Honouring seventy years of Australian peacekeeping


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Australia has a rich history of peacekeeping operations that now spans 70 years. To mark this significant milestone, and honour the tens of thousands of Australian peacekeepers who have served, a national service was held at the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial on Thursday, 14 September.

As a founding member of the United Nations, in the wake of the Second World War, Australia quickly found itself enmeshed in the world’s first peacekeeping operation in 1947 as unarmed military observers in the Dutch East Indies.

Continuing crises around the world reaffirmed the essential role of peacekeepers in maintaining international peace and security with Australian peacekeepers playing a vital role in a number of large scale deployments.

Australian peacekeepers have been engaged as military observers, provided logistical support and monitored ceasefires. They have been involved in landmine clearance operations, supported democratic elections, facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid and assisted in the repatriation of refugees.

One of the largest peacekeeping commitments made by Australia was in 1999 to the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET). Over 5,500 Australian military and police personnel were deployed to assist East Timor’s (now Timor-Leste) emergence as an independent nation.

Captains Jenny Plummer (right) and Kristy Sturtevant (left) on deployment with INTERFET, tend an East Timorese woman injured in a fall from a truck. (AWM P04643.005)

In fact, the contribution by Australian peacekeepers to the independence of Timor-Leste was recently acknowledged by the Timor-Leste government through a donation of $100,000 US towards the recently unveiled Australian Peacekeeping Memorial on Anzac Parade.

The new memorial is comprised of two large monoliths separated by a glowing passageway as well as a commemorative courtyard with information about Australia’s peacekeeping service.

To honour those who have served and those who continue to serve in peacekeeping operations in countries around the world you can visit the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra.