RSL NSW says the future of Anzac Day is under threat and Australia's oldest veteran charity is calling on younger veterans to step up and join the RSL movement to save it.
Each year, commemorations are managed by dedicated RSL NSW veteran volunteers who manage about 600 events in communities across the state to ensure Australians don't forget the service and sacrifices of current serving members and veterans of the Australian Defence Force.
However, with almost 90 per cent of these volunteers now over the age of 55, of which more than 30 per cent are over the average life expectancy age, those who have long been responsible for events like Anzac Day won't be around to continue the tradition into the future.
"The Anzac tradition is a valuable part of Australia's history, but now we need to fight for its future," said RSL NSW President, Ray James.
"This year's commemorations are safe in the hands of our incredible members, but we need to take action now to keep these events going- and that's where younger veterans can help.
"Anzac Day not only acknowledges the service and sacrifice of our oldest veterans throughout history, but it's also a day to support our youngest veterans, and remember the 20-year conflict in the Middle East; the longest in Australia's military history."
This year's commemorations are the first face-to-face Anzac Day events without restrictions since the pandemic began. They are also the first since Australia's withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"We all have a responsibility to support our veterans and the broader veteran community. I encourage all Australians to attend and show up at Anzac Day commemoration and show their support - whether that's by attending a dawn service or march in your local community, lighting up the dawn in your driveway, or donating to the Anzac appeal," Mr James said.
"I am inviting all veterans of recent Middle East operations to join me in a place of prominence in Sydney CBD March this Anzac Day."
RSL NSW works to provide critical support, services and a supportive community for younger generations of veterans. Mr James said that recognising their efforts through commemorative events like Anzac Day are an important part of this work, which is why it must continue.
Australians are encouraged to further support veterans by purchasing an Anzac Appeal token from local RSL sub-Branch volunteers, Woolworths and Officeworks stores, or by donating to the Anzac Appeal securely online.
RSL NSW is working with its vast network of more than 300 sub-Branches to establish local commemorations that enable people to pay their respects this Anzac Day.
For a full list of RSL NSW sub-Branches and Anzac Day commemorative services, visit lightupthedawn.com.au to discover how you can honour our veterans with a moment of private reflection from home at 6am on Anzac Day.
You can also make a personal contribution by donating to the Anzac Appeal 2022.