100 Years of Repatriation
Release date: 23 October 2018
In early 1917, Prime Minister Billy Hughes promised Australia’s armed forces: “When you come back, we will look after you”.
Following the end of World War I, tens of thousands of Australian soldiers returned from fighting in France, Belgium and the Middle East, many of them scarred or disabled, mentally and physically. Governments around Australia realised that a system of repatriation was necessary to prepare these soldiers for a return to civilian life.
This led to the establishment of the Commonwealth Repatriation Commission and Repatriation Department as well as Repatriation Boards in each state. The government provided war pensions, health care, education and training, employment, housing, soldier settlement, and remembrance and commemoration.
Their work continued in the wake of subsequent conflicts, from World War II to more recent military operations including in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as border protection and humanitarian assistance.
A century on, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (as the Repatriation Department is now known) and its state counterparts are still committed to maintaining and enhancing the physical and financial wellbeing of serving and ex-serving men and women and their families.
$1 Robert Semple OAM BEM
This stamp features Robert (Bob) Semple OAM BEM, 98, one of the last surviving Rats of Tobruk – the brave Australian soldiers who held the Libyan port for eight months in 1941 against the Afrika Korps. After Tobruk, Mr Semple fought at El Alamein, then in New Guinea and Borneo before he was honourably discharged in late 1945.
The photograph is from the collection of the Australian War Memorial.
$1 100 Years of Repatriation
This stamp features Able Seaman Elizabeth McCallum marching in Mornington, Victoria, with her then-95-year old grandfather Major Alec Weaver (Ret’d) during the 2017 Anzac Day parade. Major Weaver had a 34-year career in the Army, which included service in New Britain, New Guinea and Japan in World War II, as well as action in the Philippines and Korea, and two rotations in the Vietnam War.
The stamp photograph is by Peta Heffernan.