A Brisbane church leader wants politicians to focus on the welfare of returned soldiers during the first Anzac Day since the Afghanistan war withdrawal.
The needs of emotionally wounded returned soldiers should take priority over the building of more Anzac monuments, a Brisbane Anglican church leader says.
For the first time in more than a decade, Australia is holding dawn services without a large number of overseas troops on the frontline.
Australia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan late last year also means a large contingent of returned soldiers are suffering from post traumatic stress.
The Very Reverend Peter Catt says he’s alarmed by reports that the number of Aussie soldiers who have taken their lives since returning from Afghanistan is about three times higher than the 40 who have died in the conflict.
Mr Catt, the dean of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, says Anzac Day should make national leaders focus on the welfare of young war veterans instead of expensive plans to commemorate the 1915 Gallipoli landing.
“Certainly we should be looking after veterans’ needs first,” he told AAP.
“They put their lives on the line … and they come home and pay a dreadful consequence for it.”
Mr Catt says Australia can’t afford not to have a conversation about the post-traumatic stress dogging soldiers, especially when it can afford to spend some $300 million on commemorating the centenary of the Gallipoli landing.
A dawn service is being held at Brisbane’s Anzac Square on Friday followed by a parade in the city centre.
On the Gold Coast, 20 surfboat crews will raise their oars to scatter veterans’ ashes in the waves off Elephant Rock during a dawn service.