ANZAC DAY shrine march 2021 Melbourne plans

A senior Victorian RSL representative has shared his dismay at the disorganisation surrounding Melbourne’s Anzac Day preparations, labelling the months of oscillating discussion as “confusing”.

The Victorian government this week approved 7500 veterans and descendants to take part in the event this Sunday.

Around 1600 people have registered so far, with many others opting to attend suburban events across Melbourne.

RSL Victoria state president Rob Webster said he was disappointed by the numbers that had registered so far.

“I think it has been a bit of a turn-off, but they made decisions to march locally in a lot of cases and we understand that,” he said.

“It has been a little confusing and I suppose that’s probably the nicest thing to say at the moment.”

The government came under fire in the months leading up to this year’s event due to the drastic difference in numbers approved for the dawn service and an AFL match on the same day.

The state originally capped the dawn service at 1400 people but changed the numbers on Wednesday – four days before Anzac Day.

For last-minute walk-ins, QR codes will be available from 7.30am on Sunday without having to register.

“We would encourage as many as can come in, but we’re very conscious of the lack of the immunisation rollout,” Mr Webster said.

“The Second World War guys are also still a bit wary about coming, not having had their immunisations yet.”

This year’s event also falls on the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force, with members of the RAAF leading the CBD commemorative march.

Vietnam veteran Max McGregor said while he was disappointed there would be lower numbers than usual this year, it didn’t change the meaning of the day for him.

In 2019 the CBD event had 11,500 people.

“I’ll still have the same feeling when I’m marching – it’s an incredibly special day,” Mr McGregor said.

“I’m marching because there’s people that didn’t come home, there were people who came home wounded, physically and mentally.

“That’s our embodiment, that’s what we do.”

RAAF Air Commodore Greg Frisina said the day would also continue to be special for him despite the complications the pandemic was posing to the country.

“For me, on Anzac Day, if we look at our value of service, it talks about selflessness of character to put the nation and its people’s interest before yourself,” he said.

“And from my point of view, I take that vow again.

“It’s a reminder of what I signed up for some 36-and-a-half years ago.”

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