Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions and associated international border closures and uncertainty in the domestic tourism sector have collectively caused visitation to collapse by more than 500,000 people. This has had material impact on our self-funding activities. Despite this, marked success in delivering digital programming has allowed us to engage more than 730,000 people in our commemorative purpose.
Providing for the commemorative needs of veterans and the community is one of the Shrine’s primary functions. More than 359,000 people – including veterans, students and members of the public in Victoria, elsewhere in Australia and overseas attended or watched a live stream of the 144 commemorative services delivered at the Shrine or online during the year.
Live streaming of all commemorative services ensured that we maintained our relationships with Victoria’s commemorative community. The Shrine has since become adept at delivering hybrid physical/virtual commemorative programming and, with the support of the Victorian State Government, installed permanent live streaming infrastructure to stream our commemorative program to the world.
Last Post Service
The Last Post Service was suspended during our closure periods and recommenced in December 2020. The service continues to achieve its aims with both veteran participants and attendees reporting positive engagement and feedback. Participation at the weekly service has been strong with up to 200 people joining us on the Second World War Memorial Forecourt at 4.45pm on Sundays.
The Last Post Service is proving to be an integral pillar to the implementation of the Shrine’s program strategy with events commemorated scheduled to connect with special exhibitions and other programming.
2020–21 major services
This year, both the Dawn Service and Veterans’ March were conducted as COVIDSafe events under the Public Events Framework administered by DHHS and DJPR.
The Anzac Day Dawn Service was a limited capacity event with contact tracing requirements requiring ticketed attendance for a maximum of 1,400 people. This and the associated control measures drew criticism from some sectors of the community and media.
Her Excellency, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, was joined by the Official Party in the Sanctuary as she placed a single wreath at the Stone of Remembrance in a solemn service. The service was broadcast to an audience exceeding 55,000 on ABC television and live streamed via the Shrine’s social channels and co-hosted by several other organisations resulting in total engagement exceeding 100,000 views.
In an unbroken tradition of honouring service and sacrifice on 11 November, the Victorian State Remembrance Day Service for 2020 was delivered as a hybrid virtual and physical event under Stage 3 COVID restrictions. A suite of programming leading up to Remembrance Day resulted in strong engagement and more than 44,500 views of the live streamed service and Ray of Light broadcast.
Ordinarily a major feature in the Shrine’s ceremonial calendar, this solemn day of reflection for Victorian students was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Each year, as part of National Reconciliation Week, services are held across Australia to commemorate the service of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Defence Force. The Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service 2021, scheduled for 31 May 2021, was postponed due to COVID restrictions.
Friends of the Shrine program
Active promotion during the year allowed Friends membership sales to exceed targets. The Friends program directly engages members through Friends socials, public programs, special exhibition launch invitations and priority seating at major services. Friends also receive complimentary editions of the Shrine magazine Remembrance.
Retail and tour groups
Repeated closures have resulted in a dramatic reduction in visitation and significant changes to our visitor profile. With suppressed visitation and ongoing border closures both our retail and tour licensing revenue fell short of targets.
A revised Shrine Tour format introduced this year has proven successful. The increase in frequency, updated content and reduction in tour price and duration resulted in increased uptake.
Reviewed 01 November 2021