ANZAC Day services will again be limited because of the McGowan government’s COVID restrictions despite rules being relaxed for recent sporting events.
A 10,000 person cap has been placed on the Kings Park dawn service this year – down from the usual 30,000 – and some RSL sub-branches have been forced to cancel events.
More than 50,000 fans watched the West Coast Eagles take down Collingwood in the stands of Optus Stadium on April 16.
But RSLWA chief executive John McCourt said that while the move was “too much to handle” for some ANZAC Day organisers, comparing the football with dawn services is like “comparing apples and oranges.”
“Just because some of those restrictions were lifted to allow people to go to the football, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can switch it on again because we’re planning for smaller crowds with significant logistical requirements,” Mr McCourt said.
Western Australians commemorated ANZAC Day in 2020 on their front lawns in the middle of the lockdown, with thousands lighting a candle and turning on the radio to listen to The Last Post.
Former army engineering officer Ted Leunig is looking forward to continuing those “intimate” events despite formal dawn services returning.
“I don’t need to be in a crowd of 10,000 people to appreciate it (ANZAC DAY),” Mr Leunig said.
“I can get up by myself and it will mean just as much to me.”
“I do think it’s good as a community that we’re back in front of the shrines and people have the opportunity to recognize ANZAC Day in any form they want.
“Whether that be at Kings Park, or at the local RSL, or on the front lawn with a couple of neighbours; all of those are valid ways of commemorating.”
Mr McCourt says in 2021 it’s not only “critically important” to recognise the service of veterans, but the fact these public events can be held at all.
“We know we still have COVID restrictions, but at least we’re allowed to do it compared to last year when no one was allowed to get out and about,” Mr McCourt said.
“It’s important for the validation of veterans and they are respected for the commitment they made to their country.”