Bad news on Rockingham dawn services
For the second year in a row, there will be no large-scale Anzac Day dawn services in the Rockingham area, even though services throughout WA are returning.
Bringing the community together to pay their respects to past and present serving members, this years ANZAC commemorations were highly anticipated after last year’s cancellation due to the pandemic.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.
But services hosted by the Rockingham RSL and the Totally and Partially Disabled Veterans have been scrapped, with both groups citing COVID restrictions.
Rockingham RSL president Ian Brook said COVID safe requirements meant there were “too many” restrictions in place for the event, which was the second- largest in WA.
“We usually get about 20,000 people at the dawn service . . . this would mean we would have to fence off the area, have a COVID sign-in point, hire static security guards and lighting,” Mr Brook said.
“We’d love to be able to do it, but it’s impossible given the requirements.
“We are a small RSL.
“We just couldn’t organise it and pay for it all.”
Instead the RSL is holding a ticketed-only service from 11am, which is capped at 300 people.
Totally and Partially Disabled Veterans secretary Chris Elliot said it was not “feasible” to hold the service, which usually attracts about 5000 people.
Mr Elliott labelled the restrictions a “logistical nightmare”.
“It’s really disappointing for us because we think it’s a really important day, but we just don’t have the infrastructure to do it” Mr Elliot said. “While people won’t be able to go to a dawn service, we hope they will go to the end of their driveways with a light to pay respect to the veterans and fallen — like we did last year.”
Local ex-serviceman Peter Harrington, who served in the navy for 25 years and has a long family defence history, said he was “baffled” by the decision.
“It was upsetting enough last year,” he said.
“Why is it OK to go to the footy or the rugby with thousands of people all sitting and standing close together, but we can’t go to a dawn service or march.”
In Kwinana, scaled-back commemorations will go ahead.
Kwinana RSL secretary Terry Rusden confirmed the gunfire breakfast, march and parade were all cancelled.
“Instead we will have the dawn service and 11th-hour service and there will be QR codes available and sign-in sheets,” he said.
“Both services will be open to the public and conducted with COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines in place. Attendees are encouraged to wear a mask.”
Veteran Issues Minister Paul Papalia said RSL WA sub-branches would “make their own decisions” with respect to Anzac Day services.
“This year they felt that meeting the safety requirements in a COVID environment was too onerous and so some have chosen not to have a public service,” Mr Papalia said.
“In addition many veterans are aged and/or have health vulnerabilities, which has also contributed to the decision.”
Services in Mandurah and across the metropolitan area, including in Kings Park, will still go ahead on April 25.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails