Anzac Centenary advisory group includes UNE historian

Published 19 March 2012

A social historian at the University of New England has been chosen as a member of an expert group that will advise the Australian Government during preparations for the Anzac Centenary celebrations to begin in 2014.

Associate Professor Melanie Oppenheimer is the author of several books on the war-time work of Australian women, including Australian Women and War (2008) and Oceans of Love: Narrelle, an Australian Nurse in World War I (2006). She has also written books on volunteering, and is currently writing a history of the Australian Red Cross, commissioned by Red Cross itself.

Her Anzac Centenary group, which will focus on military and cultural history, is one of six groups of experts appointed to support the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board. The other five groups will provide advice on education and curriculum, business, ceremonial and commemorations, youth, and engagement with State, Territory and local governments.

“Our work will continue through to 2018,” Dr Oppenheimer said. “There will, of course, be something special at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 2015, and comparable events in Australia. But other important war-related anniversaries will also be commemorated. It’s a very ambitious program.”

The group held its first meeting in February, and will meet next on the 30th of April. Its other members include Professor Mick Dodson AM, Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University, Dr Peter Pedersen, head of the research centre at the Australian War Memorial, and Wendy Sharpe, Australia’s first woman war artist.

In announcing the appointment of the groups, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac, Warren Snowdon, said: “The group members are Australians from all walks of life, and include historians, business leaders, Vice-Chancellors, singers, teachers, artists and Victoria Cross recipients.”

“I look forward to the contributions of the members of these groups and the experience, energy and enthusiasm they will bring to our planning for the Anzac Centenary,” he said.

Dr Oppenheimer is keen to emphasise the significance of the birth of the Australian Red Cross at the outbreak of World War I. “Red Cross is one of the most positive outcomes of Australia’s involvement in World War I,” she said. “I won’t let this opportunity to make people aware of it be missed.”

Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of Associate Professor Melanie Oppenheimer.