THE dedicated service of Australians on international peace operations is honoured today on National Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Day.
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester encouraged all Australians to recognise the estimated 65,000 servicemen and woman who have been involved in over 50 peacekeeping operations worldwide since 1947.
“Since Australia became involved in peacekeeping operations we have made an outstanding contribution, but tragically we have seen 16 lives lost in service of our country,” Mr Chester said.
“Peacekeeping operations in which Australia has been involved have lasted months, years or even decades, and have seen deployments ranging from small groups to substantial forces.
“Traditionally, peacekeepers serve in countries that have been destroyed by war but they have also been required to keep peace during times of election and to clear and teach local authorities to clear landmines.
“Australian peacekeepers have often served in hostile and volatile environments, including operations in Kashmir, Cyprus, the Middle East, East Timor, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bougainville.”
Over the past 55 years members of Australia’s police services have served in peacekeeping operations around the world.
This year is the 20th Anniversary of INTERFET in East Timor, Australia’s largest peacekeeping commitment. The Australian Government and people of Australia look forward to commemorating this important milestone in partnership with the Government and people of Timor-Leste, with Defence supporting activities in Dili from 18–20 September.
“We still have a number of service personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations around the world,” Mr Chester said.
“In recent times, peacekeeping has been an important, indeed sometimes the primary, concern of Australia’s defence force efforts.
“Along Anzac Parade in Canberra, you will find the memorial to Australian Peacekeepers. This memorial was inaugurated in 2017 and commemorates the service and sacrifice of all Australians who have served on peacekeeping or peacemaking missions around the world.”