This month marks a significant milestone as the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Ballarat commemorates 20 years since its opening.
A special service to honour the occasion will be held at the memorial (Carlton Street, Lake Wendouree) from 11.30am on Sunday, 11 February, to be attended by dignitaries, veterans, and the public.
The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial was inaugurated by General Peter Cosgrove AM, MC, and witnessed by more than 11,000 people, including His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, AC, CVO, MC (Ret’d), the Governor General, and the Honourable Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria.
The memorial was the first dedicated tribute in Australia to the brave ex-prisoners of war and was the culmination of more than eight years of planning.
The idea for the memorial was sparked during a Remembrance Day ceremony in 1996, where remarks were made about the need for a more fitting tribute to Australian prisoners of war and their families.
City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said from those initial conversations a committee was formed and weekly meetings were held to bring the spectacular vision to life.
“The City of Ballarat is very proud of our many war memorials across the municipality, but this particular space is extra special – supported by the fact that it attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year,” he said.
“The memorial stands as a testament to the pain and suffering endured by all prisoners of war, honouring the thousands of mates left behind and recognizing the sacrifices made by families during wartime.
“It proudly displays 36,400 names of Australian ex-POWs on a 130-meter-long granite wall, serving as a powerful reminder of their courage and resilience.”
Renowned sculptor Peter Blizzard created the memorial using natural stone materials, including basalt and granite.
The construction of this significant tribute was made possible at the time by a generous $1.1 million donation from Tattersall’s and the Estate of the late George Adams.
Additional support from the Federal and State Governments, the City of Ballarat Council, and donations from various businesses and individuals raised a further $900,000.
Invitations have been distributed for the 20th anniversary event, however the community is also welcomed to attend.
Please note that only standing room will be accessible to the general public. Shade will be limited, so Council has requested that attendees dress appropriately for the weather, stay SunSmart, and bring umbrellas for shade if needed.
“I’d encourage residents to join us in honouring the legacy of our ex-prisoners of war at the Australian Ex-POW Memorial in Ballarat,” Cr Hudson said.
“Together, let us remember their sacrifice and pay tribute to their enduring spirit.”