6 May 2013

Some young people who desecrate War Memorials will soon be required to work alongside veterans to help maintain the sites as part of their punishment, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello and Attorney General Greg Smith announced today.

“The damaging of a War Memorial is an insult to the entire community, and particularly hurtful to our current and former servicemen and women and their families,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“People who damage War Memorials clearly don’t understand the significance of these sites and the sacrifices our diggers made.

“Once offenders gain an appreciation of the great debt we all owe to our diggers and spend some time with veterans, I am confident they’ll never think about damaging a War Memorial again.

“The NSW Government thanks the RSL for supporting this initiative and its willingness to help young people learn about our ANZAC history and to turn their lives around.”

Under the plan, offenders who have damaged or desecrated War Memorials could be required to undertake voluntary work with the RSL. Activities offenders may undertake includes:

           Volunteering with the Corps of Guards

           Assisting the ANZAC Memorial Guardians with Memorial tours

           Interacting with visitors

The proposal involves offenders convicted of offences under Section 8 of the Summary Offences Act 1988 “Damaging or desecrating protected places”, participating in a program that would involve the offenders volunteering with the Corp of Guards at the Hyde Park ANZAC Memorial. Juvenile offenders could participate as an outcome of existing Youth Justice Conferences, and adult offenders could also participate as an outcome of Forum Sentencing.

Mr Dominello said the initiative would be a more meaningful form of punishment than a fine and ensures any community service orders can be carried out with the RSL.

“This proposal will embody in young people the spirit of ANZAC and provide them with opportunities to contribute to the community. Further, under the leadership of the RSL, it will teach young people who have done wrong, to do right,” Mr Dominello said.

Mr Smith said the program provided offenders with an opportunity to engage in meaningful rehabilitation and get their life back on the right track.

“This program should make offenders aware how much the community values war memorials, and make them realise the debt we all owe to those who have sacrificed so much for this country,” Mr Smith said.

State of President of the RSL Don Rowe welcomed the initiative.

“The RSL fully supports this excellent concept of young offenders spending time at the ANZAC Memorial with the Corps of Guards,” Mr Rowe said.

“Among those in the Corps of Guards are those who have served in our Defence Forces. 

“We believe young offenders being associated with Defence Force Personnel in our community is an excellent way to understand the significance of War Memorials and the importance of being a good citizen in a great country like Australia where so many men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Mr Rowe said.

The NSW Government is working with the RSL and other interested parties about the implementation of the measures.


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