No dawn service for Navy because it is too risky in the dark

Updated April 10, 2019 18:51:52

A New South Wales Returned Services League sub-branch on the south coast says it is “beyond belief” that Navy personnel have been told they cannot march at the ANZAC Day dawn service in Nowra because it is too risky in the dark.

Key points:

  • Navy personnel were pulled out of this year’s Anzac Day dawn service in Nowra because a march was deemed too risky in the dark
  • The Navy has defended the decision due to safety issues brought about by darkness and said there are opportunities for other marches throughout the day
  • The Navy is also willing to review the matter

Personnel from the local naval base have been marching at the Greenwell Point service for 30 years.

Nowra RSL sub-branch president Fred Dawson said he was advised by officers from HMAS Albatross that the Navy this year decided to pull out of the commitment to mitigate the risk to personnel.

“It’s beyond belief, we are talking about armed forces, men trained to fight and look after themselves in very risky circumstances, marching down Greenwell Point Road under street lights has minimal risk factors involved,” he said.

“So from my perspective, sailors will be on parade in the nearby park waiting for the diggers to arrive, schools children will also be marching in the dark, but not serving personnel.”

Mr Dawson said he understands individual serving members want to march.

“This is not to do with the local sailors, they would want to march, this is some bureaucrat in Canberra, some civilian has said, the risk is too high,” he said.

Navy defends decision

Captain Fiona Sneath from HMAS Albatross Nowra defended the decision, and said the Navy is providing a guest speaker, a catafalque party and flag bearers.

Captain Sneath said a fresh set of eyes looked at the position this year and a concern was raised that the time of day could be a concern.

“It is not a usual thing that happens at a dawn service, the march is generally the thing that happens at the main marches later in the day,” she said.

“So there are a number of people there, there is darkness, and there were various people who looked at the conditions and an assessment was made based on usual procedure and potential safety.”

“I can understand the community concerns, and we do put our people in danger at times, but we do have an obligation that we reduce any risk as much as practicable.”

Captain Sneath said she is willing to review the matter.

“It might mean just having some more people to observe what is going on and are around to observe what is going on and make others who are marching in the squad aware that there is perhaps a pothole or move away from a particular obstacle,” she said.

It is not clear if it is happening at any other locations around Australia.

Topics: anzac-day, community-organisations, navy, safety, nowra-2541, greenwell-point-2540

First posted April 10, 2019 18:07:15

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