The enduring Anzac spirit

‘For students, by students’: Honouring the Anzac legacy across NSW schools.

Image: From left to right: Maya Taib, Emily Gardner, Simone Walker, Lani Taylor and Keleinitesi Moala.

The Anzac spirit continues to play an integral role in the nation’s evolving identity with the realities and effects of war persisting for many Australians today.

That’s the message from Neva Mikulic, a Year 12 student at Sydney Girls High School, who delivered the Anzac Address at this year’s RSL and Schools Remember Anzac virtual commemoration.

“Today, there are Australians facing the ongoing psychological impacts of protecting our nation. There are families grieving inconsolable loss from a succession of conflicts. There are Australian servicepeople, including women and First Nations veterans, still involved in peacekeeping now in areas where freedom presents as a fragile right,” Neva said in her speech.

“In a multicultural nation especially, young people are attuned to this. Many of us have cultures and connections that have been disrupted due to war, or parents who have witnessed or fled from conflict overseas.”

The RSL and Schools Remember Commemoration sees students from all three education sectors in NSW come together to perform key roles in producing the service known as “for students, by students”.

The 2022 service was pre-recorded and delivered virtually again this year due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year the Cadet Unit from James Ruse Agricultural High School formed the cadet guard during the Act of Remembrance and was joined by students and schools representing the Independent and Catholic School sectors.

Commemorating the 107th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing at Anzac Cove, this year also marks the first Anzac Day since the withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan and 50 years since the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

This week the department remembered the soldier-teachers who served in the Australian Defence Force at the annual Anzac Day Commemoration, held on behalf of the RSL Teachers’ sub-branch.

Current and former teaching and non-teaching staff gathered at the department’s Parramatta office to remember the sacrifices made by Education staff in all conflicts and wars.

Image: Bugler Maya Taib.

The service was led by Year 11 student Lani Taylor from Bulli High School and featured digital performances from the NSW Public Schools Junior Singers.

The New Zealand and Australian National Anthems were performed by Keleinitesi Moala from John Edmondson High School and Emily Gardner from Hunter School of the Performing Arts. Maya Taib from Fort Street High School sounded The Last Post, signalling the one minute’s silence at the service.

Acting Secretary Simone Walker spoke at the service and highlighted the importance of reflecting on the past.

“In the quest for continual improvement in education, for preparing students for the future, we can forget the sacrifices made to allow us to educate our young in relative peace and prosperity,” Ms Walker said.

Speaking about the department’s memorials hanging in the Parramatta building, Ms Walker said they are an important reminder of those who served.

“It is important to see those names because we don’t honour the wars, we honour the individuals. For every name on these boards, there are many multiples of students who left for war, postponing the boundless potential of their futures.

“In so many instances, those students returned still young but damaged, distraught, or not at all.”

Read the Anzac Address by Year 12 student Neva Mikulic from the 2022 RSL and Schools Remember Anzac Commemoration here.

Image: World War II honour board.
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