David Kaczan
St Ignatius College
South Australia

"We all have so many things in common, particularly the common values we all have as Australians "

These common values are the qualities that have become an integral part of the Australian person regardless of their ancestry. Mateship, dedication, determination, integrity, honour, "the ability of ordinary people to do extraordinary things" in extreme situations, just like the Aussies and Kiwis who found themselves in a war situation vastly different to what they had imagined. "Australia was born a nation during federation, but in spirit at Anzac cove, 1915." This spirit lives on, in the values of everyday Australians, by being the qualities that are imbedded into Australians, and in our sense of history. Many people display these qualities, especially "while working in adversity" just like our Anzac legends.

"There are many things that make up the matrix of Australian values and one of those is our great spirit of volunteerism."

The greatest Australians displaying those qualities first recognized at Anzac Cove were those working for no benefit to themselves, just to help achieve something for their community, our country, or any other group of people needing help. The people we know as great Australians were often volunteers, or started as volunteers. Look at John Flynn, founder of the non-profit Royal Flying Doctor Service. A man described as possessing three things: A faith in God, a faith in mankind, and an incredible drive and determination. The war historian C.E.W Bean suggests that the spirit of Anzac was to have "stood, and still stands, in reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat ". This spirit was displayed by Simpson Kirkpatrick. Bravery, mateship and sacrifice, always putting others before self Flynn had a vision, and through sacrifice and determination, putting others before self, he set out to achieve it. His vision was to "cast our mantle safely over the inland". He "achieved a feat so great it would be almost impossible to duplicate today "

From 1917 onwards, Flynn devoted his life establishing various medical services in remote areas. At first these included nursing stations but his main feat was the foundation of the AIM (Australian Inland Mission) Aerial Medical Service, later known as the RFDS, in 1928. The success of this venture was ensured in 1929 when he made the pedal radio available to remote stations, after he thought of the idea and found an engineer to take on the role of producing these essential communications device. His final contribution to the Australian outback was the establishing of a nursing home at Alice Springs in 1949.

Although Flynn stands in contrast to the Anzacs for the obvious reason that he was successful while the Anzacs weren't, what they represent is the same. People working, not for themselves, but for their community and country with total dedication, and sacrifice, often the ultimate sacrifice in the case of our Anzacs at war. "Flynn set out to provide the outback with the two things he believed the inland desperately needed - a doctor with wings and wireless communication." What he achieved has been a total success and continues to service those who need it. Sir Robert Menzies, former Prime Minister, said that the Royal Flying Doctor Service represented the "...greatest single contribution to the effective settlement of the far distant back country that we have witnessed over time.", He committed years of effort to fund raise, and to finding sponsors and government funding. He persisted even though at the time the Depression was raging. Working in adversity.

Another well known person, whose contributions to this country surely display the Anzac spirit is the eye doctor, Fred Hollows. Fred was another person who fought for what he believed in, in his case equality for all people. Fred became an eye doctor, and soon had set up the first Aboriginal medical centre. He did it not for his own gain, but for what he believed in. Equal treatment and opportunities for all people. "When I've seen an opportunity I haven't sat down and called a committee meeting. I've gone and done it."

Fred was appalled at the numerous cases of curable eye diseases in Aboriginal people. In the 1970's he decided to do something about it. He spent much of his life launching a program to attack these curable eye diseases. But his already noble deeds in Australia weren't enough to satisfy his thirst to use his skills for humanity. Fred traveled to Eritrea, in Africa, where he set up a factory to make eye lenses for the native people there who suffered from partial blindness. The anzac spirit wasn't only demonstrated by him, but also in the rest of the Australian nation, who supported him and donated millions of dollars to him so he could achieve his victories for humanity against blindness.

The Anzacs fought for their country, and for what they thought was right. (Which was not necessarily just defeating the Turks) In a free country like Australia, many people have been able to stand up and fight for what they believe is right. Often these people are fighting for their community, not just themselves, and their struggle represents the selflessness and determination that ideally lives in every true Australian, ever since it was first recognized at Anzac Cove. Eddie Mabo is one such example of an Australian who struggled for what he believed in, in this case, native title.

When the Yirrkala people of Arnhem Land sent a bark petition to the Supreme Court in 1963, it brought the plight of the Indigenous Australians to the public. Although the Yirrkala people lost the case, it did set the way for other determined Australians to fight the same cause, namely, a loop hole in the law recognizing the land a Terra Nullius - No mans land.

At the same time another group of Aboriginal Australians took a stand, and walked off their jobs at Wave Hill station. They lived at a protest site for eight years. They showed a dedication to what they believed in that was only demonstrated by the Anzacs, and other Australians displaying the spirit of Anzac.

"No matter how much he humbug us or cold weather or rain time - we sit there" (Wattie Creek, the protest site) says Ida Bernard, a Gurindji elder. They were protesting at the shocking conditions they had to work in, and the way they were denied rights to their land.

"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is tied up with mine, then let us work together".

Eddie Mabo was the man who finally managed to gain a small victory on the issue of reconciliation. His efforts mean that now Aboriginal people are, in certain cases, granted rights to their traditional land. His struggle meant that finally the complicated issue of Terra Nullius was proven incorrect and resolved, although there is still a long way to go. In 1982 Mabo took his case to the High Court when he realized that the land that had always been his and his ancestors, actually belonged to the crown. He displayed the spirit of Anzac in the honour, dedication, and perseverance, he demonstrated as he struggled for his goal of native title. He rejected cruder and more violent methods of protest and instead took the honorable course of action and went to the Court. He struggled for ten years, raising the support of the nation, and changed history when his Island, Merr, in the Torres Straight was handed back to his people, the Meriam people.

There are so many other honorable people who display the Anzac spirit, some famous, while others have received no recognition. Well known or not, they have strived for what they believe in, and for their nation. The original Anzacs may have died, but what they stood for is at the heart of every Australian, and their spirit can never be extinguished. "These colonials fought as they lived bravely, openly, independently and without fear."

"Their deeds and their sacrifices gave us the invincible, the intangible, the spirit of Anzac."


Web sites:

ANZAC day commemoration Committee site. (www.anzacday.org.au)

The spirit of Anzac explained. (www.anzacday.org/spirit_anzacs.html.)

An oral history from the wave hill strike.

National Archives of Australia. Fact Sheet - Reverend John Flynn.

Gumurrii Centre. Indigenous people of Australia. Social development

Papers of Edward Koiki Mabo, National Library of Australia (online)

"The Inspiring life of Eddie Mabo" by Ben Courtice. Published online by the University of New South Wales. (www.jinx.sistm.unsw.edu.au/~greenlft/1997/286/286p.24.htm)

Commonwealth "Documenting a Democracy" Yirrkala bark petitions 1963.

Prime Minister newsroom, transcript of speeches. (www.pm.gov.au/news/speeches/1999/)

History of the RFD. (www.rfds.org.au/history.htm)

ABC online. Famous Australians -John Flynn. (www.abc.net. au/btn/australians/flynn.htm)

Famous Australians - Fred Hollows. (www.abc.net.au/btn/australians/hollows.htm)


Tim Swifte: Gallipoli, the Incredible Campaign. First published by Magazine Promotions, 1985.

Peter Cochrane: Australians at War. First published by ABC Books, 2001.

Chris Pusley and John Lockyer: The Anzacs at Gallipoli. First published by Reed Publishings, 1999

Volume 133, Issues in Society - Australia's National Identity. Edited by Justin Heatly. First published by The Spinnly Press, 2000.

Michael Cannon: Australia, Spirit of a Nation. First published by Currey O'neil Ross Pty Ltd,1

Robert Darlington and John Hospodaryk: A history of Australia since 1901. First published by Heinemann, 1999.

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