Funding cuts forceAnzac Day changes

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

Albany RSL sub-branch has been forced to make cuts to this year’s Anzac Day commemorations because of reduced funding from the State Government.

Every year, Albany attracts thousands of people from across the country to its dawn service and parade, with the National Anzac Centre recently surpassing 175,000 visitors.

In January, then Veterans Minister Joe Francis announced a Lotterywest grant of more than $1 million to RSLWA for Anzac Day events but RSL Albany sub-branch president Geoff McNeill said about 15 per cent had still been cut from the usual budget.

Mr McNeill said the decrease in funds would mean amenities would be cut from the commemorative events, such as tents and seating for the elderly at the main service at Anzac Peace Park.

The sub-branch will also have to draw further from its own funds allocated to other services.

In an effort to continue the Anzac tradition, RSL Albany sub-branch president Geoff McNeill said they would have to turn to donation tins.

“We’re looking at a gold coin donation to cover bus services and hopefully the cost of the gun- fire breakfast will be covered by donations and that will leave some money free to cover services,” he said.

“We want to continue the content and the services at a standard that respects veterans, both past and present.

“And that’s really the important part and hopefully by doing that, we keep the tradition going.”

Newly appointed Minister for Veterans’ Issues Peter Tinley said he would be working closely with local MP Peter Watson to ensure appropriate Anzac Day commemorations in Albany continued. “Local RSLs, including Albany, are having to do more with less and in some cases, services have been scaled back,” he said.

“Albany’s Anzac Day commemorations are an important part of our State’s identity.

“We need to continue to recognise the integral role played by Albany in WA’s Anzac history.”

With no guarantee funding will be returned, Mr McNeill said they may have to consider sponsorship.

The City of Albany has maintained its funding support.

Chief executive Andrew Sharpe said the City allocated $60,000 to support the RSL with Anzac Day planning, marketing and programming.

“The City acknowledges the hard work of the RSL over many years to grow both the scope and quality of traditional Anzac Day commemorations in Albany,” he said.

“Given Albany’s deep connections to the Anzac story, the Anzac Day commemoration is important for the local community as well as visitors to the region and the City expects large crowds to attend traditional Anzac Day events this year.”

The RSL Albany sub-branch organises the dawn service, gunfire breakfast, parade and the main service.

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