Danielle Nizzero
Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School

The events that occurred on the Gallipoli peninsula during World War One reinforced to the Australian nation many of its important traditions of independent, resourceful and egalitarian spirit. Those qualities, collectively known as the ANZAC spirit, have continued to be shown not only by Australians at war, as was demonstrated by the recent East Timor crisis, but also by Australian civilians. Doctors like Fred Hollows and sports players such as Patrick Rafter and the Wallabies all demonstrate the ANZAC spirit and these qualities are also evident in Australian society as a whole.

During the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 the raw and untested ANZACs showed that they were not only independent and resourceful fighters but also brave mates who believed in a fair go for all. War historian Bill Gammage (1974, 74-75) highlighted their bravery in his book The Broken Years (1974, 74-75) when he described part of the suicidal charge of the Australian Light Horse at The Nek in the August of 1915: "The tenth Light Horse filed into the vacant places in the trench. They could hardly have doubted their fate. They knew they would die, and they were determined to die bravely, by running swiftly at the enemy. 'Boys, you have two minutes to live,’" said their Commanding Officer, ‘And I'm going to lead you.’ In ANZACs: Australia and the First World War (Anderson, n.d., 7) Captain Matt Anderson emphasizes how important mateship was for the ANZACs during the attack at Lone Pine: "In the nervous moments before the attack the men moved amongst the trenches, looking for friends, brothers or fathers. If they were about to go into battle they wanted to be with their mates." The bravery and spirit shown by these men are the reasons Australia celebrates ANZAC Day every year. Although the Gallipoli campaign was a military failure, it enabled Australia to develop its traditions and its culture.

The uniquely Australian qualities that developed during the Gallipoli campaign have continued to be shown by Australians at war. A recent example of this is the East Timor situation where Australian-led United Nations troops were sent in September 1999 as peacekeeping forces. The Australian soldiers, who patrolled in East Timor after its vote for its independence in August 1999 as part of InterFET, displayed the ANZAC qualities now commonly associated with Australian troops in conflict. (2000 ANZAC Peace Prize. 2000; Major-General Peter Cosgrove, 2000) The InterFET troops' primary responsibility whilst in East Timor was to restore peace and stability to the area by controlling the violence caused by the militia after the referendum who were opposed to East Timor's independence from Indonesia. The InterFET soldiers had to patrol the streets restoring order and protecting East Timorese citizens from ruthless attacks from the militia forces. The Australian soldiers quickly made friends with the people of East Timor and gained their affection and trust, but still managed to perform their role as peacekeeping troops admirably. (2000 ANZ4C Peace Prize, 2000; Alcock, 2000; Sanderson, 2000; Reynolds, 2000) Guided by their "fearless, dedicated and caring" (Robson in 2000 ANZ4C Peace Prize, 2000) Australian leader Major General Peter Cosgrove, InterFET succeeded helping the East Timorese people begin the process of rehabilitating their lives. (Major-General Peter Cosgrove, 2000; Sanderson, 2000; Reynolds, 2000; Australian of the Year 2001. 2001) On announcing that Major-General Cosgrove had won the 2000 ANZAC Peace Prize, RSI, National Secretary Mr Derek Robson stated that: "His actions were in the highest ANZAC tradition of dedication, determination to get the job done and compassion." (2000 ANZ4C Peace Prize, 2000) Major-General Cosgrove and all the members of the Australian Defence Force under his command participated in the largest, most complex military operation undertaken by 100 Australia since the Vietnam War, and served their country with honour and the utmost professionalism. (Minister for Defence, John Moore in Major-General Peter Cosgrove, 2000) The Australian soldiers who were part of InterFET successfully demonstrated the ANZAC spirit during their time in East Timor and have repaid the debt they owed to the East Timorese people for their help during World War Two. (Xanana Gusmao, the leader of the Falintil in Sanderson, 2000; Reynolds, 2000)

Australian doctors have also displayed the qualities that were shown by the Australian contingent of InterFET. A typical example of this is the late Fred Hollows. Hollows was an ophthalmologist who pioneered the treatment of eye diseases among Aborigines as well as setting up numerous lens factories around the world with the dream of eliminating cataract blindness. The "intellectual with the wharfie's manner" (Australian of the Year 1990, 1990) strongly believed in equality for all people, rich or poor, black or white. "Yeah," he says of himself, "I'm. egalitarian. It's pretty bloody obvious." (Contributions of Power n.d.) He was never afraid of achieving the many goals he set for himself having once written: "You disappoint yourself more often by not doing things because of cowardice and temerity than you ever did by doing things that turn out to be wrong." (Fred Hollows, 2000) His passion to help others and his determination to complete any task he set for himself, no matter what obstacles were in his way (Professor Fred Hollows, 2001; Fred Hollows, 2000) is evidence that the ANZAC spirit has not been forgotten by future generations of Australians. However he was not alone in his quest to reduce or even eliminate blindness in Aborigines, many other doctors of the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists also gave their services voluntarily to help his cause. (Fred Hollows, 2000; Aboriginal Health Care, 1997)

Many Australian sporting heroes have also kept the ANZAC traditions of competitiveness, teamwork and egalitarianism alive. Athletes like Patrick Rafter and the Wallabies are known around the world for their competitive sportsmanship and composure. Despite the fact that they all hate to lose, they rarely have the uncontrolled outbursts shown by other people in their sport and always congratulate their opposition. (Wimbledon telecast, 2001; US Open telecast, 2001; Bledisloe Cup telecast, 2001) Rafter, like Hollows, is also an egalitarian always giving away a large fraction of his substantial prize money to charities. (Wimbledon telecast, 2001) Rafter also demonstrates the Aussie sense of humour that is often associated with our laid-back attitude towards everything, even defeat. When asked whether he wished to congratulate Goran Ivanisevic after he had just lost to him in the 2001 Wimbledon final, Rafter jokingly replied: I don't want to thank him at all." However, when the interviewer asked him a second time, his sportsmanship prompted him to add: "I'll congratulate him. Yeah. Mate it was a great effort from Goran. I'm a culprit of writing Goran off a couple of years ago and he's come here and proved to all of us that he's playing great tennis and he's a deserved winner." (Rafter refuses to rule out Wimbledon return, 2001) The Wallabies also demonstrated the ANZAC spirit during the Bledisloe Cup in September 2001, by working together as a team to overcome any difficulties they had had during the match and managed to score the winning try in the dying seconds of the game, because they never gave up – even in the face of defeat. (Bledisloe Cup telecast, 2001) The sportsmanship, mental toughness, intelligence and strength of character, shown by these Australian sportsmen, are simply extensions of the respect the ANZACs came to have towards their opponent whom they affectionately nicknamed "Jonnie Turk". (Gammage, 1974, 92) The resourcefulness the ANZACs showed during the battles and the courage they showed before participating in a battle are similarly reflected in our great sporting heroes of today.

The egalitarian beliefs and laid-back nature of Australians, developed during the fighting at Gallipoli, has had a great effect on Australian society. Gareth Evans, former Minister for Foreign Affairs stated in 1995 that Australia's multiculturalism is "not the multiculturalism of the ‘melting pot' whereby every immigrant's separate identity is melted down into a new common identity, blending all the individual ingredients in separately together. Australian multiculturalism is rather that of the salad bowl – where the ingredients remain separately identifiable, but they mix totally harmoniously together." (Evans, 1995) The belief of the Australian collective community that everyone deserves a 'fair go' has meant that immigrants who have moved to Australia have not been forced to give up their own cultural identity. (Evans, 1995; Multicultural Australia, 2001) The egalitarianism of Australians has also meant that there is little class structure evident in Australia; there are few other countries in the world where one can call their boss or their doctor by their first name without being considered rude. This relaxed attitude towards authority is similar to the way the ANZACs would often not salute officers when they passed. The behaviour of the Australian public, in these two respects, is further evidence that the ANZAC spirit has continued to emerge in successive generations of Australians.

There has been much debate over whether the ANZAC legend is historically correct, and it is probable historians will continue to argue about this topic well into the future. However there is no doubt about the impact the ANZAC spirit has had on the Australian ethos. The characteristics associated with Australians: our resourcefulness, mateship, independence, egalitarianism and laid-back nature, all became associated with the Australian way of life because of how the raw and untested ANZACs coped with the rigours of Gallipoli. In the words of Major General Cosgrove: "I've also discovered that the Spirit of ANZAC lives on ... in all Australians and not just ones in uniform." (Comment from Major General Peter Cosgrove, 2000).


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