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Launch of the Australian War Memorial's Memorial Box: Our War in the Pacific, 1942:\nTuesday 26 March 2002: Australian War Memorial: speech.

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Speeches The Hon Danna Vale MP   Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Federal Member for Hughes

The Hon Danna Vale MP Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence

At the launch of the Australian War Memorial’s Memorial Box: Our War in the Pacific, 1942

Tuesday 26 March 2002 Australian War Memorial

It is my great pleasure today to be here to officially launch the latest title in the Australian War Memorial’s series of Memorial Boxes.

The Memorial Box project has been an enormously popular and very successful venture since its inception nearly 10 years ago.

Memorial Boxes support our all-important task of ensuring young Australians understand and appreciate the significance of our wartime history and the contribution made to our country by those who have served in times of war and conflict.

We stand today in the heart of that commitment to our servicemen and women - our national shrine of remembrance and the storehouse of our wartime history collection.

I would consider my job well done if every child in Australia visited these halls. Unfortunately, the distances involved for many young Australians makes that a major challenge.

Instead, Memorial Boxes take our wartime history to them and give them a hands-on experience and insight into the experiences of Australians at war.

There are already six titles in the program. They are:

Australia in the first World War; ● For Service to Others; ● Too dark for the Light Horse; ● Australia under attack; ●

We want to do more; and ● Women in the defence services since 1945 ●

At any one time, there are 64 boxes in circulation around Australia.

The popularity of the Memorial Boxes has been such that the whole series has undergone a refurbishment and renewal program.

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Two of the boxes - Australia in the First World War and Australia under attack - have been duplicated so that more schools can have access to them, especially during the busy times around Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.

The teacher’s notes have also been updated and expanded to include detailed information on every Memorial Box item.

Now to the newest Memorial Box, titled Our War in the Pacific, 1942.

This box has been developed in response to the curriculum needs of high schools. Increasingly, these schools are focussing on the Second World War and the Pacific campaign.

In 2002, we mark the 60th anniversary of historic events in the Pacific campaign, including the Fall of Singapore, the Bombing of Darwin and many other towns and islands across Northern Australia, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the attack on Sydney Harbour, the Kokoda Track campaign and the Battle of Milne Bay, to name just a few.

Each is a significant event of the Second World War, but for us they also are reminders of the first and only time that Australians were called upon to defend their own shores in wartime.

And those who answered the call were, in the vast majority, the young men and women of our nation.

As with all of the Memorial Boxes, Our War in the Pacific,1942 is accessible to students of all ages. It combines hands-on items such as uniforms and hats with well-researched written material, recorded interviews and film footage, and references for further research.

Sixty years on it is increasingly important to capture the stories from the people who were there.

So this box includes a number of case studies and interviews with veterans and the relatives of veterans of Timor, Milne Bay, Kokoda and the sinking of HMAS Perth.

I am honoured today to acknowledge some of these veterans and relatives - our guests of honour for this launch.

Funding for this new Memorial Box has been provided through the Federal Government’s commemorations program, administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Our War in the Pacific, 1942 is a valuable addition to the Memorial Box series and I would like to congratulate Steve Gower and his staff for their ongoing work on this major project.

I am interested to inspect the box and I can tell you that we never had anything as exciting or visually attractive as a memorial box when I was at school.

As this will be a major educational tool for students, I am delighted that our special guests today include students from a number of schools throughout the local region.

It gives me great pleasure to invite Year 10 students from Yass High School, to present some highlights from the new Memorial Box, to whet the appetites of all students here, and throughout our nation, to learn more about the role played by our ex-servicemen and women

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in shaping our Australian way of life.


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