Public turned away

PEOPLE will be forced away from Anzac Day commemorations across the state next month.

Swan Hill RSL sub-branch president Barry Townley told The Guardian yesterday afternoon a decision had been made to conduct a single service in Swan Hill on April 25, despite intentions to "go ahead as usual".

"RSL sub-branches across Victoria have been asked to conduct a single Anzac Day commemorative service only, without public attendance," Mr Townley said.

"We will have a single member attend the cenotaph to do the dawn service and lay a wreath and another representative at 12 noon to play the last post and recite the ode.

"If anyone wants to go early to lay a poppy or such they can, but we're asking that they spread themselves out for the day.

"We cannot stop people from coming along, but it is advisable that they do not attend."

Mr Townley said it was disappointing to cancel the ceremony in Swan Hill, an event that normally raises anywhere between $13,000 and $16,000.

"It means a fair bit, we will lose thousands of dollars in revenue from the actual selling of the badges to the money raised by the RSL on the day," he said.

"It also means a lot to the veterans who do it to honour their mates and it will be the first time ever, for it not to be held.

"But the most important thing is that together we remember our pledge as a nation and Lest We Forget."

An emergency meeting was held by RSL Victoria and the ANZAC Day Commemorative Committee (ADCC) on Monday to discuss Anzac commemorations in Melbourne.

It was decided that a single dawn service would be held at the Shrine of Remembrance with a small number of official guests, however the public will be asked not to attend.

The Anzac Day march through Melbourne's CBD and midday service at the Shrine have also been cancelled.

"Anzac Day 2020 will not look like the Anzac Day that so many of us are used to participating in," RSL Victoria state president Dr Robert Webster said.

"But there will be a service, wreaths will be laid, the last post will still be played, a minutes silence in memory of the fallen will be held, but the public will be asked to stay at home.

"This is not a decision that the RSL takes lightly, but public health and safety must be our priority."

A meeting will be held by the Swan Hill RSL sub-branch on March 31 to discuss final arrangements.

More about 2020 Anzac Day services across the region in Friday's edition of The Guardian.