Advocating for Defence families

Recognising the strength and sacrifice of families this Remembrance Day

Families attending commemoration events this Remembrance Day are encouraged to lay a small teddy bear beside their wreath to acknowledge the families of veterans and current serving Australian Defence Force members.

Defence Families of Australia (DFA) and Legacy Australia, with the support of RSL Australia, have joined forces on the #RememBEARance campaign to acknowledge and pay tribute to the strength and sacrifice of Defence families.

This act of paying tribute to families is in addition to the profound meaning of Remembrance Day remembering and honouring the memory of those who served, are currently serving, and those we have lost.

Recent 2021 Census data shows that 1 in 20 Australian households1 (5.3%) have at least one person who was either currently serving or had previously served in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Families can choose to lay a small stuffed toy of significant personal and sentimental value they can collect at an appropriate time after the commemoration event.

Legacy Australia Chairman Legatee Eric Easterbrook OAM said that this was an easy initiative to support but has a big impact in commemorating our veterans and their families.

“Laying a teddy with a wreath is a beautiful symbol to help commemorate the sacrifices that our military families make for our country,” Mr Easterbrook said.

RSL Australia National President Greg Melick said families play a vital role supporting our veterans, both during and post service.

“The gesture of laying a bear to acknowledge their role, in addition to the traditional wreath laying on Remembrance Day is a new concept led by Defence Families of Australia to which we have given our support,” Mr Melick said.

This partnership between Legacy, RSL and DFA is an example of a positive collaboration between agencies which support and pay respect to veterans, current serving members and their families.

“Families are essential to supporting a stronger Australian Defence Force,” said Mrs Laaksonen-Sherrin.

“Our Defence capability thrives when families are valued and supported during and following their military service.

“We hope this campaign will give Defence and veteran families the recognition they deserve, but don’t always get, for their service to our nation by supporting their ADF member.”

*As part of the campaign, we encourage those who choose to lay a bear or symbolic memento to retrieve their item once the ceremony has concluded to minimise waste around the memorials and cenotaphs.

About Defence Families of Australia

Established in 1986, Defence Families of Australia (DFA) is the official group representing the interests of families of current serving ADF members. As the official families advisory body to the Minister for Defence Personnel and Chief of the Defence Force, we advocate for ongoing improvement in policy and practice. Our team are located all across Australia, and are family of current serving Defence members. Our advocacy drives change to decrease the negative aspects, and to support the positive aspects of Defence life.

About Legacy Australia

As one of Australia’s oldest and most iconic charities, Legacy supports 43,000 families of Australian Defence Force personnel who have given their lives or their health in service to their country. Legacy is dedicated to enhancing the lives and opportunities of our families through innovative and practical assistance, aimed at protecting individuals and families’ basic needs, advocating for their entitlements, rights and benefits, assisting families through bereavement and helping people thrive, despite their adversity and loss.

About RSL Australia

For over a hundred years, the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL Australia)  has provided a support network, services and an organisation of camaraderie and recognition for current and ex-serving members.Since its formation, RSL Australia has evolved into the nation’s largest Ex-Service Organisation, operating through a federated structure of State and Territory Branches and 1,135 Sub-Branches, and representing approximately 150,000 members. RSL Australia today supports public debate, education, and increased public awareness of issues relating to the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio. RSL Australia also serves as a sounding board for the Government in the development of policy and practice.


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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Remembrance Day is about veterans. Is the RememBEARance campaign trying to detract from recognising the service and sacrifice of veterans?

A: Not at all. This collaboration between DFA and Legacy Australia, with the support of RSL Australia, is about recognising the families behind the current and former serving Australian Defence Force members. The act of laying a bear can be done in addition to the traditional laying of a wreath, and is a way to remember the families missed and loved by the serving member while they were on duty.

2. Do I have to lay a bear with my wreath?

A: We encourage you to lay a small toy of significant personal or sentimental value which can then be collected at an appropriate time after the commemoration event. We strongly recommend your item be no larger than 30cm and reflect the solemn nature of the Remembrance Day commemoration event.

3. What happens to the bears or sentimental objects after the event?

A: We encourage you to collect your bears or sentimental objects at the end of the commemoration event when the ceremony is officially over. This is usually when the Master of Ceremonies dismounts from the lectern and people are standing and talking among themselves. This is often a time when people come forward to have a closer look at the cenotaph or the cards on the wreaths, for example.

By doing this, you will help avoid sending the bears to landfill unnecessarily, and to reduce the workload of event organisers. If it helps, you may like to clearly identify your bear with a card with your name on it.

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