Federal Minister for Agriculture and New England local, the Honourable Barnaby Joyce MP, has agreed to act as Ambassador of Frontline New England, a University of New England initiative to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War.
Frontline New England will bring together schools, community organisations, councils and local representatives from around the region with a series of events and activities held in memory of Australian experiences, both on the front and at home.
Mr Joyce expressed his enthusiasm to be a part of Frontline, which he described as an extremely important initiative for the region.
“The First World War had a truly devastating impact on our nation, particularly so in rural and regional areas such as the New England.
“Frontline New England is about the connections each of us has with this momentous time in our history. It is a time to remember, but also to learn about our history and the stories of our family members who lived through the war.
“Both of my grandfathers were World War I veterans and therefore the commemoration of the War has great personal significance for me, as I am sure it will have for many others in the New England.”
A major part of Frontline New England is New England History Week, which will take place in August to mark the beginning of recruitment for the Australian Imperial Force and the launch of the Australian Red Cross. New England History Week will include the Regional Australia at War public conference, and the Booloominbah Red Cross Convalescent Home public exhibit.
Another part of New England History Week will be Schools Remember. New England History Week Committee member, Jessica Lewis, says Schools Remember is a commemorative ceremony held specifically for the primary and secondary schools of the New England region.
“This ceremony will be unique because it will be conducted largely by the students, with an aim to foster the continuation of the ANZAC legacy,” Miss Lewis said. “Each school will have the opportunity to lay a wreath, and the keynote speakers will be students. The local Armidale RSL sub-branch is working with us to coordinate this event.”
As part of the Frontline New England activities, UNE will also work towards preservation of important documents and images, offering scanning and archiving of family items such as letters and photographs.
The Frontline New England website and Facebook page will provide information on local commemorative events as well as detailing how people can contribute their own family’s history to join the broader community story.
Photograph: The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP with the New England History Week Committee, Elizabeth Egan, Dr Nathan Wise and Jessica Lewis