graves of one New Zealand and 18 British VC recipients buried in Australia. The graves of George Cross and Cross of Valour recipients will also be covered under the new program.

Mr Snowdon said the new program is separate from the existing program of official commemoration.

“The new program recognises the significance of the recipients of these highest of awards in our nation’s heritage and, in including foreign recipients, acknowledges the significance of the honours in their own right.”

The VC for Australia is the pre-eminent award for acts of bravery in wartime and Australia's highest military honour. Until the Victoria Cross for Australia was created in 1991, Australians were eligible for the VC under the Imperial system of honours. The requirements are the same for both awards.

96 Australians have earned the VC. Two Australians have earned the VC for Australia, the most recent being Lance Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, VC, MG, of Perth, for actions in Afghanistan in June 2010.

The George Cross is the civilian counterpart of the VC and is awarded to civilians for ‘acts of the greatest heroism’ or to military personnel for actions that are not ‘in the face of the enemy.’ 22 Australians have earned the George Cross.

In 1975, the Cross of Valour became the pre-eminent Australian award for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril. There have been five awards of the Cross of Valour to date, most recently to Senior Constable Timothy Britten and Mr Richard Joyes, for their courage following the Bali bombing in 2002.

“The significance of these awards, and their recipient’s great achievements, warrants a dedicated national program to maintain the graves of their recipients in perpetuity,” Mr Snowdon said.

Families of recipients of the Victoria Cross, Cross of Valour or George Cross are encouraged to make contact with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs at GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au or by phone on 02 6225 4461.

Media inquiries:
Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203