We still remember the brave sacrifices that our service men and women made for peace and for our country.
A century has passed since the start of the war, but one thing has not changed: we still remember the brave sacrifices that our service men and women made for peace and for our country. Not only is this century a time for Australians to remember the fallen, it is also a time for the world to reflect on the impacts of war. Sixteen million people died during the Great War, and such a loss of human life must never be repeated.
One could only imagine what it would have been like to read The Advertiser 100 years ago and to have been sitting in this place as an elected member listening to the official announcement in the parliament that Australia was now war. In 1914 Australia was a young and peaceful nation that had not yet seen the full atrocities of a war of this scale, and on this day 100 years ago no-one could have predicted the carnage, horror and loss of life that would follow.
As a parent I can only imagine the fear that South Australian families faced during this period, sending their children across the waters to foreign lands hoping and praying that they would return safely and unharmed. Unlike today, in a world of modern technology with social media and a 24-hour news cycle, these parents and families had to wait in anticipation for news of their loved ones. Would they receive a letter splattered with mud or would they receive the dreaded knock on the door to inform them that their child would not be coming home? In reality, one in five did not. Australia lost almost 2 per cent of its population during the war, with around 62,000 deaths. We had one of the highest casualty rates, proportionate to our population.
The war affected all communities. In my own electorate of Dunstan, the World War I memorial at the Norwood Primary School was, in fact, one of the first memorials to be constructed in Australia.
The obelisk was erected in 1916, and was designed by the school principal and built by the students. It was paid for by members of the local community, with families donating one penny per brick to pay for its completion. This was despite the government at the time limiting memorials to honour rolls.
In South Australia, we have seen our veterans community come together to commemorate the centenary of the Great War. I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in this mammoth task around the state. It shows that the RSL and veterans community, 100 years later, is playing a vital and everlasting role in ensuring the legacy of our veterans lives on.
Over the past 24 hours, tales of heroism, sacrifice and bravery have resurfaced and will continue to do so for the next 100 years. We truly live in the lucky country, and we are indebted to our servicemen and women. We will remember them.