Plaque honours peacekeeping force

The heroic and legendary image of ANZAC diggers at Gallipoli, France and Belgium during World War I is burned into the minds of Australians each and every Remembrance Day.

Those who fought and died during the nation’s major conflicts are, and will always be, remembered by Australians for their sacrifice.

Now, a new plaque sits proudly on the north side of Ballarat’s Arch of Victory to acknowledge the contribution of the country’s peacekeeping forces.

Arch of Victory and Avenue of Honour committee president Bruce Price said Australia had a long and proud peacekeeping and peacemaking record in various parts of the worldf since 1947.

Unveiling the plaque yesterday alongside former Ballarat mayor and reservist medical officer Mark Harris, Mr Price said it was important to remember all those who served Australia overseas, including peacekeepers.

“We’ve needed to acknowledge the 40,000 Australians that have been involved in peacekeeping operations since 1947,” he said.

“There’s been about 70 or 80 peacekeeping operations Australia’s been involved in, including the very first United Nations peacekeeping operation in Indonesia.”

Since that operation in 1947, tens of thousands of Australian peacekeepers have been involved in operations including truce supervision, humanitarian aid relief, monitoring forces and training teams.

Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Australia has sent thousands of troops and police to conflict zones around the world, including East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dr Harris, who served as a medical officer in East Timor and Bougainville, said he was honoured to help unveil the plaque yesterday.

“It’s a privilege to have it here,” he said.

“Peacekeeping hasn’t been commemorated as much because the people in it think their service wasn’t war-like.”

“But there’s tens of thousands of people who have been involved since 1947.”